Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Revival Conference Georgia, Oct 21-23 2008

This time last year I was over in Canton, Ohio at the Revival Conference inaugurated by Greg Gordon. It was a wonderful experience, not least because of the opportunity of meeting up with folks with whom I had only fellowshipped in Cyberland. The Revival Conference grew out of Greg Gordon's prayer for a heavenly visitation of God's holy love. Some folks I have known and chatted with for over 4 years but only saw them 'face to face' at Canton. It was a wonderful time and I was the receiver of some wonder American Christian hospitality. Several churches opened the pulpits and their hearts to me and I hold very sweet memories of the time.

I couldn't help but notice that we had almost as many definitions of revival as we had speakers and this continues to exercise my own heart. If there is a link between faith and expectation, as I am sure their is, just what kind of 'revival' are we expecting. The charismatic/pentecostal expectation of revival may well be very different from the second blessing holiness or classical Calvinist. Understanding our expectations is important as the difference between expectation and realization is usually what we might call 'disappointment' or at best 'perplexity'.

I sometimes say that I believe in 'revival' and pray for 'revival' but I have no theology of revival. What I mean by this is that there is nothing in the record of the New Testament which matches the great revivals of 1859 or the Welsh Revival of the early 1900's. Those were sovereign movements of God among Christians of different backgrounds but probably of a similar expectation. These 'classical' revivals have always been marked by a deep sense of God's presence and holiness and an accompanying sense of unworthiness and desperate need on the part of those who prayed. That said, the details of those times were sometimes marked by earnest prayer, or singing or convicting preaching; there is no one pattern. The one thing they do have in common is that there is no equivalent in the records of the New Testament.

Consequently most preaching 'for revival' finds its foundation in the Old Testament and particularly during the period of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. This was a period of some about 500 years and it marked by the presence of the 'prophets' Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the like. They brought strong denunciations against the kings and priests of the day and called the people back to the heart conditions demanded at Sinai. The people for their part tended to depend upon the settled institutions of kings and priests and had to be made to see that 'blessing' and the conscious presence of God was not an automatic right of the covenant people. How do we understand the place of the New Covenant people in the light of these things and what do we expect God to do in answer to our prayers.

This year's Revival Conference in being held in Georgia in the USA and is live to anyone who is willing to tune in to the live 'stream' that are available. You will find that live 'feed' at Revival Conference, Georgia USA 21-23 October 2008. If you are able take some time to tune in and perhaps we can talk about it on the Discussion Forum? Can we take promises given to a Covenant Nation State and apply them to modern Nation States or to Christendom as we find it in the 21st century?

1 comment:

KingJimmy said...

Indeed, I have also of late become troubled by the thoughts of what exactly one is looking for in a "revival." There are many great statements about revival from Jonathan Edwards all the way to Leonard Ravenhill. But I can't help but notice most of the definitions given have a "fuzzy" feeling about them.

Perhaps the thing that troubles me the most about it all is the way many revivalists such as Ravenhill "preached about revival." Like you, I wonder, what is the underlying theology behind it all? What is the Biblical basis for most of what is said about "revival?" There does seem to be different expectations amongst those seeking for a "revival." Exactly what one is aiming at when praying for "revival" seems to be conditioned upon the cultural expectations of whatever Christian tradition you come from. Still though, fuzzy.

Earlier this year I took up some thoughts which can be read in full at an article I wrote on my blogRevival... A Revival of What? In the blog, I basically argue that if we are to seek for a revival of anything, it is to be a revival of "apostolic Christianity". And by apostolic Christianity, I mean a Christianity that stands in continuum with the practices and quality of Christian life as established by the first apostles. It's a revival of apostolic faith, apostolic practice, and apostolic life. If there is to be any goal towards revival, I believe that must be where we aim the cross-hairs. And unless such a thing occurs, however great a blessing we might receive from a meeting or series of meetings, such should not be confused with a "revival" of this kind.