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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Trouble at Cwmbran / Richard Taylor
SvitlanaV2
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Well, if the ex-members of defunct churches are likely to end up joining neighbouring congregations, you could say that's amalgamation by default! And far less fiddly than trying to merge several different forms of church structure, theology and traditions.

Speaking personally, I prefer to see a genuine diversity of churches that work together as and when appropriate rather than replacing individual churches with a one-size-fits-all, lowest common denominator 'superchurch'. But ten fairly similar congregations each struggling to maintain an expensive building and to honour a particular legacy isn't true diversity. There needs to be more creativity than that.

As for Wales, when I lived there I was surprised at how many abandoned churches I saw. I understand that some commentators see the rapid decline of Welsh chapelgoing as the aftereffect of a sort of over-triumphant revivalism, so I can understand why people here would disapprove of it. Here in the urban West Midlands surplus churches have mostly been demolished, or else converted into mosques or other things, so I suppose the retreat of churchgoing isn't such an obvious and accusatory mark on the landscape. It's not quite so easy to blame arrogant revivalists for the failure of congregations whose buildings have long gone, or whose original members and their descendants have long since left the area.

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:


As for Wales, when I lived there I was surprised at how many abandoned churches I saw. I understand that some commentators see the rapid decline of Welsh chapelgoing as the aftereffect of a sort of over-triumphant revivalism, so I can understand why people here would disapprove of it.

In addition to outright abandoned churches there are a lot of small churches. The joke round Newport is that there are more churches than Christians and while not literally true, that's a handy warning to the way things could go, if they aren't headed that way already.

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Gamaliel
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I don't think it's a peculiarly South Walian feature in itself, SvitlanaV2. West Yorkshire is full of gigantic chapels that are now empty or else turned into warehouses etc. Many of them were built deliberately bigger than was required because the congregations and sponsors were either anticipating revival or else trying to out-do the other chapel down the road.

Competition between the various non-conformist denominations was intense.

What I think is particularly distinctive in the South Walian instance, though, is the mindset among many that revival will happen again and you need to have all the chapels open in order to contain the increase when it comes ...

The Colne Valley near Huddersfield - the closest thing to a South Wales Valley I've seen in England (other than the architecture) was affected by the Welsh Revival and had a smaller scale 'outbreak' itself in 1905.

Yet I never heard anyone up there from the traditional nonconformists banging on and on and on about revival in quite the same way ...

The Restorationist house-churches were certainly caught up in revivalism though and there was a lot of over-optimistic revival talk in the 1980s and 90s. It seemed to fizzle out a bit after the Toronto thing failed to deliver the expected revival.

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Gamaliel
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The Trellwyn Methodists have built a church,
Its front looks like an abbey,
But thinking they can fool the Lord,
They've left the back part shabby.

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Oh yes indeed, Jengie Jon, which is why some of the Orthodox I've met blame the Reformation for atheism ... they feel that secularism is simply the Reformation ethos pushed through the Enlightenment to its logical secularist conclusion ...

I was at the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius conference this week and Wales came up in the conversation, with several of the Orthodox blaming Calvinism and post-Calvinism for the secularisation of the Principality ...

Meanwhile, in response to ExclamationMark, yes, I think there were plenty of socio-economic and cultural influences on the Welsh Revival but I would be as wary of taking an overly reductionist approach in that direction as I would in seeing the whole thing as a 'sovereign move of Almighty God' which was how it was always framed in the Valleys when I was growing up.

As Below The Lansker points out, this notion of 'fires of revival igniting once again' is part of the psyche down there - even in quite dry and undemonstrative chapels.

Of course, these 'fires of revival' are always seen as most likely to happen in one's own backyard rather than anyone else's.

There were a number of churches around Cwmbran that claimed to be the real 'source' of the so-called 'outpouring'.

It was an outpouring alright, an outpouring of wishful thinking ...

The exact opposite can be argued and that is the disconnect from Christianity was already happening by the time of the Reformation and what it actually did was by adopting a "rational" approach was link it in a way that made it relevant to people of that time. It took it out of the hands of the cleric and made it something a person could take. The "rationalism" and "individualism" leading to atheism are unintended consequences of this.

Certainly if we were waiting for the Orthodox to evangelise following a failure of the western church, I doubt that faith would have got here yet.

Jengie

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Gamaliel
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Well, they are here now. They took their time about it, though, as they do with everything else ...

[Biased]

Sure, I agree with the thing about 'rationalism' an 'atheism' being unintended consequences of the Reformation. I think most of the Orthodox would agree on that too - other than those who simply use it as another stick to beat the 'dissident West' about the head ...

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by sidefall:
I think revivalist christianity is totally discredited. I would just ignore it and focus, as you say, on the day-to-day business of faith.


Oooh, be careful - very careful. You need to be accurate with your terms. You may well be correct to talk about 'charismatic' christianity but to be historically accurate, 'revivalist' Christianity was never usually pentecostal nor charismatic in character or theology. There may have been 'enthusiastic' occurrences but the historic revivals - e.g. 1859, 1904 and 1949 were usually evangelical, often reformed, sometimes Arminian but almost always within the existing historic churches, always featured a return to the preaching of the word, to a revival of prayer and hymn singing, a marked phenomenon of repentance and 'pledge signing' and very very VERY rarely accompanied by any kinds of 'signs and wonders'. And they were always accompanied by numbers of people returning to the church or becoming Christians for the first time - a phenomenon you just do not see at the charismatic circuses.

So please use the latter term but don't lump the evangelical revivalism of the last couple of centuries with the phony stuff you quite rightly hold up to scrutiny.

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:


As for Wales, when I lived there I was surprised at how many abandoned churches I saw. I understand that some commentators see the rapid decline of Welsh chapelgoing as the aftereffect of a sort of over-triumphant revivalism, so I can understand why people here would disapprove of it.

In addition to outright abandoned churches there are a lot of small churches. The joke round Newport is that there are more churches than Christians and while not literally true, that's a handy warning to the way things could go, if they aren't headed that way already.
I think one needs to factor in that the welsh revival of 1904 filled a lot of little churches - one on every street it seems - but was followed 10 years later by the great war. One wonders how many of these little churches' congregations were decimated by the loss of a lot of their menfolk.

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Mudfrog
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In fact, couple with this mid 19th century to edwardian revivalism is the prevailing evangelical eschatology which, mirroring colonial Britain's mindset, was firmly post-millennial: we're going to win the world for Jesus and present a converted world to him when he returns.

The Salvation Army was part of that thinking and we were convinced that we would almost single-handedly save the world! The spectacular international growth of the 1880s and 1890s was almost the only evidence we needed that within a generation the entire Globe would be converted! The Salvation Army in Newcastle built a Temple in 1890 that was designed to seat 3000 people - and in that year it did! But it seems that the edwardian years and then the cataclysms of 2 world wars, a depression and the frivolity and political turmoil of the 1920s put paid to any post-millennial dream and turned evangelicals into the pre-millennialists that most of us are now.

Personally I don't even see Scriptural warrant for any kind of revival before the second coming - but that's another thread...

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Green Mario
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Mudfrog - are you honestly saying that charismatic Christianity is totally discredited or an I miusunderstanding you. That seems an extraordinay strong statement to make and - one that would require very careful framing if you are not intending to write off a huge proportion of Christians in this country and world wide.
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Gamaliel
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The First World War was certainly a factor - some 35,000 Welsh men died ... which in terms of a proportion of the population was similar to the proportions in England (515,000), Scotland (74,000) and Ireland (51,000).

However, we aren't talking about an entire generation being wiped out - far from it.

The social upheaval of the War probably had more impact on the churches and chapels than the number of casualties.

The growth of public transport in the 1920s offered opportunities beyond chapel attendance. I once read a detailed study of religion in Huddersfield - not in Wales obviously but a similar industrial community. The 1920s saw a marked falling off in church and chapel attendance with the arrival of buses, cinema and alternatives to the chapel, Band of Hope and church/chapel sports or social club type activities.

Also, there's only so long people can stand in chapel singing hymns in four-part harmony.

A lot of the 'energy' harnessed by the revival of 1904/05 was later directed into the Eisteddfodau and Welsh Nationalism or Labour Party politics.

Man cannot live on pietism alone.

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Gamaliel
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Mudfrog is right, 19th century revivalism wasn't generally marked by 'signs and wonders' and charismatic manifestations ... although the Mormons went in for all that stuff and were initially a 'revivalist' movement themselves ...

There were certainly groups like the Irvingites - the Catholic Apostolic Church which went in for tongues and prophecy and so on but they weren't 'revivalist' in flavour.

On the whole, as Mudfrog says, 19th century revivalism tended to be marked by conversionism and signing pledges and so on.

I wouldn't agree with him that most evangelicals these days are pre-millenialists. I very rarely meet any pre-millenialists in real life these days. In fact, Mudfrog, here on line, is probably the only pre-millenialist I've 'spoken' to for quite some time.

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Gamaliel
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Most of the reformed flavoured evangelicals are amillenialists and the restorationist 'new church' types tended to be amillenialist with some post-millenialist overtones. Some were full on posties but not many.

Mind you, the kind of revivalism that Mudfrog is decrying here is simply his own kind with knobs on.

There wasn't a great deal of 'pentecostal' activity during the Welsh Revival itself but some of those who saw themselves as perpetuating or carry forward the power and unction of the revival became Pentecostal. The Apostolic Church was (and still is) a Pentecostal denomination that was founded in 1908 by some fervent revivalists.

The Pentecostal and charismatic revivalism we are familiar with today emanated from the kind of Edwardian revivalism that Mudfrog has described ... it simply took things in a more extreme direction.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I think one needs to factor in that the welsh
revival of 1904 filled a lot of little churches - one on every street it seems - but was followed 10 years later by the great war. One wonders how many of these little churches' congregations were decimated by the loss of a lot of their menfolk.

That's a good point. Did Wales suffer disproportionately in the Great War?


Gamaliel

Regarding the Welsh penchant for clinging on to church buildings, I wonder whether pressures on land and property influenced whether or not struggling congregations were willing to sell up. In the West Midlands it seems that you can always get a good price for your church building (or for the land), so why would you wait around for a revival?? Meanwhile, empty churches in South Wales aren't being snapped up so quickly, so perhaps there's less of an inclination for congregations to sell.

I'm a bit surprised that Welsh revivalists don't see revival happening anywhere other than in a church building, though. Again, non-theological circumstances come into play; when I think of 'revival' I often think of outdoor meetings. But with Wales being as wet as it is, maybe that sort of thing never caught on!

As for West Yorkshire, I know a preacher who grew up at one of those vast Methodist churches there. He says that when it had to close the relatively large congregation refused to re-locate, because their identity was bound up with being part of that prestigious, iconic building. Sad really, but inevitable.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
As Below The Lansker points out, this notion of 'fires of revival igniting once again' is part of the psyche down there - even in quite dry and undemonstrative chapels.

Allegedly heard in prayer: "Oh Lord, if there be any spark of revival, any tiny flame ... Lord, water it". [Devil]
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Gamaliel
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No, Wales didn't suffer disproportionately in the Great War. The proportion of men killed was very similar to the proportions in the other Home Nations.

I don't know whether there were any economic differences between South Wales and the West Midlands when it came to disposing of church properties.

There were open air meetings in the Welsh Revival. There were open air meetings in early Methodism too, but the numbers participating were often exaggerated.

Open air meetings aren't necessarily the distinguishing feature of a revival. I once heard a scholarly paper delivered on a revival in North East Scotland in Victorian times. The features varied according to the social conditions.

In Aberdeen and other urban centres it had more of a Moody & Sankey, mass rally type of feel.

In the fishing villages along the coast it had an entirely different flavour again.

In the agricultural hinterland the features varied yet again and the various phases tended to follow the pattern of the agricultural year.

We can't - as so many revival mythologists do - divorce these things from the prevailing social conditions at the time.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Most of the reformed flavoured evangelicals are amillenialists and the restorationist 'new church' types tended to be amillenialist with some post-millenialist overtones. Some were full on posties but not many.

I think most evangelicals (in the UK) are not consciously anything on the issue - if they are anything, they usually have a mild reaction against the pre-millenialism as portrayed in the Left Behind books.

I still meet plenty of people - especially older or pentecostal types - who are pre-mil though.

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SvitlanaV2
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Gamaliel

I wasn't really trying to present the 'defining features' of revivalism!! I was simply wondering why these revivalists need to cling to their buildings so desperately.
[Smile]

What do you think today's misguided Welsh revivalists should do? How best should they approach the future since, as you think, future revivals are highly unlikely?

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The social upheaval of the War probably had more impact on the churches and chapels than the number of casualties.

True. The rise of spiritism can be charted to the post WWI desire to understand "what had happened" to the loved ones who were killed or missing.

The church failed to respond to ordinary people's needs and, as a result, people disengaged. No small element of this was the realisation that the church took an unhealthy position in firstly promoting the war and secondly in supporting a class bound society that was no longer really tenable.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
As for West Yorkshire, I know a preacher who grew up at one of those vast Methodist churches there. He says that when it had to close the relatively large congregation refused to re-locate, because their identity was bound up with being part of that prestigious, iconic building. Sad really, but inevitable.

Inevitable if the identity of a church / congregation is so strongly tied up in the building they happen to use for their meetings...

Church that grows where people already gather (e.g. homes, cafes, workplaces, social clubs) is clearly the way forward!

*Dismounts hobby horse*

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My blog - wondering about Christianity in the 21st century, chess, music, politics and other bits and bobs.

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Below the Lansker
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
In the West Midlands it seems that you can always get a good price for your church building (or for the land), so why would you wait around for a revival?? Meanwhile, empty churches in South Wales aren't being snapped up so quickly, so perhaps there's less of an inclination for congregations to sell.

One aspect to bear in mind is the sheer number of buildings. A Welsh town of around 10,000 (with regional variations) may well have had 3 or 4 chapels each of the 'big three' (Congregational/Independent, Baptist, and Calvinistic Methodist), plus Wesleyan or Primitive Methodist (if there was a significant English-speaking population), many of them seating anything between 350 to 1200. 1904 also produced many independent Gospel Halls or Gospel Missions for those who felt that the historic denominations were too staid. Depending on the area in question, many of these chapels come onto the market at the same time, as the last stalwarts succumb to age and weariness. Nowadays, because there is greater awareness of the social and cultural importance of chapel life in Wales (even if the buildings may not be architecturally interesting), local councils are trying to ensure that their place in the landscape is protected. Even if you buy one and want to change its use or transform it into flats, they won't let you do much to the outside - they aren't really an attractive option for developers.
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Gamaliel
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Well, the early Christians in Jerusalem initially gathered where people were already gathering ... in the Temple Courts and so on.

Gradually, though, they started meeting in homes and then acquired their own buildings.

The same thing would happen if we all abandoned our buildings tomorrow and started meeting in Starbucks or in shopping malls or the local pub.

Sooner or later we'd start meeting in homes and gradually renting halls or acquiring property again.

I don't see how people meeting at Starbucks is any more sustainable than the current state of play. Buildings are certainly an issue. Not all church buildings can be maintained.

There are some examples of creative use of worship facilities for shared purposes in the community - and I'd like to see more of that.

People's identities do become bound up with particular places and things, that's part of human nature.

Coming back to the revivalist thing. I think it's only a particular type of nostalgic revivalist that likes to cling onto the notion of particular buildings being filled once more with crowds singing Welsh hymns in four-part harmony.

Other, more contemporary (but equally misguided [Razz] ) revivalists fondly imagine that if we abandon buildings, plant and formal associations and start hanging about down at Starbucks then we'll see revival that way.

As for what revivalists should do ... well, it ain't for me to say, but if it was, I'd suggest that they stop banging on and on about revival and simply try to be as human as they can be ...

I'm reminded of something the late Metropolitan Anthony said to his congregation in London, that they should stop trying so hard to be Orthodox and try harder to be human ...

[Biased]

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Oscar the Grouch

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I don't think it's a peculiarly South Walian feature in itself, SvitlanaV2. West Yorkshire is full of gigantic chapels that are now empty or else turned into warehouses etc. Many of them were built deliberately bigger than was required because the congregations and sponsors were either anticipating revival or else trying to out-do the other chapel down the road.

Competition between the various non-conformist denominations was intense.

Not disagreeing with you, Gam. But it should be pointed out that such competition was also found in Anglican churches in West Yorkshire. Mill owners took to building churches bigger and taller than their rivals. Halifax (of which I know quite a lot) was especially affected in this way. Dear old "Colonel" Edward Akroyd splashed out a significant amount of his wealth on over large, expensive Anglican churches. Ever visited All Souls, Haley Hill? It's worth going inside, if you can, to catch a glimpse of what an amazing place it was when it was first built. Now just an empty, decaying shell.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Gamaliel
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Oh yes indeed, Oscar - it certainly wasn't a purely nonconformist thing. I lived in West Yorkshire for 20 odd years so can picture the places you're talking about in Halifax.

We could start a separate thread about meeting in Starbucks, pubs, social clubs, shopping malls etc etc ... that could be quite interesting.

In principle, I don't have an issue with low-key ideas of church in that sense - but I do wonder how a sense of the numinous and the 'holy' could be maintained in such settings. All you'd end up with is some kind of fellowship/discussion group that might have some value - rather like the online discussions that go on here - but I'm not sure how you could maintain a more sacramental approach in settings like that - although that has been done in prison camps and so on.

But then, that aspect wouldn't be important to people who think that hanging out in Starbucks is the way forward.

I think it is possible to maintain some form of church life without a great deal of plant and paraphernalia ... but I think there is a limit to what 'cafe' style church can achieve.

But that's probably a tangent.

But there are certainly issues about cracking on with buildings and plant regardless of the circumstances.

There's an art gallery in Newport, South Wales, which is based in a rather strange but impressive old church building that was built by a particular family and which never really functioned properly as a church community.

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Curiosity killed ...

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I'm deeply cynical about meetings in pubs and Starbucks having seen a couple of these initiatives in action

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Oscar the Grouch

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
We could start a separate thread about meeting in Starbucks, pubs, social clubs, shopping malls etc etc ... that could be quite interesting.

I agree.

I have found that all the churches I knew which started out by meeting in homes or clubs etc have, pretty much as soon as they could, bought or built their own place.

In fact, I am really struggling to think of a single example of a successful new church that has remained faithful to the "no building" ideal.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

Posts: 3871 | From: Gamma Quadrant, just to the left of Galifrey | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
EtymologicalEvangelical
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Hmmm...

It's funny how much of the Church (especially in evangelical circles) bangs on about the fact that we are all sinners, and then when someone actually sins it's: "oh dear, how could this have happened?"

Which is worse: a Christian who gives in to his natural, though misguided, desires or those who obnoxiously gloat over the moral failures of others (you know, the smug "I told you so" brigade)?

There are times when I'm inclined to answer: the latter.

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
Which is worse: a Christian who gives in to his natural, though misguided, desires or those who obnoxiously gloat over the moral failures of others (you know, the smug "I told you so" brigade)?

There are times when I'm inclined to answer: the latter.

I think that worse than either are those who try to position themselves in moral high ground above the fray altogether.

The tone of the blog has been criticised right from the OP; my own take on it is here. But the poor handling of the allegations does not excuse the original wrongdoing (sorry, "giving in to natural, though misguided, desires" [Roll Eyes] ) if it did indeed occur.

Victory Church has been making extraordinary claims as being host to an extraordinary move of God. I have consistently argued that this makes it (and particularly its leadership) more accountable to the general public, not less. Instead they are apparently still trying to bury this, just like they did the plagiarism on RT's blog, of which there was ample evidence.

If churches took the injunction to ensure that their leaders were "above reproach" more seriously, and acted compassionately, honestly and transparently when their leaders fail, there would be a lot less room for the self-righteous pundits.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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EtymologicalEvangelical
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus
I think that worse than either are those who try to position themselves in moral high ground above the fray altogether.

What, like Jesus, who did not identify with either the adultery of the woman caught in the act or the self-righteousness of the stone throwers?

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

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Eutychus
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Jesus had the advantage of being without sin.

He did tell the adulterous woman to "go and sin no more".

He didn't attempt to excuse the adulterous pair by saying they were simply "giving in to natural desires" (or indeed seek to exonerate the would-be stoners on the same grounds).

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" does not equate to "let's never call people in positions of christian responsibility to account".

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Mudfrog
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# 8116

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quote:
Originally posted by Green Mario:
Mudfrog - are you honestly saying that charismatic Christianity is totally discredited or an I miusunderstanding you. That seems an extraordinay strong statement to make and - one that would require very careful framing if you are not intending to write off a huge proportion of Christians in this country and world wide.

No, of course not; I'm just reflecting the concern about the excesses of such things. I saw some of it during the 1993 Toronto Blessing in a local 'Kings Church' - the gold dust stuff and oil appearing on people's palms, etc. There were never any reports of conversions, just people travelling from miles around to watch people laugh a lot.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
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Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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I was involved with the Toronto thing when it 'broke' and despite initial scepticism threw myself into it wholeheartedly. This didn't last long as I quickly realised how easy it was to achieve the expected and desired 'effects' given the right atmosphere, cues and people's suggestibility.

I was newly married at the time and my wife was never caught up in it at all. I quickly realised that this wasn't because there was anything 'wrong' with her - although people said there was - but because she was a lot more grounded and less susceptible than some of the people who went forward again and again and again ...

I can report that there were some conversions during that time - but they didn't 'stick' as it were ... the last thing we need to be offering new converts is a spiritually volatile atmosphere with hype and little substance.

There's an excellent quote from Watchman Nee about a time of 'outpouring' in Shanghai in the 1930s - all manner of exciting things going on in meetings, some claims of healing etc etc ... Nee wrote that at the end of it not much ground appeared to have been gained and if anything, ground had been lost.

That quote ought to be printed out and framed in the offices of all the pastors and church leaders who go in for this sort of thing.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15997 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
EtymologicalEvangelical
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# 15091

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus
Jesus had the advantage of being without sin.

Exactly. So if the only person who has ever had the right to be self-righteous refused to be so, then so much more should we avoid self-righteousness.

quote:
He did tell the adulterous woman to "go and sin no more".
But I am not condoning Richard Taylor's unspecified alleged sin. I am simply pointing out the immorality of the smug vindictiveness of those who are childishly and gleefully gloating over his difficulties.

quote:
He didn't attempt to excuse the adulterous pair by saying they were simply "giving in to natural desires" (or indeed seek to exonerate the would-be stoners on the same grounds).
And neither would I. If you think that I am excusing such behaviour, then please quote anything I wrote to justify that conclusion.

quote:
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" does not equate to "let's never call people in positions of christian responsibility to account".
Nowhere did I say or even imply that we should never call people in positions of Christian responsibility to account. In fact, I am calling such people to account, because I am speaking against spiritual pride: a conceit which, in this case, is manifested in self-righteousness.

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

Posts: 3625 | From: South Coast of England | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
There's an excellent quote from Watchman Nee about a time of 'outpouring' in Shanghai in the 1930s - all manner of exciting things going on in meetings, some claims of healing etc etc ... Nee wrote that at the end of it not much ground appeared to have been gained and if anything, ground had been lost.

That quote ought to be printed out and framed in the offices of all the pastors and church leaders who go in for this sort of thing.

As one who's clashed with you at times on this sort of thing, I'd like to say a resounding 'hear hear' to this.

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My blog - wondering about Christianity in the 21st century, chess, music, politics and other bits and bobs.

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EtymologicalEvangelical
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# 15091

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel
There's an excellent quote from Watchman Nee about a time of 'outpouring' in Shanghai in the 1930s - all manner of exciting things going on in meetings, some claims of healing etc etc ... Nee wrote that at the end of it not much ground appeared to have been gained and if anything, ground had been lost.

Far be it from me to criticise Watchman Nee, because his writings (especially The Normal Christian Life) have been of benefit to me personally, and in general terms I agree with the above comment. But what I wonder is: how do we define "ground" in this instance? What are the criteria for judging success in this context? Conversions? Obvious physical healings? Obvious moral fruit?

The wind blows where it wishes, as Jesus said, and we often don't know how the work of the Holy Spirit specifically impacts people's lives. Of course, there is the counterfeit, and I am sceptical of the TB, but it doesn't follow that lack of conversions means that nothing is happening in people's lives. If a work of God is genuine, then something is happening, even if it is not obvious.

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

Posts: 3625 | From: South Coast of England | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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We are not discussing a 'work of God' (which is always welcome, if genuine), we are discussing revival. Revival always includes a renewal of the spiritual life of the church and conversions.

The fruit that we are called to bear is not just moral fruit (of the Spirit) but numerical fruit. The past revivals have always seen penitents finding Christ and numerous lasting conversions being recorded.

There is no point whatever in any so-called outpouring of the Spirit if conversions are not seen and disciples are not made. The book of acts is the pattern here. The preaching of the word in a revival situation will always result in numerical growth - it's why Luke bothered to record the numbers (if anyone is ever tempted to say 'It's not about numbers/bums on seats.' It actually is!)

[ 17. August 2014, 10:36: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
EtymologicalEvangelical
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# 15091

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog
We are not discussing a 'work of god' we are discussing revival.

That distinction is completely incomprehensible to me (assuming by 'god' you mean 'God').

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

Posts: 3625 | From: South Coast of England | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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If we have clashed, South Coast Kevin, I'd like to think that it has been a creative friction rather than a negative one.

[Votive]

@EE - yes, I agree that there is censoriousness and self-righteousness involved in some of the somewhat unpleasant online gloating that it is going on in regard to events at Victory Church. There's also a degree of spiritual pride involved too ... 'We're where the real move of God is taking place ...'

I grew up in Cwmbran and although I haven't spent a great deal of time there in recent years - other than to visit relatives - I recognise that tendency in some of the churches down there, I'm afraid. Mind you, no church is immune from this sort of thing.

But Eutychus is also right - there should be a calling to account. Both are you are right ... it's a both/and thing.

I'm also with Mudfrog on the 'revival' thing. The term can be understood differently but in its classic sense, the way he has framed it fits with the missiological definition.

As far as the TB goes, yes, I'm sure there were people who benefited from it and who continue to look back on it as a significant time. I know people who do and I wouldn't want to take that from them.

But it certainly wasn't a revival in the definitive sense of the term.

It was a significant time for me, too ... it was a significant time in terms of realising that 'revivalism' wasn't where it was at.

Revival is one thing, 'revivalism' something else again.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Mudfrog
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# 8116

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quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog
We are not discussing a 'work of god' we are discussing revival.

That distinction is completely incomprehensible to me (assuming by 'god' you mean 'God').
You posted this whilst I was editing the g to a G...

Anyway, it's enough to say that all true revivals are a work of God but not all works of God are revivals.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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# 8116

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:



As far as the TB goes, yes, I'm sure there were people who benefited from it and who continue to look back on it as a significant time. I know people who do and I wouldn't want to take that from them.

But it certainly wasn't a revival in the definitive sense of the term.

And in my experience in Loughborough at the time it was never really described as a revival anyway - it was more a 'time of refreshing.' It did cause a lot of people to think that it would lead to a revival - unfortunately the 'required elements' were not there: there was no revival of preaching, of holiness, of worship, evangelism, of social action...

It never turned into anything else but a time of heightened spiritual experience for those who chose to travel and go into those places where it was happening.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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Yes, I'd say that this was the case more broadly too, Mudfrog ... right across the country. I knew people who were involved in the Toronto thing in South Wales, the South West, London and in the North of England and the results were exactly as you describe in Loughborough.

It was generally framed as a 'time of refreshing', but the expectation was there that this would in turn lead to revival.

My view, 20 years on, was that it was simply the bubbling over of revivalist expectations and a particular form of spirituality. Once you've had everyone rolling around on the floor laughing or falling over etc etc what do you do next?

Spiritually speaking, it was something of a dead-end.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Mudfrog
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Well God knows we need a revival now! I look at all the efforts the churches of every flavour and hue have tried over the last 30 years and I just see no lasting results as far as church, community and society are concerned.

i liken it to a spring that has reached its elastic limit - we just have no ability to restore the church and ensure its survival.

It does, in the words of my friend upthread, need a work of God.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

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There was a Morris Cerullo Mission to London a couple of weeks ago - did anyone hear anything about it?

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
There was a Morris Cerullo Mission to London a couple of weeks ago - did anyone hear anything about it?

No

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Baptist Trainfan
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This report appeared in the "Independent".
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Mudfrog
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You see, the difference between this and what Jesus did (and what the evangelical revivalists did) was that Jesus preached the gospel. he did not preach healing. He performed healings, of course, but he never preached about it. He didn't call people to healing, he called people to repentance.

This, I believe, comes down to one point of doctrine/theology.

Pentecostals and charismatics, by and large, believe that physical healing is included in the work of the cross.

Evangelicals, by and large, do not. I certainly do not believe that Jesus died on the cross to win my physical healing; it is not part of the atonement.

A Pentecostal mission, therefore, will indeed speak about physical healings as a manifestation of the presence of the Saviour. If people are healed - ta da! the work of the cross is made manifest.

Evangelical revivalists from Wesley through Finney, Moody and Sankey, to Booth and on to Billy Graham and others, will see converts trusting in Christ for salvation as the 'evidence' that God is moving in a meeting or service.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

Posts: 8237 | From: North Yorkshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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I'm not sure I'd see what does or doesn't happen in a service as necessarily evidence of a 'move of God'.

It can be.

I've heard priests of more sacramental traditions say, 'We have an altar call every week, it's called Holy Communion ...'

[Biased]

The fruit of any of this - people 'responding' or 'going forward' and so on in revivalist meetings or else going to receive communion week by week or sitting in silence as the Quakers do or whatever else people may do or not do in church gatherings - can only be assessed by how people live outside those gatherings themselves.

It's easy to be caught up with the atmosphere, be that in a revivalist service or a bells and smells one ...

There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself - we are creaturely creatures after all - but if it stops there then there are problems.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Pentecostals and charismatics, by and large, believe that physical healing is included in the work of the cross.

They also believe that the presence of the Spirit is demonstrated by "signs following", ergo they will seek those signs as proof that the Spirit is present!

Having said that, a lot of "traditional" Pentecostals make (or used to make) a point of preaching the "simple Gospel", even though they say they believed in the "Foursquare" variety!

[ 17. August 2014, 14:10: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

Posts: 9750 | From: The other side of the Severn | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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Most traditional Penties I've met have simply been very fundamentalist evangelicals with a distinctly Arminian flavour and with the Pentie emphasis as some kind of bolt-on extra.

The mileage does vary.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Martin60
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When all else fails, perhaps the church will pick up the cross of the suffering and suffer sharing the load with them. THEN something would be seen, known to be going on. Until then, there will be this chaff, where God suffers us.

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Love wins

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