Albert Benjamin Simpson
Albert Benjamin Simpson (December 15, 1843 - October 29, 1919) was a preacher, theologian, author, and founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), an evangelical protestant denomination with an emphasis on global evangelism.
Early life and ministry
Simpson was born in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada as the third son and fourth child of James Simpson, Jr. and Janet Clark.
Author Harold H. Simpson has gathered an extensive genealogy of Cavendish families in Cavendish: Its History, Its People. His research establishes the Clark family (A.B. Simpson's mother's side) as one of the founding families of Cavendish in 1790, and he traces common ancestors between Albert B. Simpson and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.
The young Albert was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan tradition.
Simpson received his theological training at Knox College, University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada. After graduating in 1865, Simpson prepared for ministry and was subsequently ordained in the Presbyterian church.
At age 21, he accepted a call to the large Knox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario. In December 1873, at age 30, Simpson assumed the pulpit of the largest Presbyterian church in Louisville, Kentucky, the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church.
By 1880, Simpson moved to the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City where he published a missionary journal, The Gospel in All Lands, the first missionary journal with pictures. Simpson also founded and began publishing an illustrated magazine entitled The Word, Work, and World. By 1911, this magazine became known as The Alliance Weekly, now called Alliance Life, the official publication of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Concerned for those living in poverty, he would eventually leave the Presbytery of New York to begin an independent ministry to the neglected masses of New York City.
Simpson developed a theological formulation that was to have an impact on a number of groups that emerged from the Holiness Movement, in particular Pentecostalism and the C&MA. His formulation is known as the FourFold Gospel: "Jesus our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King". The FourFold Gospel is symbolized in the logo of the C&MA.
Plagued by illness for much of his life since childhood, Simpson held very strong beliefs in divine healing. He emphasized healing in his FourFold Gospel. Such teaching isolated him, and the C&MA, from the mainline churches that did not emphasize it, or rejected healing outright.
Simpson's heart for evangelism was to become the driving force behind the creation of the C&MA. Initially, the Christian and Missionary Alliance was not founded as a denomination, but as an organized movement of world evangelism. Today, the C&MA plays a leadership role in global evangelism.
In his book, A Larger Christian Life, Simpson discussed his vision for the church: "He is showing us the plan for a Christian church that is much more than an association of congenial friends to listen once a week to an intellectual discourse and musical entertainment and carry on by proxy a mechanism of Christian work; but rather a church that can be at once the mother and home of every form of help and blessing which Jesus came to give to lost and suffering men, the birthplace and the home of souls, the fountain of healing and cleansing, the sheltering home for the orphan and distressed, the school for the culture and training of God's children, the armory where they are equipped for the battle of the Lord and the army which fights those battles in. His name. Such a center of population in this sad and sinful world!" (A.B. Simpson, A Larger Christian Life. p. 153)
Simpson composed the following lyrics for his hymn, "The Missionary Cry:"
- "The Master's coming draweth near.
- The Son of Man will soon appear,
- His Kingdom is at hand.
- But ere that glorious day can be,
- The Gospel of the Kingdom, we
- Must preach in every land."
- (Hymns of the Christian Life)
Involvement in Pentecostalism
During the beginning of the twentieth century, Simpson became closely involved with the growing Pentecostal movement, an offshoot of the Holiness movement. It was common for Pentecostal pastors and missionaries to receive their training at the Missionary Training Institute that Simpson founded. Because of this, Simpson and the C&MA had a great influence on Pentecostalism, in particular the Assemblies of God and the FourSquare Church. This influence included evangelistic emphasis, C&MA doctrine, Simpson's hymns and books, and the use of the term 'Gospel Tabernacle,' which evolved into Pentecostal churches being known as 'Full Gospel Tabernacles.' There eventually developed a severe division within the C&MA organization over issues surrounding Pentecostalism (such as speaking in tongues and charismatic worship styles). These events necessitated the eventual emergence of the C&MA as a distinct denomination.
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