Archive for the ‘Revival’ category

Anguish

September 29, 2011

David Wilkerson shares about what I have learned to be “soul travail.” No one talks about it these days, but I’ve read about it from the Puritans and those whom God used in history to bring revival and renewal to God’s people.

Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Two

April 9, 2008

Picking up where we left off with part one of my interview with Collin Hansen, I ask the following questions in part two:

1.  I am going to name off a list of words that begin with the letter “r”, and I want you to tell me which one you believe best describes this phenomenon.  Here they are: “renaissance”, “reformation”, “revival”, “resurgence”, “revolution”, and “reaction.”  What say you Collin?

2.  Tim Challies recently reviewed the book, and Challies stated, “If there is a flaw or a weak point to this book, it may be that its focus is more on today than on yesterday and tomorrow. This is to say that Hansen takes the reader through many of the current hot spots in this movement and shows how it has propagated itself, but he invests far less time showing how this movement grew up and predicting where it may be going. There are hints in these directions, but perhaps not as much detail as I would have liked. Of course such analysis may well fall outside the scope of this title and it may best be handled by church historians.”  Do you care to respond to Tim’s critique?  Is this movement a fad or will it have long-term consequence?  How will this period of church history, and this movement, be remembered?

3.  One of the things that has intrigued me about this movement is that it is more than the young who are restless and reformed.  This seems to be a multi-generational movement where the older leaders are making intentional investments in the younger generations.  For instance, Piper has TBI, Mohler and SBTS, Dever and IX Marks, C.J. and Sovereign Grace and the Pastor’s College, Driscoll and Acts 29, Tom Ascol and Founders, and on and on.  And more specifically, these men are mentoring other men to succeed them in ministry, perhaps best seen in the relationship of C.J. Mahaney and Josh Harris.  Do you see this being the promise of perpetual blessing and hope for a sustained effort?  What about missions and church planting efforts in the future?

4.  There seems to be a pattern or movement to reform or revival that can be traced.  Over the course of these past few years, how would you best explain the genesis and progress of this phenomenon to being what it is today?  Secondly, would you say that this revival is centered in academia/conferences or with the churches?

5.  Over the past couple of years, we have seen disagreements within the Reformed tradition, such as MacArthur on “self-respecting Calvinists” being premillennial, Piper regarding baptism and church membership, and Driscoll regarding the missional mindset.  It appears that, too, it seems that followers can be found, saying, “I am of IX Marks.  I am of Acts 29.  I am of Desiring God.”  So my question to you would be, how “together” are we really?

Total listening time for part two is approximately 31 minutes.  So here it is (right click, save as):

Interview with Collin Hansen Part Two

Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One

April 7, 2008

Collin Hansen and I took some time last week to discuss his new book, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Crossway Books), which was just released last week. I have broken the interview down into three sections (podcasts), approximately 25 minutes for each section. I hope that this discussion will be interesting, helpful, and engaging.

In this part of the interview, I asked the following questions:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from, how you became a Christian, and what you are doing these days?

2. Now would you consider yourself young, restless, and reformed?

3. So you have written on perhaps the most controversial topic today (Calvinism) from a journalistic perspective, so what brought this book about? Why did you choose to do this book in particular?

4. The subtitle of your book is “A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists,” so I was wondering if you could share what is “new” about the “new Calvinists.” Are they any different from the Calvinists of yesteryear?

5. In your two years of traveling, researching, and writing, was there anything that really surprised you? Anything that caused you great concern?

So here it is: Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One
(right click, save as) :: (Total listening time: 26 minutes)

If you listened and would like to interact or discuss what we talked about, feel free to chime in on the comments section of this post. Again, big thanks to Collin for take time out to discuss his book. Part two and three are coming soon.

Related Posts:

>> Are We Creating a Reformed Celebrity Culture?
>> Reflections on Young, Restless, and Reformed Article

Finney the Controversialist

December 3, 2007

“Mr. Finney does not pretend to teach a slightly modified form of old doctrine. He is far from claiming substantial agreement with the wise and good among the orthodox of the past and present generation. On the contrary, there is a very peculiar self-isolation about him. Through all his writings there is found an ill-concealed claim to be considered as one called and anointed of God, to do a singular and great work. There is scarcely a recognition of any fellow-labourers in the same field with him. One might suppose indeed, that he considered himself the residuary legatee of all the prophetic and apostolic authority that has ever been in the world, so arrogant does he assume all knowledge to himself, so loftily does he arraign and rebuke all other ministers of the gospel. He stands alone in the midst of abounding degeneracy, the only one who has not bowed the knee to Baal. The whole world is wrong, and he proposes to set them right. Ministers and professors of religion have hitherto been ignorant what truths should be taught to promote revivals of religion, and he offers to impart to them infallible information.”[1]

As I have been studying the theology and influence of Charles G. Finney in recent months, one of the most astonishing observations I have come to discern about him is his hypocrisy. In this article, I want make three points: Finney the Controversialist, Finney the Hypocrite, and Finney’s Legacy for today. On an administrative note, this will be my last article for the time being on the SBC and the controversy of Calvinism. So Let’s begin with Finney the Controversalist.

Finney’s Mission to Demolish

Finney detested the Old School doctrines of divine sovereignty and unconditional election. Moreover, he denied the total depravity or inability of man. Iain Murray points out that “the Memoirs-which deal most fully with the early period of his ministry-portrays him as continually waging a crusade to change the doctrinal standards of the churches.”[2] For instance, “In 1828, he sought to hunt out people ‘from under those peculiar views of orthodoxy in which I found them entrenched.”[3] Finney’s mission, in his own words, was, “Wherever I found that any class of person were hidden behind these dogmas, I did not hesitate to demolish them, to the best of my ability.”[4] In the same vane, Finney writes in his Lectures, “When I began ministering, so much has been said about God’s election and sovereignty that I found it was a universal hiding place for both sinners and the church. They couldn’t do a thing; they couldn’t obey the Gospel. Wherever I went I had to demolish these refuges of lies.”[5] Such a mission in his early ministry dominated him to the point that he confessed, “Much of my labor in the ministry has consisted in correcting these views.”[6] Generations who succeeded Finney would soon realize this major component of Finney’s life, as G. Frederick Wright notes, “Finney has left in literature a permanent record not only of his life, but also of his struggles to adjust the truths of Christianity into such a harmonious system of thought that no violence should be done to the dictates of reason. This, as he often said, was (after that of the actual conversion of souls), the great aim of his life.”[7]

(more…)

Remember for your rich encouragement, the doctrine of sovereign grace.

November 14, 2007

In his lecture, “Divine Agency in Revivals,” W.B. Sprague concludes with these words:

“Go and do your duty to each other and to the world; go and instruct the ignorant and guide in the inquiring and put forth every effort you can to bring souls to Jesus; but remember after all, and remember for your rich encouragement, the doctrine of sovereign grace. Yes, even in the moments when you feel the weakest and your work seems the greatest, and when obstacles the most appalling rise up in your path, and when your heart is driven from every other source of hope, even then remember the doctrine of sovereign grace and hold on your way, labouring yet rejoicing.”

W.B. Sprague, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2007), 88.

What an encouraging word! They be but one of you today who is growing weary in doing good. Your hands are beginning to drop, your heart beginning to fail, your hopes begin to fade. Be encouraged, my friend, and ponder anew the doctrine of sovereign grace. Almighty, Omnipotent God will accomplish what is lacking, for He who began a good work in you will continue to will and to do according to His good pleasure. I pray you are as encouraged as I am to know that God is “in” us and “for” us through His Son Jesus Christ who stands in our place!

Remember after all,

and remember for your rich encouragement,

the doctrine of sovereign grace.

New “New Measures”

October 23, 2007

I’ve been reading some Finney lately, especially his Lectures on Revivals in which he defends his use of “new measures,” viz. the “anxious meeting,” “protracted meeting,” and the “anxious seat.” Finney believed that revival came through the right use of means which a preacher makes effectual the same way a sinner makes conversion effectual (“make for yourself a new heart“). Furthermore, Finney argued that excitement and/or emotional stirring is an appropriate means to bring about the revival he guaranteed would follow (by law of cause and effect). Anyone who would challenge the legitimacy of his “new measures” would be dubbed anti-evangelistic and seeking to quench the Spirit.  Over the course of my life, I have attended numerous “protracted meetings” (revival services) where the “anxious seat” (i.e. altar calls) were used to the evangelist’s advantage. In fact, I have been told by successful evangelists in the SBC that they know exactly what buttons to push to evoke certain responses to guarantee “successful” revival services (much of this was learned by watching famous evangelists such as Billy Graham for example, who by the way, was quite fond of Finney). Having pondered Finney’s legacy and the new “new measures” I have stumbled upon in recent years, I thought I’d mention some that came to my attention.

1. “I See That Hand” or “God Bless You”

This new measure occurs at the close of the service when the pastor/evangelist/revivalist wants a visible sign to know who or how many unbelievers there are in the meeting. With every head bowed and every eye closed, the pastor is the only person privy to see who raises their hands, lifts up their face, stands up, etc. I was informed that an effective way to promote visible responses is to say “God Bless You” or “I See That Hand” when no hands are raised or no one is looking up. The rationale is that doing this frees others who otherwise would not be courageous or bold enough to do it themselves. If a person hears that someone else has raised their hand or lifted their face (when in fact they haven’t), they will be encouraged to do the same.

2. “The Orchestrated Response”

The purpose of this measure is to take away the dreaded fear of being the only one walking down an aisle. What normally happens is that those involved in counseling or pre-selected members in the church would walk down different aisles at different times and stand near the front. This removes the idea of a person being the first or only one moving forward. The pastor/evangelist would sometimes mention that at the moment you take the first step in the aisle, God is moving to save you.

3. “Prayer Request”

Similar to the “I See That Hand” measure, this measure deals with a pastor/evangelist who asks for a visible sign for anyone who would like for someone to pray for them. When a person’s hand is raised, they are asked to come forward to the altar. What occurs next is that they are led to repeat the sinner’s prayer in which they would “accept Jesus into their heart.” Therefore, the “prayer request” measure would result in not someone praying for them but rather the recitation of the “sinner’s prayer.”

4. “Nail It Down”

The “Nail It Down” measure can be found preachers who say that “if feel that you are 99% saved, then you are 100% lost,” making the assertion that “it is better to be saved twice than to be lost once” (I have heard both in revival services). Nailing it down is a term for those who might have made a profession of faith when they were young (say at VBS) but had doubts about their salvation now that they are older. While they may truly be saved, “nailing it down” is a measure used to offer assurance and peace of mind to those dealing with doubt.

5. “Word of Knowledge”

While this measure is more common in charismatic or Pentecostal services, I have witnessed it in several SBC revival services as well. Generally, the revivalist will claim that he has a “word of knowledge” about someone in the meeting, and that the appropriate response would be to heed that word and come forward for salvation. For instance, a young man could be dealing with pornography and has a sexual addition. The revivalist would then apply the pressure with the appropriate “word of knowledge” and move from a flood light approach to a laser beam, pinpointing certain individuals who fit the declaration.

6. “Itinerant Spirit”

Lastly, the “itinerant Spirit” measure is one that says that Holy Spirit is passing through and only here for a short period of time. If you do not come forward and get saved today, you may never get the change again because the Spirit is going to pass you by (assuming you have blasphemed the Spirit). The measure is to excite an immediate and prompt response with the fear that God may abandon you forever if you do not accept Jesus right then and there.

I know that some of you who read these new “new measures” will think I have made all this up. I regret to say that I have not. Others will find this controversial-perhaps as controversial (if not more so) as Finney’s measures in his day. Indeed they are. Not only are they an embrace of his measures, they are a “new and improved” version that, if questioned by anyone, they will be dubbed as anti-evangelistic or critical. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to bring them up, as those who practice such measures, would most likely not be embarrassed to claim them, since, as Finney argues, they are means to accomplish the ends.

Lloyd-Jones to Church Members: Read Jonathan Edwards.

October 19, 2007

In his book, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote about “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival.” Needless to say, the church in the 21st century is in need of revival. The answer many churches are resorting to is the path of Charles Finney with protracted meetings (revival meetings) and anxious seats (altar calls). Lloyd-Jones offers an alternative for those church members seeking revival. He writes:

“My advice to you is: Read Jonathan Edwards. Stop going to so many meetings; stop craving for the various forms of entertainment which are so popular in evangelical circles at the present time. Learn to stay at home. Learn to read again, and do not merely read the exciting stories of certain modern people. Go back to something solid and deep and real. Are we losing the art of reading? Revivals have often started as the result of people reading volumes such as these two volumes of Edwards’ works. So read this man. Decide to do so. Read his sermons; read his practical treatises, and then go on to the great discourses on theological subjects. But above all, let all of us, preachers and listeners, having read this man, try to capture and to lay hold upon his greatest emphasis of all – the glory of God.”

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 369-70.