Friday, May 16, 2008

Is This Revival?

Last night I heard that some people in our church were visiting meetings in Dudley with a guest speaker from the States hotfoot from a mini-revival. Yes, there are rumours of revival going on again in the States particularly this time in Lakeland Florida. Names that I am hearing include Todd Bentley and John Crowther. I am so glad when people truly experience God yet I think we also need discernment. Some of these people’s ideas and practices appear pretty whacky to say the least. Visions and angelic visitations abound. People are not just drunk in the Spirit as they were back in the days of the Toronto Blessing but are ‘sloshed’ and even ‘high’ in the Spirit. BTW thanks to Robbymac for the artwork.

This appears to be something more than just another series of meetings as there are many claims of supernatural healings. But I think people need to be careful about putting these things on a par with some of the great moves of God in the past. There are now meetings being broadcast daily on God TV and plenty of clips available on YouTube. I don’t doubt for a minute that the Holy Spirit is actually working in these gatherings and that some of these healings are actually real. I think it is sad that some Christians are not even to open to things like this happening today. But I am also concerned that media can easily hype things.

Personally I don’t get too excited about appeals in meetings with ministers walking down the lines laying hands on people expecting them to fall over and even less so when it comes to gold dust falling or milk dripping from walls. Perhaps not trickery - as these people do appear honest – but there could be a lot of Derren Brown like suggestion going on. But here is one case of a little girl being healed of a broken elbow that includes the X-rays. Now that would be pretty powerful suggestion! I would be interested in some more objective research into these healings and I think that more medical verification would actually give more credibility to what is happening.

So is this revival? I trust that my comments are balanced. What are your thoughts? I would really appreciate it if people could help me on this one and post their perspective on this, in the comments section. Thanks.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am always reluctant to criticise others' faith. I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit works in people's lives for the Good. As to whether for example speaking in tongues is real or not today - the New Testament is arguably a little ambiguous on this (in relation to the very early church of course) arguing in one place to carefully test whether what is being spoken has clear/real meaning, in others less critically. I am "agnostic" on this and on faith healings - if I'm not there (and I haven't been) I'm not fit to judge whether it's real or not and don't feel I have to have a certain "view" either way. I certainly don't think that churches where these "charismatic" phenomena (I only use that phrase for want of a better catch-all, and do not intend any particular meaning) are not manifest, are any the less for it.
If people want to dance in the aisles, that's great.
I do think anything that makes us look "silly" to people who might otherwise be open to the faith, .... then again, if it is real then it will attract people.
It is unusual for me to be this "balanced", usually I have a black and white view on everything !
PM

Anonymous said...

I believe God can do anything; his ways are not our ways (Is 55v8) and He often choose new ways to do things (Hab 1v5). Like you Dave, I shy away from hype - but like Paul, I'm not too picky about how the gospel is being shared (Phili 1v18),as long as it is. If people are being told that God is a miracle working God - then great, that's the absolute truth. However, my favourite miracle (if I'm allowed one!) is lives transformed through the redemptive work of the cross, people changed from Adam's seed to Christ's (Rom 5 v12)- living radically new lives! Bring it on... miracles make us believe (John 14v11; 1 cor 2v4)Having said all that I speak as someone who hasn't been to one of these meetings! Ruth

Helen said...

I think we do need to be careful how we judge things, and as I have not attended these meetings, I can't comment on what is happening there. But I also think God himself gives us the guidelines by which to discern and judge what we come across. Let's remember that angels are created beings who actually enjoy fewer spiritual blessings than redeemed humanity, and who certainly do NOT have the power or the authority to save people or transform lives. So be careful not be taken in by angelic visitations (speaking as someone who as seen angels personally). They enquire about us because we have been redeemed and have a status of co-heirs with Christ, which is beyond their reach!!
If folks are genuinely being healed, praise God! So long as those who are healed do praise God, and not the man who led the meetings, or the 'phenomenon' of revival, or the city the thing started from (for there can be an idolatry about these things). 'Revival' is not a bible word. What is being revived? If it is faith in the living God who saves us from our sin and restores us to right relationship with him so that we can glorify him with our transformed lives for the rest of our days, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I don't really know! I won't judge this particular case as I haven't been a first-hand witness, but I will look for the fruits of repentance in the long term in the lives of those who claim to have met the living God.

Mike Rimmer said...

I always think it's funny when Americans talk about revivals because over there the word seems to mean a big tent meeting with lots of people and a preacher in a fancy suit and a big choir and a great big bless up.

for us Brits who know their history, I always think of revival like in South Wales where people were saved, miners worshiped as they left their shifts down the pit, pubs were closed because of the impact of faith on communities. It isn't truly revival until the world around us knows about it.

I think both Dudley and Florida seem to be fitting into the first category at the moment. I love it when people get healed if God gets the glory.

There were many aspects of the "Toronto Blessing" which seemed unusual and yet my encounters with God at the meetings I attended in Pensacola and here in the UK only fuelled my passion for God. I am praying what we're seeing here will do the same.

As for healing, both my wife and I and a few others I know could really do with receiving physical healing. So we'll be going along to the Dudley meeting very soon to see what is happening and to receive prayer.

I guess I'll let you know if/when something happens!

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the comments that we dont attack the Lord's Anointing (for biblical backup look at Saul & David in 1 Samuel 24). Amazing things have been happening and I know of someone who was healed in the UK via the telly.

I also think we have to be careful and ask God for His discernment cos we could easily fall into scepticalism and miss what God is doing. There was same after Toronto & Pensicola.

We do need to look at how much of the Word is being preached and whether the glory is going to God or man.

Only time will tell (I know thats a cop out) but we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and see Him do wonders in our town cos if He can do it there he can do it here too.

There isnt anything special about the US. Gosd is the God of the whole earth

Glory to His name

Anthony

Dan said...

It's interesting. I am seriously challenged by my initial scepticism to hearing about this, with only limited information about what was happening. I think it was related to "it's all over the God Channel and YouTube" added to any sceptical thinking I had. Am I correctly sceptical, or does it reveal a lack of faith, or ways of thinking that have been conditioned by this cynical world, ways that I need to break out of.
I'm also challenged at my level of discernment - how can I know whether something on the other side of the world is of God or not. We don't want to get carried away, but we also want to be fully for anything that God is doing. I asked God about it and He told me to look for the fruit.
I want to see God move in power changing lives. Healings are wonderful, yet are only signs of the kingdom, and can be faked - indeed Jesus says that people would have prophesied and performed miracles in His name and He would say that He never knew them. So it's possible to fake these things, but that's the point of the gift of discernment.

On the doctrine issue of angelic visitations, I think that God tends to use angels as messengers, not as vessels of divine healing. The angel Gabriel didn't cause Mary to be "with child", it was Jesus. Has anyone got any links to some of the "revivalists'" messages/teaching about this?
But one thing is, God uses people who may not have their doctrine right, and blesses people through them. If God only used those whose doctrine was totally correct, then most of the people throughout history that you can think of who have been significantly used by God would be ruled out, and certainly it would rule me out. Praise God that he uses imperfect people.

David Derbyshire said...

Wow! Thank you for all your comments.

For the record I do believe in spiritual gifts such as healing and I am praying that God will touch Mike and Pip as well as others. I am thrilled when people’s Christian faith is revived and renewed as I can see happening here. But I am cautious of the hype and the flaky things that I can see accompanying these events too.

By the way this is a new generation of revivalists without the fancy suits. Instead I see men with tattoos, goatees, seedy pasts and an ability to laugh at themselves. Perhaps they’ll have more street cred? I don’t know.

Overall I think we all need to be personally discerning and sensitive to each other as well as to the Holy Spirit as we grab hold of what God is doing here.

Any more thoughts?

Dan said...

By the way, can anyone give a bit more first-hand information on what's happening close to home, in Dudley. I'm intrigued.

Also, I've been reading some of Todd Bentley's angelic doctrine stuff - take a look: http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html - from 2003, I've not finished reading it yet, so can't give any comments, but I think that some of it is answered at http://www.apologeticsindex.org/691-todd-bentley-angels

Hope this is useful, Dan

David Derbyshire said...

I wonder if the stuff about angels may be a red-herring!

Anyway, some are saying that at gatherings such as the Dudley Outpouring the gospel is being preached, people are getting healed and being equipped in mission. There are similar things happening at other locations with Toronto Blessing style manifestations too. For instance, a bit nearer to you Dan, there are some claims about a new Welsh revival at www.emergewales.com.

However our elder Steve has been over to one of the meetings in Dudley and I think it is fair to say that he was not impressed. All this makes me think that this “revival” may well be something like 10% God and 90% hype. But please feel free to check it out further for yourself.

paul said...

hi dave, the thing that bothers me is that in our church we have people who do strange things when the spirit comes upon them.some people shake and sway everywhere. others make funny noises and bend over as if someone is punching them in the stomach. do you think this is the spirit making them do this or could it be a show that they are putting on to impress others in the church

David Derbyshire said...

It is interesting that this is happening in your church. We’ve not seen anything like this recently in our gatherings. I hope people are not doing it deliberately for show. It could be a sincere response to their experience of God but I do wonder how much it is unconscious conformity to what they have seen in meetings like the Florida Outpouring. But then again perhaps we do need to express our emotions more in worship.

Mike Morrell said...

How did I miss your post? I shall straightaway!