Christian Missionary Alliance
James Lewis, in his 1998 "Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions," counts nearly 2,000 C&MA churches and over 300,000 members in the U.S. He describes 400 of those churches as intercultural. Lewis' statistics reflect 378 churches, 59 of which he calls multicultural, and more than 93,000 members in Canada. Outside of the U.S. and Canada, Lewis estimates that C&MA membership exceeds 2 million.
It currently claims over 2 million members in 75 countries.
Associated with the denomination have been important evangelists and authors, such as Aiden Wilson Tozer.
The C&MA center is in Nyack Heights, NY, and the headquarters are currently located in Colorado Springs, CO.
History of the denomination
Initially, the Christian and Missionary Alliance was not founded as a denomination, but as an organized movement of world evangelism.
Five major movements influenced Simpson's teachings and ultimately contributed to the rise of the C&MA. These movements were Gospel Evangelism, The Holiness movement, Divine Healing, Foreign Missions, and The Lord's Return. Gospel Evangelism was the first effort to spread God's word to non-church-goers. The Holiness Movement centered on the ideas of sanctification, or cleansing, and conversion. It renewed faith and stimulated a desire for a deep spiritual life, emphasizing the importance of experiencing the Holy Spirit in one's life. The Divine Healing movement maintained that Christ could heal illnesses that medicine and man could not. Foreign Missions illuminated the necessity of delivering the Gospel to the rest of the world. The Lord's Return predicted and prepared for the return of Jesus Christ to Earth.
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 (see below). Such teaching isolated him, and the C&MA, from the mainline churches that did not emphasize it, or rejected healing outright.
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.'
Eventually, there developed severe division within the C&MA over issues surrounding Pentecostalism (such as speaking in tongues and charismatic worship styles). By 1912, this crisis was a catalyst for the emergence of the C&MA as an organized denomination, shifting more authority to Council and becoming more ecclesiastical.
To ensure the survival of the C&MA in the face of division, Simpson put all property in the name of the C&MA. In the event of separation, all property would revert to C&MA (Burgess, Stanley, et al. 1993. “Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan. p.166).
By 1930, most local branches of the C&MA functioned as churches, but still did not view themselves as churches.
After Simpson's death, the C&MA distanced itself from Pentecostalism, rejecting the premise that speaking in tongues necessarily indicates possession by the Holy Spirit, and instead focused on the deeper Christian life. (Burgess:166).
A formal statement of faith was established in 1965.
Today, the C&MA plays a leadership role in global missions.
A central element in the C&MA’s statement of faith is Dr. A.B. Simpson’s “FourFold Gospel.” It is summed up as “Christ Our Saviour, Christ Our Sanctifier, Christ Our Healer, and Christ Our Coming King.” This formulation has an affinity with the teachings of John Wesley and the Holiness movement. This FourFold Gospel is also symbolized in the C&MA’s logo.
Associated with the denomination is CAMA Services. “CAMA” stands for “Compassion and Mercy Associates.”
Services include a variety of relief and development efforts providing food, clothing, medical care, and job training to people in crisis situations around the globe. CAMA also maintains a strong evangelistic thrust.
Begun in 1974 as an outreach to refugees fleeing the Indochina conflict, CAMA now works in refugee camps in Thailand, and has worked with refugees in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Jordan, and Guinea, and famine victims in Burkina Faso and Mali.
C&MA seminaries and colleges
As of 1998, there are two C&MA graduate schools, four C&MA colleges, and one C&MA seminary accredited by the American Association of Theological Schools.
In the United States:
- Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York
- Simpson College and Simpson Graduate School in Redding, California
- Toccoa Falls College and Toccoa Falls Graduate School in Toccoa, Georgia
- Crown College and Crown Graduate School in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota
- Canadian Bible College and Canadian Theological Seminary, both in Calgary, Alberta
- Crown College home page
- Nyack College home page
- Simpson College home page
- Toccoa Falls College home page
- Alliance University College, Nazarene University College, Canadian Bible College and Canadian Theological Seminary
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