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I have a lot of questions.
And as the alleged revival at Asbury University winds down this week, I think we’d do well to ask them, and I have some I haven’t seen anyone ask.
One of the issues I already know I’ll run into with some readers is the assumption that everything that has happened at Asbury is fantastic, and I’ll be burned at the stake for my myriad heresies, including believing that God’s Not Dead is a bad movie and that Tim Tebow was an objectively bad NFL quarterback. If you’re making that assumption and feel a knee jerk reaction coming on, stick with me.
Credit where it’s due
I don’t doubt that most participants in Asbury have been genuine, but genuine does not equate to authentic. However, the university must be lauded for their efforts. They’ve turned down professional worship bands in favor of their own students, and they’ve told Todd Bentley that he can’t speak, and they’ve stopped flag wavers from doing their thing. These are all good things, but they also have a previously scheduled prayer event on the books in conjunction with heretical groups like The Call and Jesus Culture, and they’ve allowed Trinity deniers to use the same chapel where this revival has taken place. Their discernment skills are a decidedly mixed bag.
They’ve also decided that this shindig should be for college age people and younger – it is a university campus, after all – and that this thing couldn’t go on forever. Bravo to that.
And now, as opposed to my normally analytical and sarcastic take on things, I’m just going to rattle off some questions. Some are pointed, of course, but they are all honest, and then we’ll be done. I honestly believe thinking through these will be beneficial for the Church, regardless of where one falls on the spectrum of support or disavowal of Asbury.
What do we do with the fact that revivals were basically not a thing in church history until the Great Awakening in the 1730s?
Why have the claimed revivals of the last 300 years been largely in the Western world?
Where is the fruit of those claimed revivals?
Who or what is being brought back from the dead during a revival?
Is the excitement held by many about Asbury necessarily a good thing?
What does it mean that the sermon that led to this alleged revival mentioned tacos more than grace, the cross, salvation, repentance, and sin combined?
Is the spread of extended worship services actually the work of God or emotionalism?
Does John 4:21 have any application to those who traveled across the country to attend? For reference:
The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
Or Luke 17:20-21?
The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
Have young people responded in this way because they’ve been starved for robust, scriptural teaching in their youth groups and churches?
Do American Christians flock to the next big thing because they’ve been taught that the ordinary means of grace are only symbolic and don’t really do anything?
Is it possible for a “move of God” to be him sending deceiving spirits in order to test those who have taken his name for themselves and to harden those who aren’t his sheep?
Could it be that if we trusted that God’s Word doesn’t return void, were faithful in church attendance, and discipled our families and church members, that we wouldn’t need revival?
How is God going to use the events of Asbury, whether they were a net positive or net negative, for his glory and his people’s joy in him?