Sister Aimee was perhaps the most popular American evangelist between World War One and World War Two. She was a mother, an ardent anti-evolutionist, a persistent advocate for a vision of a “Christian America,” a faith healer, and one of the leading supporters of the contemporary revival of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, bringing a marginalized (and still contentious ) Pentecostalism into the very mainstream of American culture. She was also an extreme controversialist in her time: a divorcee who nevertheless pursued full-time Christian ministry and brought sensational headlines during her “infamous” disappearance off the coast of Los Angeles in 1926. Did she run off to have an affair with a married man, or was she kidnapped?
To the point of the last post, she was a female preacher. Was Sister Aimee using her public speaking gifts and following her God-given calling? Or was she in rebellion against the Word of God, failing to heed the Apostle Paul’s admonition for women not “to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:11-12 KJV)? Did biblical doctrine take a back seat to some degree to her experience, or was she following in the footsteps of the prophetess and judge, Deborah? I find Sister Aimee’s legacy to be a mixed bag, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.
Christian History magazine has a nice write-up on her. The PBS program American Experience did a film about her life. The following YouTube video includes the PBS program, followed by one of her recorded radio sermons.