Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Avoiding the "ditch" on the topic of Revival

(This is a rather lengthy introduction, if you haven't the time, scroll down to the links I offer)

I grew up attending churches of a certain denomination, so I've been to countless 'revivals'. As a matter of fact, up until the last few decades it was a standard part of the annual 'church calendar' to coordinate a 'fall' revival and a 'spring' revival. Back in the 60's and 70's these revivals were scheduled to last a full week--Sunday through Sunday--with a church service and/or activity every evening during the week.

Having grown up in that culture I was surprised to learn--after the Lord saved me in my early 20's--that 'revival' isn't about daily meetings, altar calls, knocking on doors, pot-luck suppers, fruitless professions, emotionally charged confessions, or great choir/musical presentations (all of which I gladly participated in).

Personally, I believe that the church as a whole misuses and misunderstands the term 'revival' just about as much as they misuse and misunderstand the term 'miracle'. In the late 70's and early 80's I was lead to believe that the "Jesus Freak" movement and the subsequent second-blessing/charismatic/third wave movement was in fact a modern-day 'revival'.

I think it's safe to say that once you've seen/experienced something aberrant within Christiandom, you are not likely to continue on in your Christian walk passively or unquestioningly. I do realize that there are two 'ditches' in which you can find yourself as you walk along--one is the ditch of apathy, and the other is the ditch of cynicism (where I believe our emergent friends are gathering).

As I began to question and examine the Biblical view of 'revival' in light of our modern-day 'revivals' I soon found that many others had questioned and/or defended 'revivals' of their day. So, it's no surprise that in the mid to late 80's I ended up encountering the writings of Jonathan Edwards.!

So, all that to say this! I've been working my way through Edwards' "Religious Affections" (both the original and an abridged version!) and have also been taking the opportunity to consider the thoughts of others on Edwards' and his contributions to the topic of 'revival'. I do this because I most certainly don't want to inadvertently find myself in either ditch--apathy or cynicism. I try to approach all church and Christian living issues/matters in the same matter--which as you might imagine makes for some pretty lofty reading goals!

Here's what I recently added to my looooooooong list of reading on the topic (posted at the Ligonier blog):

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 1)

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 2) ~ The Relevance of Edward's Distinguishing Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 3) ~ Negative Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 4) ~ Positive Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 5) ~ Applications

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