This paper will discuss the history, some heretical teachings, and life of Finis Jennings Dake: the author of the Dake Reference Study Bible, God’s Plan for Man, and other books.
- Survey of Finis Dake’s History
- Writings Produced
- Positive and Negative Influence on American Christianity
- Evaluation of the Spread and Impact of Dake’s Life and Teachings
Finis Jennings Dake (often just referred to as ‘Dake’) may not be well known in Baptist denominations, but within Pentecostal and Charismatic groups his study bible and other books have been used for decades. This paper will look at the history of Finis Dake, his written materials and theology, and the past and continuing impact of Dake within the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Word of Faith Movement.
Finis Dake and his teachings have been controversial for many years within some parts of Christianity, while other groups and teachers within Christianity have a very positive view of his publications and continue to regularly use them in their preaching and teaching. In the last two decades this writer has only found one Christian book store out of 16 visited that did not have Dake’s Study Bible or books for sale.
This writer believes that the impact of Dake on church history (and its continuing practice) has been severely underestimated. Many writers (such as McConnell and Hanegraaff) have focused heavily on the roots of the Faith Movement (most of the TV preachers on channels such as TBN) as coming almost strictly from E.W. Kenyon’s teachings. It is the contention of this writer that many (most?) of those within the Faith Movement have and continue to teach doctrines they have learned from Dake. The Faith Movement continues to experience significantly faster growth than many other parts of Christianity so Dake’s influence many continue to grow.
Below is a basic biographical outline of the major historical events of Dake’s life.
- Dake was born in October 18, 1902 in the small town of Iberia, MO.
- He was one of eleven children born to James and Mary Dake.
- Most of his early life was spent in Springfield, MO.
- His father was a contractor (in the housing industry).
- Dake’s father died in July 1912 which caused financial hardship for Dake and his family.
II. Life Before Ministry
- Dake left home in his mid-teens and worked as a ranch hand.
- Dake’s eventually moved further west in his desire was to be a ‘cowboy’.
- After working as a ranch hand and cowboy for 2 years, Dake returned home to find out that many in his family had become Christians.
- Dake (17 yrs. old) was saved during a prayer meeting in the winter of 1920.
III. Preparing For and Beginning Ministry
- Dake received the “gift of scriptures” in May 1920.
- Dake traveled west to begin attending “Glad Tidings Bible Institute” in San Francisco in 1921.
- Dake struggles with his teachers during his 1st year over his belief in God having a body, soul, and spirit (just as we do).
- Dake left and turned home to attend a new College much closer to home (Central Bible Institute).
IV. Ministry Work
- He began his first full time ministry work in 1924 with the belief he was called to be an evangelist (age 21).
- He became Pastor of a church in Joliet, Illinois in 1924.
- Dake graduated from Central Bible Institute May 1925.
- Dake was ordained with the Assemblies of God June 9th, 1927.
- Dake married Dorothy Dobbins on Oct. 7, 1925 after having met for the first time 20 days prior.
- In the summer of 1926 Dake and his wife became full time evangelists.
- Dake wrote the first version of “The Plan of the Ages” Bible chart that he used and was well known to his followers.
V. Ministry of Teaching
- Dake became the Principal of the newly opened “Texico Bible School” in Dallas, Texas in 1927.
- In 1929 Dake moved to Enid, OK to become the dean of men, and also one of the teachers of Southwestern Bible School..
- By 1930 there was significant complaints and controversy over some of Dake’s teachings (especially on the Pre-Adamite World). This controversy spread to Texas and Kansas.
- Dake resigned from Southwester because of the controversy May 5, 1931 and went back into evangelistic ministry.
VI. Problems in Zion
- Dake became Pastor of “Christian Assembly” in Zion, Ill in June 1932.
- On February 9th, 1937 Dake pled guilty and was convicted of violating the “Mann Act.” Dake had picked up Emma Barcelli (age 16) and driven her 360 miles (with three motel stops) south to St. Louis. He served six months in prison. Dake had "Petting" parties at the motels with the underage runaway teen.
- The Assemblies of God removed Dake’s credentials in March 1937.
VII. Church of God
- In 1942 Dake became a Pastor and part of the “Church of God.” And in 1948 was ordained.
- Dake traveled as an evangelist from 1947 to 1948.
- In 1949 he completed one of his two most significant and controversial works: “God’s Plan For Man.”
VIII. Radio and Publishing Ministry
- In 1948 Dake began his radio ministry.
- In 1961 “Dake Bible Sales” publishing was formed. Since then, this family owed publishing company has published all (except one) of Dake’s works.
- In 1963, Dake published his complete Study Bible.
- During most of the 70’s and 80’s Dake focused on writing and publishing his books and study bible (though he did a large amount of traveling ministry also).
- Dake was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1977.
- Dake died a few months after his wife, on July 7th, 1987.
Finis Dake published many pamphlets, books, and his Study Bible. Here are some of his publications:
- God’s Plan for Man (1949). This is his most complete book on theological topics. Many of the study notes for his reference Bible are taken from this book. Together God’s Plan for Man and his Reference Bible form his two largest and most complete works. To truly understand his theological teachings both of these are absolutely necessary.;
- Revelation Expounded (1950). An exposition of Bible prophecy and the Book of Revelation.
- Bible Truths Unmasked (1950). Discusses a variety of Biblical topics.
- The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (1963). Dake’s Reference Bible contains thousands of study notes and discusses the majority of Bible verses (it might be the most complete and thorough study bible that is published, though in this writers opinion is marred by theological problems).
- The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ (1977). Discusses the end-times, tribulation and other prophetic issues from a strongly dispensational viewpoint.
- Help For Today (1984). Devotional Scriptures.
- Heavenly Host (Compiled from his notes – 1995). Discussion of Angels.
- Another Time, Another Place, Another Man (Compiled – 1997). Discusses Faith, Science and the Creation account.
Finis Dake has had a significant influence on the Pentecostal and Charismatic branches of Christianity. Pastors and teachers in other denominations (such as Baptists) that this writer has talked with have very little if any knowledge of Dake.
Dake helped to start and lead a total of three Bible schools during his lifetime. He was well known for his intense desire to encourage fellow believers to take God’s Word in its literal sense. He also is a positive example of the importance of Christians (especially pastors and teachers) spending quality time reading and attempting to understand the Bible. Dake is said to have spent more than 75,000 hours before 1949, and 100,000 hours by 1963 in reading and studying the Bible. His emphasis on scholarly, in-depth study of the Bible was one that was often lacking within the Pentecostal movement of his day.
While his study of the Bible was admirable, there were two main areas where he had a negative impact upon American Christianity. The first, and lesser (?) of the two issues was the damage to Christ and his Christian witness by his sexual infidelity and “petting parties” with 16 year old Emma Barcelli and the resulting 6 month prison term. Dake was found to have stayed at motels in Waukegan, Bloomington, and East St. Louis with her. Each time he registered at “C. Anderson and Wife.” Dake failed to repent and continued both at the time and for many years to blame his indiscretion on the ‘Devil.’ For Dake, the Devil really did ‘make him do it.’ Emma Barcelli was ‘sentenced’ to the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls till she turned 18 (almost triple the 6 months to which Dake was sentenced). While all Christians have and will commit sin, it is disturbing that Dake did not repent and accept responsibility for his actions.
Dake’s unorthodox theology though continues to have a much more negative impact upon Christianity. There are many, many beliefs that Christians have held since the early church that Dake discards in his effort to take the Bible (completely) literally. Here are some examples of some of his more important doctrinal distortions (though there are many, many more):
1. "The Trinity-18 Fallacies" (Dake classifies these as being false teachings):
- "That there is only one person or one being called God." (He appears to misunderstand that the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that there is only one ‘person’ in the Trinity, but one essence/substance.)
- "That there is a difference in meaning of three human persons and three divine persons."
- "That the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are essential parts of one being, just as man is made up of body, soul, and spirit"
“What we mean by Divine Trinity is that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead, each one having his own personal spirit Body, personal soul, and personal spirit in the same sense each human being, angel, or any other being has his own body, soul, and spirit. We mean by body, whether a spirit body, or a flesh body, the house for the indwelling of the personal soul and spirit.”
In "God’s Plan for Man":
". . . God can be three distinct persons as separate and distinct as any three persons we know of in this life."
"If there are three persons in the Godhead and they exist as one, we must understand this oneness to be the same as in the case of several men being one-one in unity, as in John 17:11 . . .”
“When Jesus said, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39), He certainly did not want to leave the impression that spirit bodies were not real and tangible. He simply taught that spirit bodies were not composed of earthly flesh and bone.” Dake taught that God has a body just as we do (just composed of a different substance) and that he wears clothes, eats, has bodily parts (misinterpretation of anthropomorphism).
"What is there hard to understand about three persons in the Godhead being three separate persons in the same sense we can conceive of any other three persons? What is there hard to understand about three persons being one in unity as we can conceive of any number of persons? Do we have to believe that three persons must become one person in order to be three in one? Is this the case with three men who are one in unity? If not, then this is not the case of the three separate persons in the Godhead. Is it necessary for all persons who are one in unity to lose their own personality, their own bodies, souls, and spirits, and all get inside one person in order for them to be one in unity?. . . Could not God exist as three separate persons with three separate bodies, souls, and spirits, and still be one in unity?"
Dake’s denies the historic view of the Trinity, and instead teaches "Tri-Theism" which in reality would mean that there are three Gods, instead of One God.
Dake taught that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all have a body, soul, and spirit. Each also eats, wears cloths, and has hair, eyes, lips, and all other bodily parts as we do. God is "confined" to this body, soul, and spirit meaning He can only be in one place at any one time. God goes from place to place in a body just as we do (see note on John 4:24). God (all three) is our size and all three wear clothing. Many scholars disagree with the concept that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are confined to limited bodies.
Dake states as a fallacy that: "That God is invisible reality and cannot be seen by natural eyes." The insinuation is that if we had better telescopes we might actually be able to see heaven!
"When we use the word invisible we must not think of it altogether in the terms of substance, but mainly as distance-beyond eyesight, beyond natural visibility."
"No man, therefore, can say with Scriptural authority, that God consists of a kind of invisible substance which cannot be seen or touched by man."
"The reason we do not comprehend God more than we do by the senses is that He is bodily too far from us."
"There is no such thing as a world of creations made up of invisible substance. The so-called spirit-world must be understood simply as spirit beings inhabiting material worlds created by God. Heaven itself is a material planet . . . having cities, mansions, furniture, inhabitants, living conditions, etc." This material planet heaven is located in the north part of the universe.
"A spirit being can and does have real, material, and tangible spirit form, shape, and size, with bodily parts, soul passions, and spirit faculties."
". . . he cannot see God’s body due to the distance from earth to heaven where He dwells."
Dake believes that because each of the three persons who work together as one (unity) God each have their own body, soul, and spirit, God can only be in one place at one time. He cannot be everywhere. God’s presence can be felt everywhere, but Dake’s meaning for "presence" is different than what we would mean.
“God’s body is like that of a man, for man was created in His likeness. . . . God also has many other means of travel and goes from one place to another bodily as all other beings in existence."
"Spirit beings, including God, Himself, cannot be omnipresent in body, for their bodies are of ordinary size and must be at one place at a time, in the same way that bodies of men are always localized, being in one place at a time. God, angels, and other spirit beings go from place to place bodily as men do; . . . . Christ is a true example of what we mean by omnipresence. He said, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. . . In what sense is He in the midst of so many gatherings? This could
not mean that He is bodily present, for His body is in heaven seated at the right hand of God. . ."
"In this same sense Paul was with the Corinthians in spirit when they delivered the fornicator to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. In this sense, Paul and other believers dwelled in each other regardless of personal bodily distance from each other. . . We know that the personal body of Christ, or those of believers, are not omnipresent when they are in the lives of others in spirit presence, so the same thing is true of the Father and the Holy Spirit."
God learns things in ‘real time.’ God according to Dake is not all-knowing, but comes to understand and comprehend events as they occur.
"God gets to know things concerning the free moral actions of men as others do. . . God sends messengers throughout the Earth who report to Him of all that they find in the Earth that goes on. . . God does not take care of every detail of His vast business in all the kingdoms of the universe. His agents help Him and they are found in every part of the universe on missions for God. . . God sends messengers throughout the whole of His vast creations to find out for Him what He wants to know, the same as the head of any other business would be likely to do, so that plans may be made and actions taken accordingly.
"We have no statement in the entire Bible saying that God knows or even would like to know all acts and particular events of all vast creations of free moral agents from all eternity past; or that He has fixed decrees choosing and predestinating all the thoughts, acts, and deeds of free wills from all eternity past to all eternity future. God’s eternal plan for man is known from the beginning to the end and what He plans to bring to pass on Earth He has power to do, but concerning the free actions of free moral agents He does not know from all eternity what they will do before they are in existence and are here to have a part in His plan. He does not know which ones will be saved and which ones will be lost."
This brief look at Finis Dake’s theology shows just a few of the many theological doctrines that he is unorthodox on. The problem with his false theology is that many pastors and teachers continue to spread his teachings to their congregations. The Dake Family has approached these teachings in three different ways. The first way is to say that Dake really did not say these things. This is easily disproven by anyone willing to take the time to examine Dake’s vast teachings. The second way is ‘leave out’ important quotes and Dake sources when attributing ‘orthodoxy’ to his views. The third method has been to delete or rewrite specific aspects of his teachings. One area this has been done in is in regards to charges of racism that many have leveled at Dake because of his teaching that the races should remain segregated (both now and in eternity). To deal with the issue Dake Bible Sales has changed the wording and teachings of Dake in some of his publications (though they continue to state there was no racism present).
It is also the contention of this writer that many of the most influential pastors in America (many that have huge audiences) have studied Dake and incorporated some of his teachings into their belief system. There are many examples. One is Jimmy Swaggart and his belief in each person in the divine Godhead having:
“. . . His own personal spirit body, personal soul, and personal spirit. . . . Many people conclude that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one and the same. Actually, they are not. . . . The word “one” in this passage means one in unity. . . You can think of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as three different persons exactly as you would think of any three other people – their oneness pertaining strictly to their being one in purpose, design, and desire.”
Hank Hanegraaff believes that Kenneth Copeland and some other faith teachers may also have learned some of their teachings on healing from Dake. Especially those parts of their teachings that all sickness is caused by the demons (and the germs they control).
Other scholars have shown how many of the teachers in the Word of Faith movement have incorporated ideas from Dake on the issue of God wearing clothes, being six foot tall, and many others. While many culture watchers and others are able to see the errors in Dake’s teachings, some within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements still do not. This writer recently read a 43 page thesis by Mark McLean (professor at Evangel University – a Pentecostal university) and was astonished to see his downplaying Dake’s teachings on a variety of issues. Some other quotes from Faith teachers (included on the back of the Dake published “Dake Reference Library” include:
“I thank God for the people who produced the Dake Bible. Their hard
work has made it easier for me to teach God’s Word.”
• Joyce Meyers
“If I could put just one tool in the hands of any minister, it would be the
• Ralph Wilkerson
“The Dake Bible is the best reference and study Bible you can get! I have
personally worn out four Dake’s Bibles.”
• Marilyn Hickey
“The Dake Bible helped me build a solid foundation in the Word.”
• Creflo Dollar
“The Dake Bible is one of the greatest literary works ever made for
Pentecostal and Charismatic believers.”
• Rod Parsley
The impact of Finis Dake’s life has grown over time as his teachings have impacted many of the teachers within the Word of Faith Movement (sometimes just called Faith Movement). Many (most) of the TV evangelists and teachers on TBN and many other satellite states are heavily involved in the teachings and beliefs of the Word of Faith Movement, and a portion of those teachings come from Dake. Because of his teachings, many hundreds of thousands across the United States weekly hear some of is distortions and unorthodox teachings.
Finis J. Dake had many attributes that we as Christians should emulate (such as his in-depth Bible study, and desire to share God’s Word). While there was much to his life that was positive, there are also many aspects (especially his unorthodox theology) that likely will continue to have a negative impact on Christianity in America.
This writer has attempted to fairly treat Finis Dake and his teachings. While there are some areas this writer agrees with Dake on, there is so much theological error with his publications that his works cannot be recommended.
It is also the contention of this writer that the impact of Dake’s teachings and publications have been absorbed by many teachers and pastors (some in Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations, others in the Word of Faith Movement) who are daily damaging the understanding and lives of believers by teaching them these false doctrines.
It is also the hope of this writer that more writers and individuals within the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements will begin to speak out against the use of Dake’s publications and study bible.
Bible, Leon. Finis Jennings Dake: His Life and Ministry. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 2006.
Dake, Finis J. Another Time, Another Place, Another Man. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1997.
———. Bible Truths Unmasked. Atlanta: Bible Research Foundation, 1950.
———. God’s Plan for Man. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1949.
———. Heavenly Host. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1995.
———. Help For Today. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1984.
———. Revelation Expounded. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1950.
———. The Dake Annotated Reference Bible Owner’s Manual. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc.
———. The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1977.
Dake, Finis Jr. “Letters: Questions About Dake.” Christianity Today, April 4, 1994.
Ferraiuolo, Perucci. “Scholars Scrutinize Popular Dake’s Bible.” Christianity Today, January 10, 1994.
Finis, Dake. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc.
Hanegraaff, Hank. Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Horton, Michael. The Agony of Deceit: What some TV Preachers are Really Teaching. Moody Press, 1990.
McLean, Mark D. “The Gap Theory, Heaven as a Planet, and Other Popular Doctrines: Examining the Influence of the Writings of Finis Jennings Dake on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches.”
Wordsearch. Dake Reference Library. Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 2006.
Writer, Staff. “Flock Absolves Petting Parson, But Jail Waits.” Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, February 10, 1937.
———. “Zion Pastor Starts Term of 6 Months.” Zion City, IL Repository. Zion City, IL, February 16, 1937.
 Finis J. Dake, The Dake Annotated Reference Bible Owner’s Manual (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc.), 3-5. The ‘gift of scriptures’ was said to be the ability to quote scripture verses without ever having read or studied them
 The actual records from the Assemblies of God show he was ordained in 1927 (this writer has obtained official photocopies). Dake’s ‘official’ biography written by Leon Bible is in error by stating he was ordained in 1925.
 1926 according the Dake’s official biography. 1928 according to the actual AG records.
 Dake’s official biography states that Dake lived only a few miles from the state border. The attempt to downplay this incident falls flat though because he did not go to the state border in Wisconsin, but instead Missouri – 360 miles south west. The official biography also completely leaves out the fact that he stopped at three motels and used married names for both of them. The Official biography is published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc., and appears to be very biased in only presenting the positive aspects of Dake’s life.
 In an effort it appears to paint a ‘rosy’ picture, Dake’s biography does not mention this fact. The official AG records support it.
 Finis J. Dake, God’s Plan for Man (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1949).
 Finis J. Dake, Revelation Expounded (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1950).
 Finis J. Dake, Bible Truths Unmasked (Atlanta: Bible Research Foundation, 1950).
 Dake Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc.).
 Finis J. Dake, The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1977).
 Finis J. Dake, Help For Today (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1984).
 Finis J. Dake, Heavenly Host (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1995).
 Finis J. Dake, Another Time, Another Place, Another Man (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1997).
 Dake, God’s Plan for Man, Forward.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Preface.
 While it is possible these figures are correct, Dake would have had to spend at least 7 hours every day just reading his Bible. This may be an exaggeration on his part as he also spent significant time teaching, traveling, and completing other tasks. The motivation though to encourage others to spend significant time in Bible study is positive. This writer also finds it ‘interesting’ that he is said to have spent this many hours every day reading his Bible, yet supposedly had the “gift of scriptures” that allowed him to quote Bible verses he never memorized. If this “gift of scriptures” were real, he should have been able to spend more time in teaching and ministering to others and less time reading the Bible… since God would just impart the verses and knowledge he needed anyways!
 Staff Writer, “Flock Absolves Petting Parson, But Jail Waits,” Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, February 10, 1937), 1.
 Staff Writer, “Zion Pastor Starts Term of 6 Months,” Zion City, IL Repository (Zion City, IL, February 16, 1937), 1.
 Staff Writer, “Flock Absolves Petting Parson, But Jail Waits,” 1.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, N.T. 280.
 Ibid., NT. 280.
 Dake, God’s Plan for Man, 53.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 52.
 Ibid., 55.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, NT. 97.
 Perucci Ferraiuolo, “Scholars Scrutinize Popular Dake’s Bible,” Christianity Today, January 10, 1994, 50.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, 280.
 Dake, God’s Plan for Man, 51.
 Ibid., 52.
 Ibid., 58.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, 280, 562.
 Ibid., 120.
 Dake, God’s Plan for Man, 56.
 Finis, Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, #R 613.
 Ibid., 807 #B.
 Dake, God’s Plan for Man, 60.
 Ibid., 62.
 Ibid., 63.
 Finis Jr. Dake, “Letters: Questions About Dake,” Christianity Today, April 4, 1994, 12.
 Leon Bible, Finis Jennings Dake: His Life and Ministry (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 2006), 399.
 Michael Horton, The Agony of Deceit: What some TV Preachers are Really Teaching (Moody Press, 1990), 278.
 Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), 261-262.
 Ferraiuolo, “Scholars Scrutinize Popular Dake’s Bible,” 50.
 Mark D. McLean, “The Gap Theory, Heaven as a Planet, and Other Popular Doctrines: Examining the Influence of the Writings of Finis Jennings Dake on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches.” Thesis was written after 1990, but no date is given. Thesis available from: http://ifphc.org
 Wordsearch, Dake Reference Library (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 2006), Back of the Box.