Monday, 5 March 2012

Towards Another Great Awakening: the Great Inhibitor

Fear is a great inhibitor of revival, or any kind of spiritual growth. Fear blocks revival in two forms, first, in what we might call evangelicaphobia. Sadly, many mainliners view evangelicals with great distrust (and vice versa). They associate evangelicalism and revivals with judgemental fundamentalism and so don't want to have anything to do with it.

Secondly, many Christians, both mainline and evangelical, are afraid of the weird manifestations and behaviour that are sometimes associated with revivals. Events during the last decade at the Toronto Airport Vineyard were often viewed in this way.

However, the fact is such "excesses" were the exception rather than the rule in past Awakenings and mainline denominations were involved and renewed. For example,
The 1858 Awakening was received with enthusiasm by the secular press, which testified assuredly of all the changes wrought for good in every place. With few exceptions, such as doctrinaire opponents of evangelical religion, the 1858 Awakening was supported by all Protestant denominations, including formalist Episcopalians and Lutherans as well as informal Methodists and Baptists. The movement was so singularly free of sectarian spirit; its primary emphasis on prayer was matched by its augmented preaching of the Word. The meetings were commended for their quietness and restraint, and won respect of citizens in every place. (J Edwin Orr, The Restudy of Revival and Revivalism, 1981, p. 27)
In one of his talks, Orr describes how although he could be only be in full Unity with those with which he was in full doctrinal agreement, he was free Co-operate and work with those with whom he had substantial agreement, have meaningful Fellowship with those with whom he some agreement and have Dialogue with everyone else.

A common denominator in the beginnings of revival is repentance. I believe, before another Great Awakening can take place, we all need to repent of any sense of superiority, judgement, disapproval, distrust, bad-mouthing and resentment directed at our sisters and brothers in the other branches of the LORD's Body.