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How do Great Awakenings get started?

The following article is what was cut from my introduction to The Boston Awakening magazine.

The traditional view is that Great Awakenings are sovereign moves of the Holy Spirit in specific regions at set times. First Great Awakening leaders such as Jonathan Edwards called these phenomena “surprising” and “supernatural.” They often quoted the words of Jesus regarding personal regeneration, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8).

Although leaders of the First Great Awakening, such as Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennant, did not claim to have originated the move of God known as the First Great Awakening, their names are so associated with the event that historians often imply that they were the cause of it.

In the 19th century, Christian leaders leaned away from a Calvinistic perspective and took a stronger “free will” approach claiming that under the right circumstances mass conversions could be produced by revival preaching and “new measures.” Revivalist Charles G. Finney once preached that “Revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat.” In his opinion, revival was simply the “natural” and expected outcome when the right “measures” were used. Non-religious historians and sociologists explain that Great Awakenings are the product of various convergent conditions that produce a mass religious phenomenon. Religious movements appear to occur in waves, not because of “surprising” or “supernatural” causes, but because of the cyclical flux of historical trends. If this were the case, then we ought to be able to predict when revival and spiritual awakening will occur by simply observing the trends.

Another problem is that the definition of “revival” has changed over the years. We tend to apply “revival” to individuals rather than to the Church. Individuals are not revived; they are regenerated. Being born-again is a sovereign act of God given by grace to people who were spiritually dead in their sins. A Christian who has lapsed into serious sin needs repentance.

Sometimes this is called “personal revival.” However, from a sovereign grace perspective, “regeneration” is for unconverted sinners, “repentance” is for Christians, but “revival” is for the Church. Revival is needed in the Church whenever there is a large number of unconverted church members and Christians who have fallen into habitual sin. In the 1700s, “revival” was associated with mass conversions that led to a complete transformation of society.

Toward the end of the 1800s, “revival” began to become associated with the evangelistic meetings held by men such as D.L. Moody and Billy Sunday. Some critics have pointed out that although these “revivals” have met the criteria of mass conversions and remarkable church growth, these could be considered normal activities of any generation of Christianity. Further, none of the so-called “revivals” of the late 19th and 20th centuries have affected the cultural landscape to the same degree as did the 18th century Great Awakening.

One thing is certain: if a Spiritual Awakening can be produced by human beings, no one has been able to produce one for at least 100 years. In light of this, why would a movement call itself: “The Boston Awakening”?

There are several possibilities from a biblical perspective:

1. There is nothing unusual going on in Boston.

2. The growing number of committed Christians is explainable by comparing it to the religious demographic of the rest of the country. As more students and immigrants move to Boston, they bring with them their normal spiritual experience. Boston is simply “catching up” with what is happening elsewhere.

3. The growing interest in spirituality is actually the beginning stages of an Awakening. Only time will tell if this movement will grow to the impact of the 18th century Great Awakening

4. A type of an Awakening is already here. It is the responsibility of existing Church ministers and leaders to transform the current pietistic “revival” into a Great Awakening – a cultural reformation that will impact the entire region and the world.

I believe that the fourth possibility is the current situation. There is never any shortage of opportunity. How do Great Awakenings get started? As the Apostle Paul preached, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26,27). If God chose the places and times we should live, then each one of us is responsible for recovering His testimony in our own life, church, city and generation.

Your comments are welcome!

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

$12.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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