Simpson, Albert Benjamin (1843-1919)
Founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance
Raised as a strict Scottish Presbyterian on Prince Edward Island, Canada, Simpson was attracted as a teenager to Puritan devotional writings. In 1865 he was ordained and then served prestigious churches in Hamilton, Ontario, and Louisville, Kentucky. In 1847 he incorporated holiness ideas into his Reformed faith and was filled with the Holy Spirit, a turning point in his ministry. In 1881 he was rebaptized by immersion and experienced faith-healing of heart trouble. Resigning from the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, he founded the Gospel Tabernacle, from which he launched various mission and healing activities, including rescue missions, an orphanage, healing homes, and outreach to immigrants.
Simpson believed that Jesus’ return was dependent on the gospel being preached to all the world. Fulfilling the Great Commission thus became the focus of his vocation and he felt a missionary call to China. Unable to go because of family opposition, he threw himself into “home base” activities for world mission. In 1880 he published the first illustrated mission magazine in North America, The Gospel in All Lands. He opened the New York Missionary Training College (later Nyack College), which sought to give lay people a foundation in the Scriptures and to get them quickly onto the mission field.
At his first annual summer convention in Old Orchard, Maine, in 1887, Simpson founded the Christian Alliance and the Evangelical Missionary Alliance. The Christian Alliance spread missionary fervor at the home base, while the Evangelical Missionary Alliance acted as a foreign mission board. An interdenominational mission movement, the alliances merged a decade later and became the Christian and Missionary Alliance. By 1895, the C&MA had sent out nearly 300 missionaries. Simpson led the organization until his death. His wife, Margaret, served as financial secretary and as secretary of missionary appointment and equipment. Simpson wrote hundreds of books and articles and edited The Word, the Work, and the World, a weekly publication. He recruited people into the movement by holding summer mission conventions, by preaching on missions, and by educating people at his Missionary Training Institute. After Pentecostalism emerged in the early twentieth century, the C&MA lost many supporters and missionaries because Simpson refused to say that speaking in tongues was necessary for salvation. Under his leadership, the C&MA was nevertheless the most important of the early American pre-millennial “faith missions.”
Dana L. Robert, “Albert Benjamin Simpson,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 622.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
_____. A Larger Christian Life. New York: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1890.
_____. Hymns and Songs of the Four-fold Gospel, and the Fullness of Jesus. New York: Christian Alliance, 1891.
_____. The Holy Spirit, or, Power from on High: An Unfolding of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Part I. The Old Testament. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1895.
_____. The Holy Spirit, or, Power from on High: An Unfolding of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Part II. The New Testament. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1895.
_____. The Apostolic Church. Nyack, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing, Co., 1900.
_____. Hymns of the Christian Life no. 3: For Church Worship, Conventions, Evangelistic Services, Prayer Meetings, Missionary Meetings, Revival Services, Rescue Mission Work and Sunday Schools. New York: Alliance Press Co., 1904.
_____. The Cross of Christ. Brooklyn, NY: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1910.
_____. Life More Abundantly. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1912.
Thompson, Albert E. The Life of A. B. Simpson. Brooklyn, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1920.
Simpson. A. B. Christ in the Bible. New York: Word, Work and World Pub. Co., 1888.
_____. The Land of Promise; or, Our Full Inheritance in Christ. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., [1888?].
_____. In the School of Christ; or, Lessons from New Testament Characters concerning Christian Life and Experience. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1890.
_____. Walking in Love. New York: Christian Alliance, [1892?].
_____. Larger Outlooks on Missionary Lands: Descriptive Sketches of a Missionary Journey through Egypt, Palestine, India, Burma, Malaysia, China, Japan, and the Sandwich Islands. New York: Christian Alliance Pub., [1893?].
_____. Emblems of the Holy Spirit. Nyack: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1895.
_____. Danger Lines in the Deeper Life. South Nyack, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1898.
_____. Making Jesus King. South Nyack, NY: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1898.
_____. But God: The Resources and Sufficiency of God. Brooklyn, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., .
__________. The King’s Business. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1900.
_____. Practical Christianity. Brooklyn, NY: Christian Alliance, [1901?].
_____. Called to Serve at Home [or, Tarrying by the Stuff]. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, [19–].
_____. Christian Science Unchristian. New York: Alliance Press Co., [1907?].
_____. The Old Faith and the New Gospels; Special Addresses on Christianity and Modern Thought. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1911.
_____. When the Comforter Came. Brooklyn, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1911.
_____. The Coming One. New York: Christian Alliance, 1912.
_____. The Gospel of Healing. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1915.
_____. Songs of the Spirit: Hitherto Unpublished Poems and a Few Old Favorites. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1920.
_____. Earnests of the Coming Age: And Other Sermons. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1921.
_____. Missionary Messages. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., .
Simpson, A. B. and Alfred C. Snead. Wholly Sanctified. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1925.
McGraw, Gerald E. “A. B. Simpson.” In Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, edited by Gerald H. Anderson et al. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1994. Pp. 37-47.
Hartzfeld, David F. and Charles Nienkrichen, eds. The Birth of a Vision: Essays on the Ministry and Thought of Albert B. Simpson. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1986.
Nienkirchen, Charles W. A. B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement: A Study in Continuity, Crisis, and Change. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010.
“Albert Benjamin Simpson: An Integrated Spirituality with Christ as the Centre,” by Rev. David John Smith.
Biography, gospel songs, and photographs of A. B. Simpson.
“Himself,” by A. B. Simpson.
“A.B. Simpson.” In Simpson, A. B. Songs of the Spirit: Hitherto Unpublished Poems and a Few Old Favorites. New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1920.