Arthur Henry Dallimore was a highly controversial figure in the healing and Pentecostal movements. Dallimore was born in Penshurst, Kent, England, on September 14, 1873. He was the son of John Dallimore and Mary Ann Spanswick Dallimore. He came from a religious family. They attended a Baptist and then an Anglican church. When he was seven he contracted typhoid fever but was healed when his parents prayed for him. In 1886 the Dallimore family immigrated to New Zealand. The family attended the Wesleyan Church in Opunake, under the ministry of the Rev. Hammond, a Maori Missioner. Another missioner, Rev. Cannell, felt that Dallimore had a lot of potentials and invited him to become a Methodist minister, which he refused at the time.
Dallimore was looking for adventure and the ability to make his fortune. In 1902 Dallimore moved to Alaska in the United States hoping to strike gold. He lived there for the next 8 years working as a miner. He then returned to England to try his hand at farming. On the trip back he met Ethel Eliza Ward. They married on February 23, 1911, but the couple moved to Canada immediately. They had their first child Marjorie in December 1911. She would be followed by John in 1913 and Arthur in 1914. While in Canada Dallimore tried to farm and then went into business. The couple must have continued to have a religious interest because in 1920 Dallimore attended a British-Israelism conference in Vancouver, British Columbia where he met John G. Lake. Lake recommended that he enter the ministry. Dallimore was under a great deal of strain and suffered a nervous breakdown due to business failures. Charles S. Price was holding a healing campaign at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vancouver. Dallimore attended the meetings and was healed.
In 1927, Dallimore returned to New Zealand with his family. He joined with an evangelist named Bragg for a short time in Auckland. On December 4th he broke out on his own and started a healing and evangelistic mission in the East Street Hall. In many ways, the area was prepared for Dallimore by the previous healing and evangelistic meetings of Smith Wigglesworth, James Moore Hickson, and T. W. Ratana the Maori healer. The beginnings were humble with 5-10 people coming to the meetings. Dallimore’s wife would lead singing and help to pray for the sick. Remarkable healings occurred and within four years there were 1000 people regularly attending the meetings. The ministry was renamed to be the Revival Fire Mission. Finally, the meetings were so large the only building that could hold them was the Auckland Town Hall. Dallimore’s ministry was extended through newspaper stories and radio sermons. He also prayed for handkerchiefs that were sent out all over the world. There was some criticism when it was publicized that people had taken anointed handkerchiefs and used them to heal their animals. There were also reports of the repair of mechanical fixtures when anointed handkerchiefs were used. Dallimore aggressively attacked medicine and medical practitioners.
The presence of God would cause many to “fall under the power” and people spoke in tongues. Surprisingly Dallimore did not identify himself as Pentecostal because he felt there was a culture of emotional excess in the movement. Dallimore emphasized Biblical statements concerning God’s promises to heal and he was heard to say over and over again `If I can lift anyone or help them to make things worthwhile, by prayer or by the same means relieve pain, I am doing a service.” The years between 1927 and 1932 were known as the Dallimore Revival or Revival Fire Mission Revival. By 1932 he had two thousand people attending his meetings. A local magistrate estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 people had “fallen under the power” in Dallimore’s meetings over five years and none of them had been hurt.
Dallimore came under attack by the religious, medical, and political forces in Auckland. The government created a committee to investigate the healing claims of the ministry. They concluded that there were no verifiable healings. Church members raised complaints in the local papers when the committee refused to speak to those who were more than willing to give medical evidence of their healings. Dallimore did not participate since he viewed the entire proceeding as prejudiced and unlikely to give him a fair hearing. The outcome was that the church was no longer allowed to meet in the Town Hall. Within two months Dallimore’s supporters had rallied and forced the government to allow him to use of the building once more.
Dallimore focused on two areas; divine healing and British-Israelism. The thesis of British-Israelism also referred to as Anglo-Israelism, is that Great Britain was the geographical home of the lost tribes of Israel. The teaching identified the present-day Anglo-Saxon people as God’s Chosen People. Charles Parham was a major proponent of British-Israelism. The teaching was popular at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th but has generally fallen out of favor. Dallimore believed that corrupting European philosophies, including communism were to be fought by men of God. In 1932 Dallimore wrote two books, the first was on healing “Healing by Faith, Including Many Testimonies of Healing Received by People in New Zealand” and then “Britain-Israel: chats about our empire, our people and our origin.”
Dallimore became increasingly unorthodox. His teachings on British-Israelism overshadowed other doctrines. In 1932 he predicted that Edward VIII would not marry but lead Anglo-Saxons into a new purity, which would then bring the return of Christ in 1936. He also shifted his story of being healed as a youngster to being raised from the dead by his mother. Dallimore spent a lot of time teaching that the Great Pyramid of Giza had special significance. Healings became less frequent and his converts started moving into more traditional churches. His congregation steadily shrank. Dallimore achieved more notoriety in the 1950s by becoming an anti-Trinitarian. It is interesting to note that his wife became an Anglican in the 1950s, evidently feeling that Dallimore had left the fundamentals of the faith by that time. He remained in ministry until 1960. The Revival Fire Mission closed its doors in 1968. A. H. Dallimore died in Auckland on July 23, 1970, at the age of 96.
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