Maria Woodworth Etter (1844-1924) was a very popular “evangelist/faith healer” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was known as “the trance evangelist,” because during her meetings she would she would go into trances and see visions of heaven and hell. One newspaper reporter sarcastically wrote that she had more visions and worked more miracles than all the apostles combined!
People in her audience would also fall into trances, some standing rigid gazing into heaven, others lying on the floor unable to move for hours or even days. People screaming, crying, singing, moaning, violent shaking, and rolling around on the floor were just some of the strange occurrences that were common in her meetings. Unfortunately, these strange manifestations were and still are blamed on the Holy Spirit.
In his book God’s Generals, Roberts Liardon calls Etter “a demonstrator of the Spirit,” and states:
But Etter was no demonstrator of the Holy Spirit. Her meetings were chaotic and disorderly, similar to what takes place in many hyper-charismatic churches today.
In the following video we will take a look some old newspaper articles that describe what took place during her camp meetings. We will see that Etter, praised by Liardon as the greatest “demonstrator of the Spirit” since the book of Acts, and who’s “mantle” has finally come to rest on Benny Hinn, was nothing more than a liar and a fraud. She used her demonic trance episodes to draw large crowds in order to gain popularity, and to manipulate people out of their money.
Here are some other articles/videos in this ongoing series:
Here is a fascinating conversation between Steven Kozar and historian Barry Morton about the earliest Pentecostal con men on Fighting for the Faith:
Daniel Long is co-host of The Long For Truth podcast, and the Long For Truth blog.