When his famous (some would say infamous) mother died in 1944, Rolf took over the radio station his mother had founded and several other corporations, including the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and L.I.F.E. Bible College, now known as Life Pacific College. He also became the pastor of Angelus Temple, a church that had a capacity for seating over 5,ooo--not so unusual now days, but striking for the time.
The son of a Methodist father and a Salvation Army mother, "Sister Aimee" had built her ministry with a combination of drama, music, and a flamboyant preaching style. Criticized for her "antics" some would say she was just ahead of her time. I tend to agree about that, though I am well-aware that there were some highly questionable things about her life as well. Even her death was questionable.
Nonetheless, there were many things to admire about this woman--a person who defied the man-made restrictions of her day and blazed a trail for many women who came after her. Rolf McPherson seemed to have many of his mother's positive traits and not some of the less-desirable ones. As far as I ever knew, he was well-respected by his peers. Under his leadership, the Foursquare Church grew to a membership of several million worldwide. Today the Foursquare Church is found in 63 nations and has about 60,000 churches.
As a young teenager In the mid-60s I attended an Angelus Temple Sunday night service--my first Pentecostal service. I never forgot it. I was astonished at the emotional worship displayed by the congregation--all those hands in the air! And everyone praying out loud at the same time! Eyes closed? What was that about? I came home feeling a little smug about my more sedate Baptist worship style. Hearing that the church had been started by a woman was just plain weird to me and just added to my opinion that, while these people were probably sincere, they were misguided at best. Life is ironic, isn't it?
However, there were elements of that service that stayed with me. I've written about that before, and that isn't the point of this post, except to note that I recall standing in front of an enormous glass case somewhere in Angelus Temple that contained many crutches and other devices for aiding physically ill or disabled people. I didn't know what to think. I still don't. I have prayed many prayers for someones healing. I have been present when a healing that occurred was undeniable and verifiable. Still, I am sceptical of much of what passes for "healing" ministry today.
Regarding his mother's prayers for the sick, McPherson said in an interview a few years ago, "They used to bring ambulances and stretchers, and they left empty. Often Mother would-right in the middle of her message-go down and pray for somebody on a stretcher. They would get up off the stretcher, and the stretcher would be carried off empty." He believed in the veracity of his mother's ministry, and he once remarked that he had been part of the greatest move of God that the city of Los Angeles would likely ever experience.
Reading of Rolf McPherson's passing reminded me of my long-ago visit to Angelus Temple. If the crutches and other artifacts I saw in that glass case were from genuine healing miracles...well then I know of no one today who is experiencing those kind of healing gifts in their ministry. Not in America, at any rate.
I wonder why? I wonder, are we so disgusted by the antics of some of the more "renowned" charismatic or Pentecostal healing ministries or methods that they will simply never happen again? Was the Holy Spirit doing something remarkable in those days that simply is not happening now? Is it a general atmosphere of unbelief?
Don't you envy the ease with which Peter and John must have been able to share the good news of Jesus? I mean, so far no one has been healed when my shadow fell upon them.