WHAT I SAW AT THE
Last May my wife and I took our boys to Pensacola, Florida for their high school graduation from the Pensacola Christian Academy at Pensacola Christian College. The boys did their high school through the A Beka video program for home schooling.
When we got to our motel, I looked in the yellow pages at the church ads and noticed that the Brownsville Assembly of God was listed, with a meeting scheduled for that night. We decided to go and see the famous Brownsville "revival" for ourselves. Here is what we saw.
In various parts of the church's auditorium strange looking banners were erected. They looked like the icons you see in Eastern Orthodox churches. These banners had glittering tinsel hanging around the edges. As the meeting proceeded, the people gathered in groups in front of these banners. People stretched out their hands toward them. Many of the people laid on the floor facing them. As the organ and piano played, the people prayed toward these banners. One of my boys whispered to me, "Papa, it's idol worship. They're worshipping the banners as idols."
While the music continued, men in various parts of the auditorium waved colored silk flags back and forth. After an hour or so of this, the leader had the people pray for the north, then for the west, then for the south, and then for the east. A shofar (Jewish horn) was blown each time they prayed for a section of the earth, and the people all chanted, "Come forth." My son said that it was like Harry Potter, "Papa, it's magic. They're sending out incantations to the north, west, south, and east. When they say, 'Come forth,' it's magic, not prayer to God."
Finally there was a brief sermon, in which the leader said, "Praying for revival is a humbling experience, because you have to admit you don't have it - and may never have had it." I immediately thought, "Would these people put up with the preaching of George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, or R. A. Torrey, if these men were alive today?"
I should add that there were only 410 people present at the Brownsville meeting. That is an exact count, done by my boys.
I realize that not all Assembly of God people agree with what is happening in Brownsville, or in the "laughing Revival." Many of the old-line Pentecostal Holiness people do not endorse the excesses of these events. They realize that these are not true revivals. Bible-believing Baptists also know that these are counterfeits of revival.
I have been a student of revival since 1961, when I went into the Biola Bookroom at the Church of the Open Door, when J. Vernon McGee was the pastor. I picked up a little yellow Moody paperback with extracts from John Wesley's Journal,and began reading Wesley's account of the First Great Awakening. Since then I have read countless books on the subject of historical revival, including all of Leonard Ravenhill's little books, Martyn Lloyd-Jones' wonderful book, Revival, Iain H. Murray's Revival and Revivalism (most important), and dozens of others. I have also been an eye-witness to two classical revivals in Baptist churches - not evangelistic meetings, but truly astonishing revivals.
The Brownsville event is definitely not a revival - if what you mean by "revival" has anything to do with what happened in the First, Second, or Third Great Awakenings. Classical revival has always emphasized (1) conviction of sin, and (2) the conversions of those who previously thought they were saved. True revival centers around conversions, beginning with the conversion of lost church members. Never be tricked into thinking that crowds of people swaying to the sound of music, or praying toward a banner, have anything at all to do with the ministry of Edwards, Wesley, Whitefield, Nettleton, Duncan Campbell, or anyone else who ever saw the true conversions that come when God blesses the churches with a soul-saving awakening. The ideas of Charles G. Finney, so prominent today, must be rejected before that will happen. Our book, Today's Apostasy, explains this in detail. You can order it by phoning me at (818)352-0452, or send $15.00 and request it by name to P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.