What is the point of revival?



I find myself mulling over some comments made on an old post of mine from a few years ago- in which I was chewing on a particular understanding of prophecy within some of the UK church, and a prophecy spoken about ‘fires from the North’ by a woman called Jean Darnell in particular. You can read the post and the comments here. I think I have said most of what I want to say on this issue during the post and responses to comments.

In some ways it feels foolish to respond to some comments made there because people tend to bring very fixed attitudes to these debates; I do so more out of politeness and hospitality, with a dose of trepidation as I do not enjoy conflict- even of the virtual kind. All the angry shouting at one another that we do, particularly over matters of faith, seems to be such a sad waste of time. However I wrote a post that was contentious in the first place so I had it coming I suppose.

The question that I am left with is one that I also asked in the post mentioned above- what is the point of revival?

If you are not from a particular Christian tradition you may not know what I mean- it will all seem like something that belongs to an alien world (perhaps you are right.) However there have been many recorded ‘revival’ events throughout history. They are religious/social phenomena that have had lasting effects on our societies and cultures- the most recent ones in the UK were the Welsh Revival (1908), and the Hebridean Revival;

In fact, this last revival is still often held up as what we should all be earnestly seeking after and praying for. As if this was the ultimate expression of what it means to be a Christian. If we could some how have revival it will have been all worth it. We will be PROPER Christians. Our faith will be vindicated. God will truly be on our side. All the others will be wrong. All those sinners will get their come uppance. It will be great.

Given the decline of Christianity in these islands- the closure of Church after Church, the perception of Britain becoming a post-Christian society, more favourable to other faiths but happy to persecute Christians (which is nonsense of course, but a widely held belief) then it is perhaps no surprise that a remnant clings to the idea of revival as some kind of last gasp turn-around.

I find all this problematic, for many reasons. In the post mentioned earlier, I said this;

Jean Darnell was speaking out of a particular context and understanding of evangelism- which longed and hoped for REVIVAL- transformative, all encompassing Holy Spirit saturated revival. No other move of God makes sense, and as such, the prophecy comes from a wish-fulfilling impulse. Revivals like this have happened here before (Wales, Outer Hebrides for example) and continue to happen in other parts of the world (Korea, parts of Africa.) However the outcome and aftermath of these outpourings is often very mixed. I no longer think that attempting to conjour and cajole God into reviving us should be our prime focus. 


Because of the decline in church, certain embattled remnants hold on to this prophecy with both hands. We NEED it to be true- because the alternative is an end to all that is held dear. However there is such danger in this- we become people desperate for heavenly Holy Spirit intervention, and forget the call to be Agents of the Kingdom here and now, rather than in the future. 


I have lived and moved in this tradition, and know how all consuming and possibly deceiving it can be. It is a kind of wish-fulfilling, magical faith- which places incredible pressure on individual members to BELIEVE because if not then their lack of faith will prevent the things coming to pass. The legacy of the great revivals we look back to with such enthusiasm is also rather mixed- often leading to excess and in some cases absolute oppression- whilst being over and gone so quickly.


Revivals are rare events, particularly in a cynical post modern context which is rather devoid of large movements of people who are prepared to be seduced by one ideology- unless it is an anti-ideology; one that espouses the failure of the ideologies that have been. However, perhaps we are seeing a change here- things are polarising again, Extremes are becoming normalised. Racism is re invented as patriotism. Selfishness is re branded as citizenship. There will be a reaction from the left, sooner or later. The Church too will have to raise a voice…

Back to the point of this piece though- what is revival for? Neil, who commented on the Jean Darnell piece suggested it was for these things;

The point is that God is glorified by those who once vilified Him.
The point is that wretched sinners are reconciled to an angry God and become holy.
The point is that precious souls for whom Jesus died are swept into His Kingdom.
And the point of the next and probably last one, is to prepare Scotland, the UK, and the rest of the world for the return of our glorious King!


Neil does a great job here of summarising a kind of evangelical/charismatic orthodoxy around the point of revival. I find so many questions about this list however, and the underlying assumptions behind it.

Does God need revival in order to be glorified? If so, why so infrequently?

An angry God. Lord forgive me but that very phrase makes me angry. Who can say what angers God most? Jesus seemed to get the most stirred up by the religious hard assumptions thrown about by people. Then there is the whole debate around substitutionary atonement.

Saving souls. Whatever we understand that to mean. Revivals do seem to involve lots of transformation of society for the good- drugs, alcohol problems, anti social behaviour, people learning to love one another, all that sort of thing. But this is not the kind of saving souls that are being referred to here- this is all about going to heaven when you die.

The return of Jesus. We come to eschatology, and the other set of assumptions about living in ‘end times’. Revival is necessary to persuade Jesus to come again. Quite what the Biblical justification of this view might be has always been beyond me, but it is a remarkably pervasive idea.

So, here are my soft, uncertain conclusions about revivals, for what they are worth. I know many of you fervently disagree, and if you do you are welcome to your views. Some of them might even be proved correct. I am very human after all.

  • Revivals are rare events, often containing many odd, even dangerous elements. They are psycho-social events as well as religious ones.
  • The circumstances in which they take place are less about the fervency of the prayerful few, and much more to do with the nature of the society, the point of history and the receptiveness of the context that they explode within
  • The aftermath of revival is often mixed. Think of the splintering of the church in the Hebrides, with so many petty squabbles over doctrine. Think of the hard judgemental attitudes that live hand in hand with the rivival-now-gone-cold.
  • The longing for revival within the church owes much to the underlying assumptions of evangelicalism- the need to save souls, to be proved right, to be vindicated in the face of an increasingly secular society. It is a focus on the world beyond, not on the here and now.
  • I find it hard to square this kind of revival with the way of Jesus. He constantly brought people back to now- to the reality of loving actively and deliberately in the face of all sorts of negativity and outright oppression.
  • I find the idea that the LACK of revival is somehow the fault of people like me who do not have enough faith, do not pray for it enough, rather circular and ludicrous. If the point of revival is to save souls, then is God prepared to let them burn because I do not ‘get it’? Really?

One final word- I have been speaking about revival as in a kind of mass phenomenological event. There are other kinds however- quieter ones, involving transformational encounters between people and what I would suggest to be the Living God. These things are precious, private and beautiful- I know this to be true because I have seen it- not once, but many many times. This is not magic, nor the waving of some supernatural wand that makes everything better instantly, but rather it is a process of transformation nevertheless.

This kind of revival I have no hesitation in praying for. Particularly in myself.




Religion as transformative event…


My friend Pauline gave me this book recently and asked me to read it. Eckhart Tolle began his ‘spiritual journey’ after experiencing a transcendent experience; an awakening.  He thinks that this awakening is available to us all;

Christians have lauded such experiences (usually called ‘conversion’) for our whole history- from the beginning of our religion with St Paul on the Emmaus road. There was a time in my immersion in charismatic evangelicalism when people seemed to compete with one another to tell as dramatic a conversion experience as possible. Services were organised around ‘testimony’ which usually told how BAD someone used to be, until Jesus saved them and the Holy Spirit zapped them into sublime peace. I am forced to remember that the people who shared these transformations often seemed rather untransformed to me. But perhaps this is unkind- I am a work in slow progress, so who am I to criticise anyone else’s experience of faith?

Christians are often amazed to discover that these ecstatic conversion experiences– religions events- are not confined to the Christian faith.

Ekhart Tolle takes strands from all the world religions to point us towards a deeper, better life, not just for ourselves but for the planet. His language is laced with mysticism – much of what I find to be beautiful. However, I also find myself distanced from it all. I think this is because I am suspicious of quick fixes.

As a troubled child, struggling with an often abusive and emotionally deprived situation, I longed for some kind of tangibly unequivocal experience of the divine. This was less about ‘proving’ God, and more about proving me. It would mean that I was worth something, that I was somehow blessed, accepted. In my mind it also meant that the sinfulness that I knew I contained would be instantly dealt with- and I was hugely aware of how sinful and useless that I was. Ultimately I came to realise that this kind of spirituality was damaging for me- and exposed me and others to all sorts of potential abuse and manipulation.

Everyone is looking for a miracle cure. If only I take this drug, do this thing, follow this ritual, have this product, marry this girl/boy life will be OK. To be fair, Eckhart Tolle is not suggesting instant transformation for us all, but I suspect the wild popularity of his book is based on the fact that he offers a non-specific one- size-fits-all spiritual route to enlightenment within a modern consumer culture.

It feels like the difference between an Oprah Winfrey therapeutic TV event – in which we watch someone apparently deal with their past – and the reality of long term therapeutic engagement, in which two steps forward are often followed by three steps back. Over nearly half a century in and around Christians, my experience of spirituality fits far more with the latter than the former.

Having said all this, there seems no doubt that people are transformed by one off religions events. People are converted, changed, enlightened, filled with the Spirit. Some of these people are inspired to do wonderful things as the result.

Can this be replicated in the hearts of the hopeful, or are transformative events like this in themselves rare, precious? I have been in the presence of many Christian charismatic leaders that have promised ecstatic transformation to others as a matter of course. As I look back on these experiences now, then I am forced to conclude that the hundreds and thousands of people who prayed earnestly for such a transformation did not experience it, even if at times we pretended that we did. This might be about the need to conform to in group pressures, but it seems that it might also be related to a deeper yearning we have for a connection to the divine.

It is not surprising really- psychologists have been trying to understand these events for years;

Ultimately, despite the complex arguments about evolutionary group selection, religious experience is only ever fully understood from the inside. 

We of faith might also counter some of Jonathan Haidt’s points about evolutionary usefulness of cohesive religion by suggesting that we are skewed this way because we are body, mind and spirit. On other words, we all come into the world with that thing we used to call a God-shaped hole.

I have just come to value a spirituality that starts with an understanding of what is broken and what is beautiful in all of us. From there, we can start to learn again that word love, both for ourselves and more importantly, those all around us.

But let us continue to search for our staircase.

Notions of a Holy Nation…

A few days ago someone commented on a post I wrote about Jean Darnell’s ‘fires from the north’ prophecy- you can read the post and the comments here. It set me thinking about the whole charismatic thing…

The original point of my post was to record something of my internal struggle with my previous experience of all things charismatic, and my relationship to prophetic utterances like the one that Jean Darnell made about Scotland. I think my feelings can best be summed up as ‘Sceptically ambivalent, but also trying to remain respectfully open.’

I suppose my position is post charismatic. I have been around a lot of these meetings- as a young man, alienated and captivated by the wierd wonderfulness of it all in equal measure. Then later as a worship leader.

There was a lot of mad nonsense. There may even have been some of God in the mix.

Along with the pursuit of experience however there was also a lot of associated converging belief, or world view. This increasingly have been driven by American televangelists. So along with convictions about the power of healing came ideas about how certain sins might get in the way and so if you were not healed then this was some how your fault- your sin or your lack of faith.

And then there was all the spiritual warfare stuff. The temporal world- politics, disasters, HIV or almost anything else- all had a deeper subtext in the spiritual world- that required ‘discernment’ to fully understand. And a lot of this is mixed up in ideas about the ‘end times’, and the role and place of Israel.

Sometimes it seems as though these ‘discernment’ goggles  all sorts of dreadful things and terrible suffering can be overlooked, and understood only on the basis of spiritual warfare or escatological implications.

Finally, there is a triumphalism often present- God is mighty, all powerful and will come in power and judgement, and revival is always just around the corner, if only we can somehow make ourselves receptive and worthy.

Coming back to the comment made on my earlier post, some of the themes above were present in the things that were said. I do not mean to criticise or judge this perspective- it is a very familiar one to me, and contains much that still fels precious and right- but one that mostly I am no longer personally comfortable with. Particularly the world view that seems to come along with it all.

So in this case, the comment was pointing to particular issues in Scottish history-

Just yesterday, the Lord prompted me to revisit the Scottish National Covenant of 1638 (a Covenant that makes Scotland unique, as the only nation on earth, outside of Israel, to make a solemn Covenant with Almighty God)

…That was the day that Scotland married God and, although she has long since walked away from her husband, he does not forget or forsake his covenants…

…Do you suppose the fires of Revival that God himself will light in Scotland are the lamps of the Hannukah menorah? – The lights of Rededication of the Temple – A Temple which is now his holy people…

Rather against my better judgement, as I do not think that we were ever going to find common ground on this one, I replied. I suggested that I did not believe that the New Kingdom would ever have an earthy location, nor that the Jewish people would ever be replaced as a Holy Nation by the Scottish or the Americans.

And I also have a problem with any spiritual understanding that builds it’s legitimacy on the ways of the Covenanters, who were fighting and killing in the name of Jesus at a time of great political and religious upheaval. The legacy of these troubles in terms of the Catholic/Protestant divide continue to be a stain on Scottish life.

Is it admirable to die for what you believe? To resist the imposition of a book of prayer, and a way of religious observance that belonged to a distant foppish king? Possibly. But how about to kill and slaughter to prove your point? And can we overlook this, even forgive it, if it suits our particular religious agenda, or spiritual understanding?

It is not a fair question of course- the 1640’s were different times.

And such discussions are rather pointless.

Because I think my commenter would say that he and I are seeing on different dimensions- his the deeper spiritual one, mine the limited one that lacks discernment and spiritual awareness.

He may well be right.

Scotland, Prophecy and Jean Darnell…

Jean DarnallIn 1967, American evangelist Jean Darnell, whilst passing through the UK had a ‘prophetic vision’ about the future of faith in these Islands- particularly regarding Scotland. It was such a powerful image that she and her husband stayed in this country for the next 25 years.

I was born in 1967, but had heard of Jean Darnell as I grew up- she had connections to an Anglican community of people in the South of England who were greatly influential as to development of charismatic revival throughout the Anglican church. I always thought of her as a kind and wise person, steeped in the Holy Spirit.

I had not heard about the prophecy however until I moved to Scotland. Here, it is still talked about in hushed and awed tones. She has repeated and clarified her account on several occasions, and various versions can be found using a quick google search- for example this one which is on the Cross rhythms website. However, this is a summary of what she said-

Vision Of Revival In Great Britain

The British Isles were covered in mist (a green haze), and Jean Darnell saw lots of pinpoints of light piercing through. As she looked, they turned out to be fires breaking out all over the nation, from Scotland in the North, to Lands End in the South.

As these God-lit fires were joined together they burned brighter. As she continued to pray, she saw lightning and explosions of fire and then rivers of fire flowing from North to South; from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales into England and some of the streams of fires crossed the channel into Europe, whilst others stopped.

These fires were pockets of people who had been made intensely hungry for the word of God and for New Testament Christianity, those who read the book of Acts and wondered ‘where is this church?’

These people would come together to pray and extra meetings would have to be laid on to accommodate all the people. Groups would be formed, prayer groups, Bible study groups – some would meet in churches, others would be in homes: some converted, others unconverted who were searching and seeking.

Two Moves Of God

Jean Darnall asked the Lord about the vision and had the distinct impression that there would be two moves of God.

1. Renewal In The Church.

The first would be the renewal of Christian faith and fullness of the Holy Spirit within the church.

2. National Awakening And World Vision.

This renewal of life in the church would spread outside resulting in a public awakening. The second part of the vision was the lightning striking around the nation. This move of God would be a national spiritual awakening, which would move into every level of the nation’s life; on the campuses, universities, colleges, schools etc., into the media and in the government.

There would be so many conversions that it would actually change the character of the nation of Britain and determine the future move of God in Europe. Jean continued that there would not be a part of the nation’s life that will not feel the impact of the spiritual awakening when God releases it to the country.

Great Preachers

The Lord told Jean Darnall that He would also raise up highly anointed preachers who would move in signs and wonders. These people would be a gift to Britain.

Communicators Reaching Britain And Europe

The word ‘communicators’ was strongly laid upon Jean’s heart and was a word that was not trendy in those days. [The internet was not be birthed until nearly three decades later in 1994 and Christian television first came to Britain via satellite in October 1995].

Jean explained that as the rivers of fire moved, it would produce powerfully gifted communicators who would address the nation through the media, (Through the arts, journalism, the radio and television). Actors, singers, teachers and powerful communicators (who have an anointing to work through the media) will be the new warriors that the Lord is raising up for His army [the younger generation] to reach the heart of the people on the European Continent. People with a special anointing will be sent out from these islands (of Britain) to other nations.

These communicators will be excellent in all that they do and will go into Europe and meet those of like quality (in training and abilities) and together they will work to release God’s word speedily into Europe. This will result in another wave of a spiritual awakening into Europe. Also, there would be communicators in government and within the educational system and wherever people are speaking [up] for others.

Jean Darnell visited the UK again this year- here is her speaking about Scotland again-

So what are we to make of this? Some of you will not even be interested in asking the question. If you do not have a Christian faith, you may think that all this stuff is just a little mad. Many Christians will agree with you. Many others (like me) have a more complicated relationship with the ideas and hopes contained in this prophecy.

As I mentioned above, I grew up in a church greatly affected by the wonders and wackyness of the Anglican Charismatic revival. I have since spent a lot of time around charismatic churches. I have blogged before about this experience- here for example. As a result of my experiences, I remain (in the words of Pete Rollins) a devout, faithful skeptic. I have seen much that repels me, but also much that was beautiful.

So here are a few thoughts/possibilities that occur to me as I look again at this prophecy…

  1. Jean Darnell was just wrong. Nothing of what she suggests would happen has happened. They used to stone false prophets in the OT days. Far from being a conduit of a massive move of God, the church in the UK is in terminal decline…
  2. Jean Darnell was speaking encouragement into an embryonic move of God. The late 60’s and 70’s did indeed see a charismatic revival- fires did spread through the church, and the ripples go on today. There are communicators, and preachers who still connect with wider Europe…
  3. Jean Darnell was speaking out of a particular context and understanding of evangelism- which longed and hoped for REVIVAL- transformative, all encompassing Holy Spirit saturated revival. No other move of God makes sense, and as such, the prophecy comes from a wish-fulfilling impulse. Revivals like this have happened here before (Wales, Outer Hebrides for example) and continue to happen in other parts of the world (Korea, parts of Africa.) However the outcome and aftermath of these outpourings is often very mixed. I no longer think that attempting to conjour and cajole God into reviving us should be our prime focus. But then again…
  4. Scotland. The central role played by Scotland in Jean’s prophecy seems to imply that what ever is to happen, begins here. I have looked in hope, but see no sign of fires in the North. There are enclaves of fervency and fundamentalism, but there is so much sectarian division and hard heartedness too… I do not see the fires starting inside the churches at the moment, let alone outside.
  5. Because of the decline in church, certain embattled remnants hold on to this prophecy with both hands. We NEED it to be true- because the alternative is an end to all that is held dear. However there is such danger in this- we become people desperate for heavenly Holy Spirit intervention, and forget the call to be Agents of the Kingdom here and now, rather than in the future. The shift in thinking that this requires for the people of faith in Scotland might itself bring about the fires in the north envisioned!
  6. How we understand prophecy seems to be crucial. We tend to think of prophecy as a prediction for the future that will be tested by time. In this instance, the jury is out, and perhaps about to rule against Jean’s prophecy. However, there is another way to understand prophetic utterances- as something that speaks truth into NOW- so many of the OT prophets were encouraging and warning their peers and rulers. Perhaps in this context, Jean was inspiring a generation, and we should not worry about carrying forward this vision like some kind of vision for the future.
  7. Let us just leave it to God.

Why should the Devil have all the good apples?


Apparently, in the old orchards of Somerset and Devon, we are entering Wassailing season- traditionaly 12th night (5th January.)

A lovely word is wassailing- thought to be from the old Norse influenced English- meaning ‘good health’. It rolls on the tongue like scrumpy.

Which is kind of appropriate, as the most common use of the word concerns an old tradition of ceremonies of song and dance and drinking to bless the apple trees, warding off evil spirits and willing the tree to produce a crop for the coming year.

Wassailing also is a word used to describe carol singing in the streets, around new year, and also seems to have been a time when feudal masters were celebrated by their subjects, in response to their seasonal munificence.

The origins of these ceremonies have all been lost in time, but they seem to have more than a whiff of the Pagan about them. The old festivals of the passing of the winter equinox, and the hope of a coming spring. The early Church, as with other festivals, embraced it, and made it Christian. The songs of the wassailers became ones seeking the blessing of God.

So the most well known Wassailing song is this one;

Here we come a wassailing
among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering
So fair to be seen.

Love and joy come to you
and to your good Christmas too
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year
And God send you a happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars
that beg from door to door,
We are your neighbor’s children
whom you have seen before.


We have got a little purse
of stretching leather skin;
We want a little money
to line it well within.


God bless the master of this house,
likewise the mistress, too,
And all the little children
that round the table go.


So- why on earth am I going on about this, I hear you ask?

Well, I have been part of groups of charismatic Christians who have tended to understand spirituality as a warfare, first and foremost. So all things come to be measured according to what significance they might have within this unseen war.

This insight is an important one. In Pauls letter to the Ephesians, we read this famous passage-

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

An understanding flowing from these passages has led to a rejection of anything that has a hint of alternative spirituality- whether this comes from other religions, or perhaps even more so when Pagan traditions are invoked.

People seemed to express real fear that exposure to such things could in some way corrupt or damage us- we could be affected by a ‘Spirit-of….’, which could only be dealt with by those who practice deliverance ministry-releasing us from the bondage of evil influence on our lives.

This view of the world and the many things within it can lead to an intense exclusivity and isolation. Whatever the truth of the spiritual powers understood or suspected (and I should confess to a skepticism in some cases at least!) then I think it important to remember that like the festivals noted above, the early church seemed to have a very different way of working with the traditions and cultural symbols that they encountered.

Paul and the temple to the unknown God, recorded in Acts.

Peter and the Gentiles- the sheet from Heaven etc.

The establishment of early Christian shrines on pre-Christian religious sites that appears to have been common practice.

The example of the early Celtic Church and the use of pre-Christian images and symbols and practices to celebrate the new faith.

Is this corruption or syncretism? I do not think so. Accommodation with a spirituality that is damaging is indeed something that we should guard against- but boxing ourselves into fearful religious enclaves- this seems to me to be even more damaging.

We live in a post-Christian world here in the west, and increasingly, the world around us draws it’s spirituality from outside the Christian tradition. Like those early Celtic missionaries, we have no choice but to engage with this reality. The question that should concern us is how we bring Jesus with us as we move into an alien landscape. How do we live as Agents of the Kingdom in this foreign land?

So on this 12th night, let us put on the armour of the Living God and walk tall- secure in the knowledge that before Him, nothing will stand.

Why should the Devil have all the good apples?

Post charismatic Christianity?

I have just started this book, by Rob McAlpine.

I have blogged before about my own Charismatic background- here for example… So the title of this book grabbed me.

I have found myself wanting to re-examine much of my own Charismatic experience again- something I have avoided doing in any detail until recently. I suppose these experiences are full of all sorts of mixed feelings and emotions. They left me with such mixed baggage.

For me, the it began with a yearning for God in my formative years, that met the electric possibility of a God who was present and active and empowering through the Holy Spirit.

But there was always the hope for more, amid the hype and exaggeration, and the plain madness of some people and situations I found myself in. I was often an outsider- not able to experience fully what others were blown away by. And feeling attracted and repelled in equal measure.

As a worship leader, I could always hide behind a guitar… it was possible to be there, and to be seen to participate, but to only have the shape of participation, not the fullness of it.

As a young man- I thought I was alone in my doubts. I thought I lacked faith, and my sin was insulating me from God like a rubber blanket on a live cable.

There were also many times though when I caught glimpses of God. When I was as sure as I can be that he was there amongst us. There are many things that happened that I can not easily explain in any other way.

Here’s a quote from the book that captured some of my own experience;

They are tired of hearing the stories of the good old days, jaded from hearing too many prophecies about the great move of God that seems to be just around the corner, fed up with exaggerated or even fabricated stories of healings and miracles, and disillusioned with a view of spiritual formation that is lived through a weekly crisis moment at the front of the church…

Pg 17.

That is not to say that I want to reject or deny the work of the Spirit. May the Spirit have free reign to do with me as he will.

But I hope that it is possible to find my way to him, and his to me without all the baggage that has become so unhelpful to me.

And from my reading of this book so far- it seems that I am not alone.

The florida outpouring, and me…

Most Christians will have heard something of
the latest ‘revival sensation’ to hit the Christian media from
Lakeland, Florida. Led by Todd Bentley, a controversial and hard
hitting preacher, it features amazing stories of healing miracles, and
people being raised from the dead.

You might know someone who has traveled to Florida to receive
‘impartation’, in order to carry the fire back to their own church, or
have attended meetings led by the Florida leadership team in Dudley, or
most recently East Lothian. Good people- hungry for God, returning on

Or like me you might have watched the ‘God Channel’ (Not something
my stomach can usually take much of, I confess!), as they screen long
services and sermons from Florida, complete with healing testimonies.
The images polarize people, and seem to demand that we adopt a position
in relation to them.

All around me, I hear Christians asking the same questions.

What is going on here?

Is this a move of God that has major significance for our times?

Can I afford to ‘miss out’?

Is there manipulation and hype going on here?

Where are the fruits seen in lives changed?

Where is the evidence that authenticates the miraculous healings?

Are events like this a natural consequence of a marriage between Evangelicalism and the mass media?

Have we been here before? I certainly feel a sense of Déjà vu .

I grew up in a traditional Church of England church in a small
Nottinghamshire town. Our church was turned inside out and upside down
by charismatic revival in the early 1980’s. Lots of heat and smoke,
lots of speaking in tongues and prophetic utterances. Everything
changed. Many people were hurt and left the church. Many others joined.

Since then I have been in and around Charismatic Christians for most
of my life. I still count myself a skeptical (perhaps sometimes
jaundiced) charismatic. I have seen wonderful things, but I have also
seen some absolute nonsense. I have felt compelled to seek after God as
revealed in Charismata, but repelled by the excesses of this in equal

So- I think back to the gentle beauty I saw in Spirit-filled
intellectuals like David Watson, to the dogmatic arrogant power used by
Colin Urqhuart, the other worldly soft-rock polish of Wimber and the
embryonic Vineyard movement, the shouting-laughing-gold teeth imparting
madness of the ‘Toronto blessing’, and so on…

Can I say that I found God in this journey? Yes.

Do I think that there was much that was oppressive, manipulative,
self-centred and just downright WEIRD in this journey? Absolutely!

I bear the scars. Growing up as a tortured adolescent, and adding
the need to validate your life and faith through the acquisition of the
gift of tongues, this will always leave some strange marks on your
psyche! But God seems to be prepared to commune with some strange folk.
He is amazingly tolerant I find…

So, back to Todd Bentley. Hero of the faith, or charlatan? You decide!

As for me, I don’t care that much any more. I am old enough to know
that chasing after God by attending large meetings where others say he
is to be found is not for me. If however God is in this, great.

I will stick to seeking God along with my community, in my town. If
He wants to zap us with a bit of Holy Spirit fire, I am up for it

I read Jason Clark’s blog on this issue recently, and found myself to be more or less in agreement of everything he says…


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