Yes, John G Lake was a Con Man: A Response to Marius Nel

Barry Morton


This response to Marius Nel’s 2016 article (in Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae no. 42, 1, 62-85) uses primary source material to refute his claims that John G Lake, the initiator of Pentecostalism in southern Africa, was an upstanding man of God. A wide array of American and South African sources show that Lake invented an extensive but fictitious life story, while also creating a similarly dubious divine calling that obscured his involvement in gruesome killings in America. Once in South Africa, he used invented “miracles” to raise funds abroad for the Apostolic Faith Mission. Before long, he faced many accusations of duplicity from inside his own church.


John G Lake; Apostolic Faith Mission; Charles Parham; Parhamite; John Alexander Dowie; Marius Nel

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Anderson, W. C. Adventures in Religion: Messages of John G Lake. Meridian, ID: Standsure Ministries, 2002.

Blake, C., Ed., John G Lake’s Writings from Africa. Xulon Press, 2005.

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Morton, B. “John Alexander Dowie and the Invention of Modern Faith Healing, 1882-89.” 2015.

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Articles from Pentecostal newspapers and journals – not citing authors

“God Has Visited Africa.” Apostolic Faith, no. 11 (Nov-Dec 1909): 1.

“Indiana Missionary Convention.” Apostolic Faith, no. 1, 12 (Jan 1908): 2.

“Letter from Bro. J. G. Lake.” Confidence, no. 2, 8 (1909): 185-6.

“Missionaries for Africa.” Pentecost (August 1908): 2-3, 6-7.

“South Africa,” Confidence no. 11, 12 (December 1909): 281.

“South Africa.” Confidence no. 11, 9 (September 1909): 209.

“The Latter Rain in Zion City, Ill.” Apostolic Faith, no. 1, 9 (June-Sept 1907): 1.

Our History, 1890-1968. Harvey, IL: First United Methodist Church, 1968.



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