Kathryn Kuhlman, Whore Of Babylon

I was eager to watch the SJW reaction to John MacArthur’s punking of Beth Moore. This article is dated a month prior to that incident yet completely relevant and an interesting historical window on how modern Charismatics ended up as pussy-chasing lackwits.

Female Evangelical Leaders Have a Hidden Predecessor to Thank

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/kathryn-kuhlman-female-evangelicals-hidden-predecessor.html

By Grant Wacker, 20 September 2019

“You have been called ‘hypnotic, charismatic, hypnotizing,’” said Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1974. His guest resisted. With a disarming smile, she said she was “just the most ordinary person in the world.” Carson didn’t buy it. “You’re not quite ordinary.”

With this telling anecdote, Amy Artman launches her masterful biography of Kathryn Kuhlman, a charismatic healing evangelist who emerged in the post-World War II era alongside Oral Roberts. It’s hard to say whether Roberts or Kuhlman was the most prominent healing evangelist of the day…

Obviously Roberts, since you probably never heard of Kuhlman.

…but it’s easy to say that she was the most prominent woman in the field. At the height of her ministry, many people considered Kuhlman “the best-known woman preacher in the world.” Very few female religious leaders of any theological stripe were famous enough to snare a berth on a network talk show like Carson’s.

Perhaps they were too well-behaved. Go ahead, take one guess at how Kuhlman’s marriage turned out. You only need one guess. And we’ll see in a minute how optimistic your guess was.

Kuhlman’s story is a big one, yet she has won little attention from historians. Most American religious history textbooks give her a few sentences at most and some none at all. In The Miracle Lady: Kathryn Kuhlman and the Transformation of Charismatic Christianity, Artman not only rescues Kuhlman from undeserved obscurity but also crafts a sweeping interpretation of the cultural origins of the modern charismatic movement. (Artman is careful to credit her secondary sources, including Edith Blumhofer, David Edwin Harrell, Wayne Warner, and, in the interest of full disclosure, me.)

Yes, cultural origins. Not Scriptural origins. The Pentecostals can at least trace their origin to the Azusa Street revival and claim that their creating a new denomination was only a consequence of existing denominations not accepting them. (MacArthur himself is outspoken against speaking in tongues, for example.) This may be why Pentecostalism is referred to separately from the Charismatic movement, they actually did follow Scripture. Originally.

Artman—who teaches religious studies at Missouri State University—offers ample biographical details, but her main interest lies in two overarching arguments.

It’s obvious why Artman wants to Make Kuhlman Great Again. She can’t justify her current position via Scripture so she hopes to justify it via precedent.

The first is that Kuhlman was one of the key figures to transform the “down-home” Pentecostal revival of the early 20th century into the “uptown” charismatic movement of the late 20th century. The second is that Kuhlman offers a revealing case study of the indisputable achievements of strong evangelical women and the equally indisputable roadblocks they often face.

The Pentecostal in me sneered at the first. The second is irrelevant. Women are forbidden from leadership so competence is a non-issue. Although since Tradcons love to “give women a chance”, here we are.

We know comparatively little about the Miracle Lady’s life before her rise to fame in the late 1940s. She grew up in Concordia, Missouri, a small town in the middle of the state. In 1924, when she was 17, Kuhlman dropped out of high school and hit the preaching circuit with an older sister and a brother-in-law. Then she spent two years studying at Simpson Bible Institute, a Christian and Missionary Alliance site in Seattle.

The original faith healers, at least in American history.

The young evangelist did not graduate from Simpson, but at some point she audited classes at L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles (what today is Life Pacific University).The school had been established by Aimee Semple McPherson, Kuhlman’s famed predecessor on the healing revival circuit.

McPherson is much like Kuhlman, an evangelist turned de facto-priest by the magic of early telecommunications and credulous morons. Interestingly, she’s the origin of the meme “I was left for dead in Mexico!” Off-topic but let’s segue for fun… hope I didn’t just date myself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aimee_Semple_McPherson

On May 18, 1926, McPherson disappeared from Ocean Park Beach, in Santa Monica, CA. Presuming she had drowned, searchers combed the beach and nearby area, but could not locate her body. Immediately, McPherson sightings occurred around the county, often in widely divergent locations many miles apart on the same day. The Angelus Temple received calls and letters claiming knowledge of McPherson, including demands for ransom. After several weeks of unpromising leads, Mildred Kennedy regarded the messages as hoaxes, believing her daughter dead.

Just as the Angelus Temple was preparing for a service commemorating McPherson’s death, on June 23, Kennedy received a phone call from Douglas, Arizona. Her distraught daughter was alive resting in a Douglas hospital, and was relating her story to officials.

McPherson stated, at the beach, she had been approached by a couple who wanted her to pray over their sick child. Walking with them to their car, she suddenly was shoved inside. A cloth laced with some type of drug was held against her face, causing her to pass out. Eventually, the revivalist was moved to a small shack in the Mexican desert. When her captors were away on errands, McPherson escaped out a window.

She then traveled through the desert for around 11–13 hours across an estimated distance of 20 miles (32 km); and reached Agua Prieta, Sonora, a Mexican border town, at around 1:00 a.m. Collapsing exhausted near a house, the evangelist was finally taken by locals to adjacent Douglas.

I don’t believe that. Why take her 460 miles to a tiny town in Mexico when Nevada, not to mention most of Southern California, had plenty of Nowhere spots available? And left unguarded in a small shack that had a window? Any crook that organized would at least have confiscated her shoes. Organized crime wouldn’t have been that stupid and amateurs wouldn’t have taken her that far.

Officials also had their doubts and she was investigated by a grand jury whether she’d run off with a former employee for a combination affair and publicity stunt. The case fell apart into an OJ Simpson-style media circus. Allegations of extramarital affairs haunted her the rest of her life, and seeing as she associated with celebrities such as Mahatma Gandhi and President Roosevelt after a “vindication tour”, hypergamy makes it very likely that she was indeed a slut.

End segue.

 

After her studies, Kuhlman once again embarked on itinerant ministry with her sister and brother-in-law. In 1933, freshly ordained by the Evangelical Church Alliance, she settled down as pastor of an independent church in Denver.Under her ministry, the fellowship prospered.

Witch!

Kuhlman’s story took an abrupt turn when she met a traveling evangelist named Burroughs A. Waltrip. In 1938, Waltrip divorced his wife and abandoned his two sons in order to marry her. Burdened by (unproven) rumors of adultery, both Waltrip and Kuhlman tumbled into obscurity. The marriage, too, soon hit the rocks, and in 1944 the couple separated. Waltrip charged Kuhlman with abandonment, and in 1947 they divorced.

If your guess was at all pessimistic then it couldn’t have been far off. Vows of lifetime fidelity start ringing hollow the second time around, don’t they?

After Kuhlman’s reputation rebounded…

Which proves men have always been thinking with their little head. Feminism is less a modern curse than an incurable condition that occasionally breaks out into a rash, like shingles.

But telecommunications were a game-changer, it seems. Kuhlman and McPherson both were early pioneers in mass media, before male clergy began making effective use of it. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising. I remain astonished that men give money to Internet whores. Why, you dickheads? Porn is free! There’s so much of it that those of you who wish to indulge, can indulge for free! Quality stuff, too! But noooo, you bankrupt yourselves just to hear Slutwalk Barbie whisper your name one single time.

Was the Charismatic/faith healing movement the precursor to camwhoring? That would explain much.

…she landed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she rented Carnegie Hall for her services. Although the prospering steeltown served as her main base of operations, she also crisscrossed the nation and much of the world.

April 1947 marked a major pivot point in Kuhlman’s career. Until then, she had seen herself as an old-fashioned evangelist, calling people to repent of their sins and turn to Christ. But that spring, says Artman, “Kuhlman received the first testimony to a miracle of divine healing at one of her services, a miracle she pointed to all her life as signifying the beginning of her healing ministry.”

HAHAHA! Pastorette Kathy stopped calling people to repent of their sins in the same year she got a divorce!

By the late 1970s, Kuhlman had leveraged her 55 years of ministry into an evangelical stardom that included her best-selling books, mass meetings, a national radio program, and two syndicated television shows, Your Faith and Mine and I Believe in Miracles. Her name and face soon grew familiar in thousands, possibly millions, of households across the nation.

Crime pays. Then you die.

How did Kuhlman do it? She had no advanced education or blue ribbon social connections (even within the evangelical world), nor could she boast of institutional support from a particular denomination or a parachurch group like Youth for Christ.

Canwhoring in the early days of television, that was how she did it. It’s so obvious now! The patterns line up!

Artman deftly shows how the larger culture prepared both Kuhlman and her followers for her ministry, especially healing. The trauma of World War I, the flu epidemic of 1918, and the inaccessibility of modern medicine [GQ: where’d that one come from?] primed people to look for cures in the church. Then, as now, the healing of the will and the mind was everywhere in the air. Norman Vincent Peale’s block-buster The Power of Positive Thinking sold millions.

Kuhlman also profited from the mid-century boom in religious radio and television programs, including Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision and Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Life Is Worth Living. She benefited, too, from second-wave feminism, which secured a woman’s right (however unfulfilled) to enter the workplace on equal footing with men. Female television stars like Barbara Walters, Arlene Francis, and Dinah Shore leveraged the new talk show format to their great advantage.

All this set the stage for the Miracle Lady.

By a combination of genes and skills, Kuhlman seemed born for the task.

Or demonically possessed. Check out my video links at the end.

Tall, willowy, and attractive, she fit the culture’s expectations for a successful female media figure. She knew how to dress the part, always modern and flamboyantly feminine. “Her flair for style and a little ‘sass,’” Artman wryly notes, appeared “in her choice of white high-heeled ankle-strap shoes that showed off her long legs to good advantage.”

Camwhores for Jesus!

Kuhlman’s stylized—critics called it affected—manner of speech won attention, too. She spoke easily with wit, candor, and earnestness. And she understood timing: how long to wait for a laugh, how long to pause for dramatic effect, and how long to talk. Beyond all that lay another aptitude that biographer Wayne Warner calls “Missouri cornbread.” Kuhlman used that phrase to describe how she communicated with her working-class audiences.

Though homiletics professors might cringe, Kuhlman’s sermons were well structured and ran close to traditional evangelical teachings. She urged a view of the end times, always just ahead, that her fundamentalist-leaning audiences had come to expect (especially an abstruse scheme theologians called “dispensational premillennialism”).

Her husband was a hellfire preacher so she probably got it from him.

Kuhlman also taught that healing for the body resided squarely in the atonement. If Christ’s work on the cross offered salvation for the soul, why not for our corporeal selves? Kuhlman often quoted an Old Testament line that her listeners knew by heart: “By his stripes we are healed.”

Because we aren’t going to live forever in meatspace. That’s why Christ’s work on the cross doesn’t help our mortal bodies. What sane Christian would want it to? Living forever in a corrupted world, constantly fighting against your own flesh and losing more often than you would like or God would tolerate, absent Christ’s salvation… I’d rather eat a bullet than spend eternity as a perennial disappointment to Father.

If old-fashioned evangelism had been Kuhlman’s only legacy, she would have been eclipsed not only by Billy Graham but also by the “Band of Brothers” that made Graham possible—Billy Sunday, Charles E. Fuller, Harold Ockenga, among many others. But, of course, it wasn’t. Though Kuhlman never considered herself a faith healer, most people did. And rightly so. By one journalist’s account, two million people claimed that through Kuhlman’s ministry they had experienced healing of ailments ranging from sniffles to cancer.

Either two million people were very badly misled or this author is trying very hard to whitewash Kuhlman’s prosperity gospel teachings.

They also claimed healing from ailments that skeptics dismissed as psychosomatic, yet Kuhlman remained undeterred. In the interview with Carson, the Miracle Lady pointed out that psychosomatic cases were the hardest to cure. “As she paused for effect,” Artman recounts, “the audience broke into applause . . . and Carson acknowledged her shrewd answer with a nod.”

Unlike Oral Roberts and the deliverance evangelists of the 1950s, Kuhlman avoided healing lines—people standing in a queue, patiently waiting their turn to be anointed by the evangelist’s healing hand. Nonetheless, she did routinely reach out to the faithful. Sometimes she actually touched them, sometimes not, but either way, she often “caused” them to fall to the floor, “slain by the Spirit.” They typically remained prone for several minutes but sometimes much longer.

Not relevant, but the first time I saw that happen I almost did CPR on the guy. It’s really disturbing when the associate pastor pulls a blanket over a guy apparently having a seizure… and then you notice he has more blankets ready for use… and then you wonder about the coffee you just drank.

In terms of theology, Kuhlman strongly opposed the notion advanced by Roberts and others that people would be healed if they had enough faith. “Too often,” she snapped, “I had seen pathetically sick people dragging their tired, weakened bodies home from a healing service, having been told that they were not healed simply because of their own lack of faith.” Instead, she used the gift of discernment to identify healings that had already taken place and called people to come forward and testify to God’s miraculous work in their bodies.

THAT’s how she claims to not be a faith healer? Spiritual gifting is real but those gifts are given for the benefit of others… not so the “gifted” can build a multi-million-dollar personality cult around herself. When they do that, they’re a fraudulent Christian even if the gifting is real.

That “love is patient, love is kind” Scripture passage that you constantly hear at weddings and see on Nikki’s ass at the Bottoms Up club? That is bookended by Paul’s discussion on spiritual gifting. It’s not a celebration of “twu wuv”, it’s a reminder of what’s important in the Christian life in the middle of discussing the people who get to play Elijah.

From the beginning of her ministry to the every end, Kuhlman strenuously insisted that she herself did not heal anyone. She was a mere instrument in the Holy Spirit’s hands, an untrained “maiden of the Lord.”

You quit school to follow your itinerant preacher brother-in-law… you married a preacher… you studied at two seminaries… and were ordained as a pastor… yet you’re an “untrained maiden of the Lord”?

More like “expert whore of Babylon”.

In Artman’s view, Kuhlman, more than any other individual, guided historic Pentecostalism into the modern charismatic movement.

Many older Pentecostals, now led by Kuhlman, leaned away from the margins and into the mainstream. They no longer encouraged overt emotionalism or insisted on glossolalia (speaking in tongues) as the only valid sign of Holy Spirit baptism or viewed non-Pentecostal Christians as hopelessly lost. Indeed, many took care to retain their ties to their natal mainline denominations, especially Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Catholics. Artman calls it the “gentrification” of the Pentecostal tradition.

As a result, the newer Pentecostals—now dubbed charismatics—quietly moved from the fringe of respectability toward the center. Maybe they never quite made it, but most came close enough to pass. Though Artman does not say so, she intimates that their position on the American religious landscape looked a lot like that of Mormons: almost good enough to be president.

Kuhlman’s career helps us understand not only the progression of 20th-century charismatic Christianity but also the role of female leaders in the American religious story. The problem here is that Kuhlman, like many evangelical women, held that men—and only men—should be formally ordained, administer the sacraments, and stand behind the pulpit and exposit Scripture. At home, women should submit to their husbands, joyfully if possible, obediently if necessary.

Seriously? The author is citing her for precedent then admitting she refuted that very precedent? I appreciate his full disclosure but seriously, now.

So how did Kuhlman reconcile the apparent contradiction between her restrictive theology of women in ministry and her own expansive practices? More precisely, how did she say what she said and then go out and do what she did?

To begin with, Kuhlman insisted that she was a preacher, not a pastor. When critics countered that this was a distinction without much of a difference—after all, she had served as a pastor explicitly in Denver and implicitly in Pittsburg—she nimbly shifted gears. In so many words, she said, “God called me. That’s all. God called me.” In 1973, Christianity Today asked Kuhlman straight up, “Why aren’t there more women preachers?” Her answer was equally straight up: “You will just have to ask God.”

Kuhlman is a liar and hypocrite along with being a false teacher and rebel against her husband. That’s not a precedent; it’s a pattern of female clergy.

Some cultural assumptions played in her favor. For example, women who served as founders of a ministry or denomination were viewed in a separate category. They acted not in their own capacity but rather as ad hoc instruments that the Holy Spirit used only for that particular time and that particular purpose. It also helped when female leaders placed their financial affairs in men’s hands, served in non-traditional spaces like auditoriums or civic centers rather than church buildings, and surrounded themselves with male musicians, counselors, or ushers.

Sound like anybody we know today? *cough* Beth Moore *cough*

McPherson offers another case in point. Her name appeared year after year on the front page of American newspapers; she established and served Angelus Temple, one of the largest churches on the West Coast; and she also founded and ran her own denomination, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. At the same time, “Sister,” as she was often called, refused to “sit under” the ministry of another woman, insisted that a man always accompany her on the platform, and chose only men as ushers.

Total bullshit hypocrisy. “I created this denomination from scratch but don’t worry, my kitchen bitch is the real pastor. God must be obeyed!”

Artman notes the same contradictions in The Miracle Lady. “Kuhlman lived the liberated life while opposing women’s lib,” she writes. “It is difficult to discern whether Kuhlman knew she was acting disingenuously or if it was just second nature to protect herself in the way she knew best. The answer probably lies somewhere in between.”

The age-old question of “do women have agency?” God said yes so there’s no excuse to not call a witch a witch.

In Artman’s even-handed treatment, Kuhlman emerges as a flawed yet admirable figure. She was tough, savvy, enormously gifted, and absolutely committed to serving God and God’s people, especially those broken by suffering. She was not free of ego, but she also evinced a humility that is hard to deny. Kuhlman once told the Lord, “Take nothing, and use it.” A grace note, perhaps, but in her case a grace note that seemed to echo the entire symphony.

She was a false priest turned TV celebrity almost before the term “TV celebrity” was coined.

Kuhlman’s example helped carve the space that many female clergy and clergy-like leaders have come to occupy on the Christian landscape. In The Miracle Lady’s foreword, historian Kate Bowler notes that today’s female faith leaders “owe much of their success to a handful of pioneers who battled convention and prejudice to convince American Christians that a woman’s voice could win the crowds.” Think Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, mainline preacher Barbara Brown Taylor, evangelical Bible teacher Beth Moore, charismatic evangelist Juanita Bynum, or Donna Barrett, who was recently voted in as the first female general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

No, they owe their success to weak men believing that encouraging female rebellion is legit religion. This paragraph is how I came across it while hunting reports for Beth Moore.

Not all would claim Kuhlman as a predecessor, but no matter. Artman makes a compelling case that the Miracle Lady spurred a growing conviction in the broader culture that God calls women as often as men to tend God’s kingdom on earth.

Unlike Social Justice Warriors, God never contradicts Himself. Kuhlman was a hypergamous celebrity dogged by suspicions of adultery, who denied being a pastor without recanting her ordination as a pastor, who weakened her teachings on Scripture when they would have condemned her for divorce and proceeded to let stupid male dickheads purchase her a new denomination.

That pattern of treacherous female clergy didn’t originate with Kathryn Kuhlman but she certainly perpetuated it. She eventually died of sleeping pill overdose compounded by failing kidneys… possibly a suicide but possibly not.

Kuhlman’s career was recent enough that youTube has archival video of her. She creeps me out. Especially her eyes:

2 thoughts on “Kathryn Kuhlman, Whore Of Babylon

  1. Pardon me, I know not the names of the various false prophets that label themselves- or allow themselves to be labeled- as Holy Father. Which snake is she embracing?

    Liked by 1 person

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