A Brief Bio
John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907) was born in Edinburgh Scotland, and moved to Australia with his parents in 1860. In 1868 he moved back to Edinburgh to study theology at the University of Edinburgh, where he was influenced by the deeply flawed theology of Edward Irving (1792-1834) who had been a student there. Irving taught many of the things that the modern Charismatic movement believes, and Dowie was an important link to bring his bad theology into the 20th century. In his studies at Edinburgh, Dowie came to believe that the medical field was to be avoided, and that people should abandon medicine and doctors and seek healing only from the Lord. It’s notable that Edward Irving died at the age of 42 and Dowie at the age of 59, even though they both believed that God would miraculously heal them.
Dowie moved back to Australia, and in 1872 accepted the position as pastor of a Congregational church. It was during this time in Australia that he began the practice of faith healing. He taught that all sickness and insanity was the work of the devil. Dowie attracted many followers as a faith healer, drawing large crowds to his meetings. However, an arson scandal prompted him to duck the law and in 1888 he moved to the United States. This scandal is told by historian Barry Morton in his paper The Big Con: John Alexander Dowie and the Spread of Zionist Christianity in Southern Africa.
While in the States, Dowie again took up the “art” of faith healing. His popularity grew, and in 1894 he established the Zion Tabernacle in Chicago, Illinois. He also established healing homes where the sick could go and receive prayer for healing. Dowie taught that only a Christian could be healed and he would refuse to pray for the healing of unbelievers. He also taught that living a clean and holy lifestyle was the only way one could keep their healing. This is the same thing that many modern faith healers teach today.
In 1900 he began building Zion City where he promised a utopian dwelling for all who took refuge there. Dowie gained followers from all over the world. He made millions off of them by demanding they pay tithes to him directly! He lived a lavish lifestyle and would travel with a literal army of servants. Dowie forbid his followers to eat pork, to smoke or to drink alcohol. Later he would claim to be the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, and he would even wear an outlandish “Elijah” costume:
He suffered a stroke in 1905 and while in Mexico trying to recover, his fraudulent activities were exposed by his right hand man Wilbur Voliva. His polygamy teachings, mismanagement of funds, and his many mistresses were reported in newspapers throughout the world. After he suffered a second stroke in 1907, Dowie died at the age of 59 and the control of Zion went to Wilbur Voliva.
Roberts Liardon places John Alexander Dowie in the first chapter of his book God’s Generals, and titles the chapter “The Healing Apostle.” Throughout this chapter Liardon calls Dowie an “apostle.” He also refers to Dowie as a “reformer,” and a “revivalist.”
But this is far from the truth! John Alexander Dowie was a con artist who stole millions of dollars from his thousands of followers. He was arrested hundreds of times for the violation of city ordinances relating to the care of the sick of which many died. Yet Liardon makes Dowie out to be a true apostle and prophet who was misrepresented and persecuted by his critics! He writes that the newspapers, medical institutions and other critics were out to get Dowie because his faith healing was hurting their pocket books.
It needs to be noted however, that Liardon gets his sources from only two places-Gordon Lindsay’s book John Alexander Dowie: A Life Story of Trials, Tragedies and Triumphs, and the book, This We Believe, Handbook of the Christian Catholic Church.
Has Liardon even attempted to do research beyond a (biased) biography and a (very biased) handbook? Here is the footnote page from the Dowie chapter in Liardon’s book:
As you can see, these are the only two sources that Liardon uses. The truth is that John Alexander Dowie was a fraud, a con, and a murderer. Dozens died in his “healing homes” called '“dens” by some of the newspapers.
Dowie’s Death Homes
In this video, I show several old newspaper articles that reported multiple deaths that occurred in Dowie’s Zion.
PLEASE watch and share this very important video!!
Here are some related articles that you really need to check out:
Here’s another video with information about John Alexander Dowie, but it also shows modern Hyper-Charismatic teacher, John Crowder, “grave-sucking” at John Alexander Dowie’s dead bones:
Daniel Long is co-host of The Long For Truth podcast, and the Long For Truth blog.