The Latter Rain Movement as currently constituted grew out of events at Sharon Orphanage and Schools at North Battleford, Saskatchewan between 1947 and 1948.
Religious observers marked the start of a new movement within the Pentecostal family of churches around the world because of new, some would say radical, ideas about certain Scriptures expressed at this point by those who were to become the movement's leaders. Believers in this theology think that this "new wave" of the Spirit was the "latter rain" referred to in such Bible passages as Jeremiah 3:3 and 5:2, Joel 2:23, Hosea 6:3, Zechariah 10:1, and James 5:7. To some of its followers, these events marked the most important developments in Pentecostal Christianity since the Azusa Street Revival.
- The latter rain. Central to the Latter Rain movement was an expectation of the imminent return of Jesus. Based on an allegorical interpretation of scriptures such as Joel 2:23, the movement held that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost had been the "former rain" that established the Church, and that the current "move" of the Spirit was the "latter rain" that would bring the Church's work to completion, and culminate in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- The baptism of the holy spirit. Unlike mainstream Pentecostalism, which holds that the baptism of the Holy Spirit usually comes after prolonged "tarrying" or waiting for the Spirit, the Latter Rain movement taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be imparted on one believer by another through the "laying on of hands."
- The fivefold ministry. The Latter Rain taught that of the five ministerial roles mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher), the foundational roles of apostle and prophet had been stolen from the Church by Satan, but that God was restoring these ministries in the present day.
- Christian ecumenism. The Latter Rain taught that God saw the church organized not into denominational camps, but along geographical lines. They expected that in the coming last days, the various Christian denominations would dissolve, and the true church would coalesce into citywide churches under the leadership of the newly-restored apostles and prophets.
- The Manifest(ed) Sons of God. Some leaders of the Latter Rain movement taught that as the end of the age approached, a select group of "overcomers" would arise within the Church. These Manifest Sons of God would receive the "spiritual bodies" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15. They would become immortal, and receive a number of divine gifts, including the ability to change their physical appearance, to speak any language, to teleport from place to place, and to perform divine healings and other miracles. They would complete the Great Commission, spreading the gospel throughout the world, and at last usher in the millennial reign of Christ.
The Charismatic and Pentecostal movements in the US, and throughout the world, have been influenced by this movement. However, this belief is not held by a majority within either movement. In fact, some of the most ardent critics of the Manifest Sons of God and Latter Rain movements come from within the Pentecostal movement itself, especially concerning the more "supernatural" aspects to the theology.
The Latter Rain Movement had its beginnings in the years following World War II. When its proponents tried to mainline it into the Pentecostal Churches and in particular the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada where it started (Saskatchewan), it almost split the church. Nearly half of the assemblies within that province became part of the Latter Rain Movement and broke from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. It was an extremely controversial issue at the time, and many felt that this was a false movement insinuating its way into the church which glorified men of charisma. There was also concern that it espoused a post-millennial rather than pre-millennial scenario of the "End times." In 1949 the Assemblies of God condemned the doctrine of the 'Latter Rain Movement' as heresy.