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Source: (consider it) Thread: Reading Outpouring: new year stock-taking
Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The one and the same.

In that case, am I being unreasonable in being very wary - requiring to be persuaded rather than giving the benefit of the doubt?
Are you suggesting you apply less rigourous fact-checking to extraordinary claims made by those of your own political or religious persuasion?

I think that's precisely the mindset that's at work in Reading.

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ExclamationMark
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There's often a mindset in these things that invites us to focus on the fruit rather than to see the flaws in the process.

Fruit may be very ephemeral with new "converts" falling away very quickly once the excitement is over. The real fruit is in what happens over a much longer period of time. We have still yet to hear of how many people are actually now attending churches, increasing congregations and being disciple.

It strikes me that this kind of reporting is yet another demonstration of the church wanting to impress rather than the church wanting to witness. It all makes me rather sceptical, almost to the point of cynicism when I hear claims which can't be substantiated or which are conditioned in some way ("recommitments").

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Are you suggesting you apply less rigourous fact-checking to extraordinary claims made by those of your own political or religious persuasion?

I think that's precisely the mindset that's at work in Reading.

I'd quite like to know how other churches in the area perceive it, it seems odd to me that a leader of the Baptist Union apparently made supportive comments about something happening outside of the Baptist Union - or am I misunderstanding the link between the churches involved?

When I lived in Reading many years ago, I went to the slowest growing church in the area. Growth, smowth.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
We have still yet to hear of how many people are actually now attending churches, increasing congregations and being disciple.

Indeed, but there are enough statistics in the "Learning Review", as reported above, to tell you that the answer is "not many" and that the "productivity" in terms of disciples (ugh) added to churches for the amount of effort expended is marginal.

quote:
It strikes me that this kind of reporting is yet another demonstration of the church wanting to impress rather than the church wanting to witness.
I would find that more excusable than the reporting which has taken place, which is directed at Christians - the audience of the Baptist Times, Premier Radio, and Christian Today are hardly Joe Public.

As has been demonstrated, the local secular media don't seem to have noticed at all - another indication that precisely nothing has happened.

The media are not doing PR to hype the event to outsiders - they are hyping the event to their own constituency! This disconnect with the truth is a recipe for long-term disillusionment and cynicism.

quote:
It all makes me rather sceptical, almost to the point of cynicism when I hear claims which can't be substantiated or which are conditioned in some way ("recommitments")
The Learning Report indicates that Tommie Zito has no scruples in chalking up every prayer prayed on the street as a conversion.

Oyekan, to his credit, has (albeit quietly) distanced himself from Zito, but as I have pointed out, he continues systematically to blur the line between "conversions" (of various "levels", no less!) and "recommitments" (whatever that means).

I cannot find a single place in the Learning Review where figures for conversions are distinguished from those for recommitments.

While this is a time-honoured practice of evangelists the world over, it makes a nonsense of the entire rationale for a revival featuring mass conversions, and to my mind those who engage in such practices whilst hyping their "outpouring" as being the vehicle of a special grace for salvation (which Oyekan undoubtedly does) are that much more culpable.

Because I believe God is gracious and uses even our worst efforts, I'm sure some people will come to faith through all this.

I'm also sure that some people will be emboldened to witness to others and possibly even to do so in a sensitive and compassionate way.

Furthermore, I'm fairly sure this type of initiative will lead to improved fellowship between participating churches and probably some cross-church romances that will result in Christian weddings that broaden the gene pool and the spouses' horizons*.

But none of this requires or justifies dishonest reporting, the bandying about of half-truths, unrealistic expectations, or theologically deficient evangelistic methods.

==

*I was shocked when this rationale for evangelistic campaigns was first put to me some 25 years ago, but in all seriousness it is now one of my strongest arguments in favour of inter-church evangelistic events. I just try not to lie about it.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Writing about the Toronto Blessing movement back in the 90s, the sociologist Stanley Porter talked about the need for revivalist movements to have occasional "times of refreshing" both to reassert the truth of what they believe and to retain their "share" of the religious "market".

If either of these concepts are rumbling along in the subconscious of charismatic Christians, it is then almost inevitable that any apparent sign of revival will be leaped upon and hyped up. Indeed, any suggestion of soberly reflecting on or evaluating what's happening may be regarded as a potential Spirit-quencher and hence rejected.

Still not sure why the BU grabbed it so eagerly, though.

(A revival prayer: "Lord, if there be any spark of revival, any tiny flame ... Lord, water it!")

[ 06. January 2017, 08:04: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The one and the same.

In that case, am I being unreasonable in being very wary - requiring to be persuaded rather than giving the benefit of the doubt?
Are you suggesting you apply less rigourous fact-checking to extraordinary claims made by those of your own political or religious persuasion?

I think that's precisely the mindset that's at work in Reading.

Not quite, Eutychus. If there's a general obligation to think well of others until one has clear reason not to, what I was implying is that this might be suspended or qualified in respect of somebody who presents themselves as a Christian leader with a prophetic vision and yet has publicly supported Trump - and in that case also someone who links themselves up with such a person.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
If there's a general obligation to think well of others until one has clear reason not to, what I was implying is that this might be suspended or qualified in respect of somebody who presents themselves as a Christian leader with a prophetic vision and yet has publicly supported Trump - and in that case also someone who links themselves up with such a person.

I was careful to use the words "extraordinary claims" in my response to you.

Of course we should trust those we think well of implicitly, but when the stakes are high, I am a firm believer in trust, but verify.

I would rate my discovery of this maxim, in the course of an interpreting job in an industrial context, as one of the most life-shaping events of my life - not least because of having never heard it in a Christian context and having suffered the consequences of the mantra of "believing the best" in an environment of spiritual abuse.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - no matter who is making them. Indeed, the more affinity we feel with the claimant, the more we should feel a responsibility to check the claim, not the opposite.

I utterly reject the notion that our fact-checking should be based merely on somebody's declared political affiliations. On the contrary, I think such a mindset is right in step with the partisan divisiveness Trump and his ilk are seeking to promote for their own ends.

Finally (in this post), in the interest of good reporting [Biased] I have been asked to correct my account of last Sunday's healing testimony here. The person remarking on the extreme rarity of the improvement was not an osteopath but an orthopaedic surgeon, and the surgical procedure that was avoided due to the ankle bones fusing "spontaneously" following the prayer was Arthrodesis.

[ 06. January 2017, 08:32: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Still not sure why the BU grabbed it so eagerly, though.

As I understand it (and has been mentioned above) Lynn Green, the BU's General Secretary, has a personal connection to Reading. This article says "she sensed [God] would first move in Reading".

Her statement at The Gate on June 12, 2016 is to be found here but I've yet to get around to watching it.

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mr cheesy
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It seems to me that this whole thing is exacerbated by the theology that implies that conversion is instant and necessary for salvation.

If the theology was actually that one grows in faith and that salvation was a long(er) term process, then there would be no urgency to loudly proclaim how many people had mumbled the magic words.

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Martin60
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Exactly. Salvation for Sodom and Gomorrah and even more wicked Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin are assured after all.

[ 06. January 2017, 09:19: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Eutychus
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Have cracked and listened to Lynn Green's declaration at Reading linked to above, from June 12, 2016.

I have transcribed the relevant bits about her connection with Reading and her interest in the "Outpouring":

quote:
Two weeks ago a year ago, one night I was just going to sleep and I had this, I was just lifted up into God’s presence and I had this amazing vision of fire, and I saw that God was lighting beacons of fire all across our nation, starting here in Reading and spreading out across the nation.

(…)

I wrote it all down in my journal (…)

Because I felt that it would start in Reading, I rang Yinka and said “I’ve had this vision, and I just want to share it with you and test it with you.” So we met together a couple of days later, didn’t we? And what I didn’t know is, when I shared it was going to start in Reading and spread out, he thought it was going to start in Plymouth, I’ve only [sic] found that out, so he ignored it and I, if I’m honest, because I’m still learning in these things, I thought “well do you know, is it really Reading, because that’s just like near where I live, so maybe that’s just me”.

(…)

I am a friend of Yinka on Facebook, and when his name just keeps popping up again and again (…) I am of course praising God. But thinking “okay, God is doing something”.

And of course then that make me think about the thing that I had originally thought, that it started in Reading, but I’d screened it out, so I went back Friday morning, I went back to my journal and checked in it, and it says there, “it will start in Reading and go out from here”.

Confusingly, Lynn Green goes on to cite the parable of the sower, effectively describing what's going on as "sowing", which is a very long way from how the happenings had been described, but also citing Jesus' promise not to lose any of those the Father has given him, which somehow suggests all those contacted will be saved.

Rather more cynically, but perhaps importantly, this testimony also tells us that Oyekan knew Lynn Green had an expectation of something happening in Reading, presumably well before he had invited Tommie Zito. I can see scope for wanting to fulfil that expectation...

To her credit Lynn Green also says
quote:
“We need to be open to critique, we need to be open to what God is saying to us.”
Any Baptists out there willing to engage with her on that in the light of this thread?

[ 06. January 2017, 09:52: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
If there's a general obligation to think well of others until one has clear reason not to, what I was implying is that this might be suspended or qualified in respect of somebody who presents themselves as a Christian leader with a prophetic vision and yet has publicly supported Trump - and in that case also someone who links themselves up with such a person.

I was careful to use the words "extraordinary claims" in my response to you.

Of course we should trust those we think well of implicitly, but when the stakes are high, I am a firm believer in trust, but verify.

I would rate my discovery of this maxim, in the course of an interpreting job in an industrial context, as one of the most life-shaping events of my life - not least because of having never heard it in a Christian context and having suffered the consequences of the mantra of "believing the best" in an environment of spiritual abuse.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - no matter who is making them. Indeed, the more affinity we feel with the claimant, the more we should feel a responsibility to check the claim, not the opposite.

...

Finally (in this post), in the interest of good reporting [Biased] I have been asked to correct my account of last Sunday's healing testimony here. The person remarking on the extreme rarity of the improvement was not an osteopath but an orthopaedic surgeon, and the surgical procedure that was avoided due to the ankle bones fusing "spontaneously" following the prayer was Arthrodesis.

Good man.

We MUST bring these things before God as openly as we can, dreadfully careful not to hurt little ones' faith with our facts. Including our own ... little one's faith that is.

Was this first hand? By a Christian orthopaedic (why did SOF get their poxy spellchecker?) surgeon?

Uh oh. Tongue-in-cheek alert.

And is the healing an example of God having a first go, as with the blind bloke who could see people walking like trees after Jesus spat in his eyes?

Or is this all your according to your faith that could be achieved?

And of course the bones fusing wasn't placebo, sorry for not paying attention to that. It's physiology where placebo at least did no harm and probably helped. I never underestimate the power of positive (and negative) thinking (people have willed themselves to death) and even of denial to have a positive outcome (an anecdotal account by a doctor of psychology friend of a Godless man successfully denying cancer).

If it were minimal, gradual divine intervention in this case that looks like normal rare physiology, then one would have to believe in theistic evolution for a start surely and that the un-purposed supra-natural multiverse (because it's thermodynamically open, unlike individual universes) that requires no explanation actually is supernatural, purposed? One would have to go the whole Cheshire hog and have to be a YEC surely? Despite the fact that everything about the universe and evolution and this healing looks fully natural, driven ultimately by inferred ineffable necessity still infinitely less ineffable than God, God done it and completely covered His tracks?

Or can God only do miracles nowadays in the developed world that don't actually look like miracles, that wouldn't have happened nonetheless if He didn't?

The same with religious revivals. They actually happened by faith despite not factually happening. Nothing new about living in a post-truth or rather pre-truth culture there! The Soviet Union ran (down) on the same basis, raging against the BBC's 'factist' propaganda. Putin learned well. Ignore THE facts, just make up your own.

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Love wins

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Was this first hand? By a Christian orthopaedic (why did SOF get their poxy spellchecker?) surgeon?

I know the testifier first-hand and have done so for many years. I don't know who her surgeon is but no suggestion at all of any faith connection.

I don't think the testifier is expecting anything beyond the improvement she has experienced. To my mind she made neither more nor less of it than she should have done.

quote:
Or is this all your according to your faith that could be achieved?
I have no idea. But I cannot get away from the fact that she invoked a biblical prayer from the elders in good faith, we obeyed, and she's felt better ever since, and I'm simply grateful to God for that.

As my late grandmother-in-law used to say, "be thankful for small mercies, big'uns are coming".

Do we have a 100% hit rate with such prayers? Nowhere near. I try to distract people's attention from that Scripture, not draw them to it, in the hope of not getting such requests!

quote:
Despite the fact that everything about the universe and evolution and this healing looks fully natural, driven ultimately by inferred ineffable necessity still infinitely less ineffable than God, God done it and completely covered His tracks?
There's no need for a binary all-or-nothing approach: I invite you to meditate on the "Why not both?" meme some more.

God was in some way involved in this process by virtue of the fact that the person asked for prayer and anointing of oil from the elders, and her acknowledging that in her testimony. That is good enough for me.

In other news, in an attack of conscience I have e-mailed Lynn Green alerting her to the existence of this thread.

Hello Lynn if you're reading [Big Grin]

(I wonder if Ramarius is? [Confused] )

[ 06. January 2017, 11:56: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Gamaliel
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Yes, I'd like to see Ramarius back too.

On the thing SvitlanaV2 raised about whether reasonable, well-informed people can be involved with 'revival' ... well, I would suggest that yes, of course they can.

The Wesleys were reasonable and well-informed, even if they could have some pretty odd ideas at times. Hence the title of Henry Lack's impressive biography of John Wesley, 'Reasonable Enthusiast'.

John Wesley and his contemporaries weren't quite so taken with 'revival phenomena' as many revivalists claim. Sure, they went along with the hootin' and the hoolerin' at times but it's pretty obvious from the contemporary accounts that they didn't take everything that happened at face value and as time went on were more inclined to be more sceptical towards some of the claims that were made.

As with everything else, it was a mixed bag.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I was careful to use the words "extraordinary claims" in my response to you.

Of course we should trust those we think well of implicitly, but when the stakes are high, I am a firm believer in trust, but verify.

I would rate my discovery of this maxim, in the course of an interpreting job in an industrial context, as one of the most life-shaping events of my life - not least because of having never heard it in a Christian context and having suffered the consequences of the mantra of "believing the best" in an environment of spiritual abuse.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - no matter who is making them. Indeed, the more affinity we feel with the claimant, the more we should feel a responsibility to check the claim, not the opposite.

I utterly reject the notion that our fact-checking should be based merely on somebody's declared political affiliations. On the contrary, I think such a mindset is right in step with the partisan divisiveness Trump and his ilk are seeking to promote for their own ends. ....

Thanks for those two links. Those two phrases both express valuable concepts succinctly.

I'm not saying, incidentally, that Bill Johnson cannot be doing the work of God. IMHO it's a deeply flawed view to take the line that either:-

- If a person is doing God's work, that means God endorses everything he or she does or says;

or

- If a person says or does something that appears to be less than the best, that means anything they do that purports to be God's work, can't be, and must be some sort of counterfeit.

Either of those approaches, and they are no more than different versions of the same mistake, are unincarnational, the fruit of not taking Incarnation seriously - though, Martin, I accept I may be using that word in a way you don't agree with.


However, and this may be a tangent, but it's a big however. Suppose you speak publicly about prophecy and run something with a title like 'Supernatural School of Ministry. If you then want to make contributions to public debate, I do think you owe it to that public to go out of the way to make it clear that they are merely your personal opinions, that your opinions have no more status than anyone else's opinions, and that you don't want to sway other people by your words. The responsibility rests on you actively to discourage your listeners from concluding that your personal opinions have the voice of God behind them. Otherwise, whether you like it or not, some people will take your words that way - which if intentional or even unwitting, is a very serious form of spiritual abuse.

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Martin60
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Thanks Eutychus.

Aye, the circuit flows. I have to believe that God is thinking infinite creation immanently, our infinitesimal local proof for Earth being Jesus. Therefore your friend was orthodoxly moved to ask using the protocols of the epistles, specifically James. I doubt my church, being very low, would use them. It seems to be delegated to 'the prayer team', who are very loosely elders I suppose. Who do apply oil I think.

I know your narrative is completely true in the forensic sense and that it all happened in God's provision (i.e. 'both') for which we must thank Him, but we cannot thank Him for an incontrovertible miracle, a wonder. None happened. Nobody here has ever claimed one. Do we thank Him for an invisible miracle? A miracle obliterated by fact but nonetheless there, like a six day old universe six thousand years ago obliterated by 13.7 Ga of facts?

Your both means something other than my both.

And if we're being honest, why can't we tell people what James said? And if not, why not?

Because they are little ones? Not very grown up is it? A tad more than what I'm used to mind.

I agree, we need to do both, but our boths are different.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


On the thing SvitlanaV2 raised about whether reasonable, well-informed people can be involved with 'revival' ... well, I would suggest that yes, of course they can.

The Wesleys were reasonable and well-informed, even if they could have some pretty odd ideas at times. Hence the title of Henry Lack's impressive biography of John Wesley, 'Reasonable Enthusiast'.

John Wesley and his contemporaries weren't quite so taken with 'revival phenomena' as many revivalists claim. Sure, they went along with the hootin' and the hoolerin' at times but it's pretty obvious from the contemporary accounts that they didn't take everything that happened at face value and as time went on were more inclined to be more sceptical towards some of the claims that were made.

As with everything else, it was a mixed bag.

Well, the Wesleys were well-trained clergymen, so they knew what was what. Whether the people they were ministering to were quite so reasonable and well-informed is another matter. The movement didn't seem to have a great deal of success among people who were as well-bred and educated as the Wesleys (plus a few fellow ministers from their uni days).

Can the supposedly distasteful elements of revival ever be eliminated without destroying revival itself? Probably not.


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
It seems to me that this whole thing is exacerbated by the theology that implies that conversion is instant and necessary for salvation.

If the theology was actually that one grows in faith and that salvation was a long(er) term process, then there would be no urgency to loudly proclaim how many people had mumbled the magic words.

If conversion isn't necessary then evangelism is largely a waste of time. I don't think that's a very fashionable view, even in churches that shy away from it....

Regarding conversion, I've read that it isn't necessarily viewed as a spontaneous affair. There's a sense that various input has led the individual to the point of making a decision. I think there are revivalistic commentators who believe that the ground was being prepared long before the historical revivals took place. IOW, these events didn't occur in a spiritual (or, of course, a sociological) vacuum.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The movement didn't seem to have a great deal of success among people who were as well-bred and educated as the Wesleys (plus a few fellow ministers from their uni days).

Some people would take an anti-intellectual view of this and claim that too much "academe" encourages scepticism and is inimical to "simple faith".

I can't agree with that; however it may be that those who are trained to think things through analytically do require a different kind or level of evidence to those who work on a more subjective basis. Certainly I have never been able to wholeheartedly embrace revivalism, although I have sometimes experienced cognitive dissonance between "this is exactly the sort of hype I can't stand" and "but God is clearly at work here"!

It's interesting to notice that early Pentecostalism in Britain mostly flourished among less educated people - although some of its early leaders (Cecil Polhill, Alexander Boddy) had a university background. Andrew Walker notes, however, that many of these folk had a good deal of common sense and were quick to sniff out exaggerated claims.

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Gamaliel
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Hmmmm ... again SvitlanaV2, I think we need to look beyond the populist revivalist accounts.

As far as historians can ascertain, most of the converts during the mid-18th century revivals were from the lower-middle class and upper working class - the artisanal and small trader classes generally.

Other than the Kingswood miners - which was strikingly unusual - the movement doesn't seem to have affected the poorest of the poor, as it were. It was generally the 'middling sort' - the sort of people who, in an earlier generation, had generally gravitated to 'Old Dissent'.

The revivalist movement did have some aristocratic followers - such as the Countess of Huntingdon who had her own 'Connexion' and who bank-rolled preachers and chapels - but by and large it seems to have bypassed both the gentry and the paupers.

Most people involved were skilled tradesmen or small shop-keepers and such.

Ok, that's largely going on those who left written accounts and doesn't take into account people who may have been involved from the lowest of class rankings - but the general historical consensus was that it was a largely artisan/lower middle class thing.

The later Primitive Methodist revival was more working-class in tone and the Baptists tended to be less middle-class than the Wesleyans back then.

Henry Lack suggests that John Wesley probably roamed more freely across the class divisions than almost anyone else of his time. The only people he seemed to be uncomfortable with were the real toffs.

Also, there was more to the 18th century Awakenings than revivalist phenomena - the shoutings, fallings, swoonings and so on. If you look at the actual evidence then such things were comparatively unusual and so were worthy of note.

Some revivalists such as John Berridge in the village of Everton actively discouraged such phenomena - or at least didn't regard it as anything of great significance - even though people are said to have cried out or gone into some kind of trance when he was preaching.

As for the ground being prepared and all that - the reality is that 18th century Britain was actually quite religious before the Awakenings. The revivalists exaggerated the spiritual darkness in order to make their own achievements the more impressive.

What the Awakenings fostered was a sense of religious 'enthusiasm' and greater levels of spiritual intensity.

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SvitlanaV2
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I wasn't talking about the gradations within the working and lower middle classes; the point is that none of these people would have have a great deal of theological grounding, or the opportunity (let alone the ability) to acquire it.

They would, of course, have had a degree of biblical knowledge as a result of the culture they were in - although Wesley himself complained about the doctrinal ignorance of some of the people who had attended church all their lives. Plus ça change....

Talking of conversions (re mr cheesy's post), Wesley himself was a baptised, ordained minister of the faith who spoke as though he hadn't been 'converted' until late in the day. If conversion isn't really necessary then Wesley was giving himself a lot of bother over not very much, certainly by today's standards of tolerance. Having made his bed, though, he had to lie in it.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit often has to work through zealous, undignified and theologically questionable efforts in order to reach the restraint of calm reason.

[ 06. January 2017, 20:03: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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The interesting thing about Wesley's conversion is that he himself puts it as occuring at different times - in his teens, his early 20s, at the famous 'Aldersgate experience' of 1738, at several subsequent occasions and on one occasion he even wrote that he'd never actually been converted at all ...

He doesn't fit any neat schema, let alone his own.

On the cold rationality and restraint thing, where am I arguing for that? I'm all for the Wesleyan warmth.

My Orthodox priest friends say that they look for 'warmth' in religious faith and profession. You don't get much that is more regulated than the Orthodox Liturgy but they still expect there to be some warmth about it ...

I'm not calling for a cold rationalism as an antidote to revivalism. Rather I'm calling for a warm-hearted and vital faith that is holistic and engages all our faculties.

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SvitlanaV2
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A faith that engages all of someone's faculties doesn't sound very revivalistic to me. All that complicated stuff is what happens after a revival, surely? Or rather, in our revival-starved culture, it might happen to a few individuals here and there.

Churches seem not to be very good at providing 'holistic' packages. Honestly, it sounds like such a difficult, time-consuming thing to do, and many congregations have their hands full either trying to keep going, or trying to manage their many projects and programmes. Which random minister would claim that their ministry or their church was called or gifted to nurture 'a warm-hearted and vital faith that is holistic and engages all our faculties'? Talk about pressure!

(And poor old Wesley. What a muddle!)

[ 06. January 2017, 22:46: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Martin60
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Well, the Holy Spirit is certainly reaching for the restraint of calm reason and warm hearted and vital faith that is holistic and engages all our faculties in everyone here, present company excepted by comparison. May be I'm the grit in the oyster.

Eutychus, SvitlanaV2, Gamaliel, Enoch, Baptist Trainfan most recently.

And Enoch, good for you in stretching the paradigm! My use is narrow. Only I and God know how appalling my not measuring up to it is.

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Gamaliel
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I s'pose I'm thinking idealistically, SvitlanaV2. I'm not saying I've achieved the ideal nor anything like it, nor has any church or community I'm aware of ...

With your Wesleyan background, I'm sure you understand an impetus and desire for improvement and what Wesley called 'persecution' - always a precariously slippery state to aim for ... As we are never going to attain it.

I'm not for a moment suggesting that everyone involved with churches should have a PhD level of theological awareness nor that churches should all devote an inordinate time to the onward spiritual development of their members.

Such a thing is impossible.

I'm not talking about putting people understand pressure.

I'm simply making observations about the pressure-cooker nature of revivalism.

I think the focus these days should be on survival rather than revival and on 'vival'in the cut and thrust of the everyday.

I'm not being prescriptive about how we do that nor recommending this, that or the other 'programme' to achieve it.

I'm sure some revivalist groups could be more effective if they took their focus off revival and simply went about living God and loving their neighbours as themselves.

Same applies to all of us.

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Gamaliel
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Dang that predictive text ... Should have been what Wesley called 'perfection' not 'persecution'!

On an individual level, I've got enough on with my wife's illness - although the cancer seems to have stabilised - with the vagaries of the 'gig economy' and with my involvement in local politics and community groups to be bothered with 'revival'.

Revival, shmival already.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I think too that the idea of revival is often predicated on a reading of Acts which, at first sight, seems to suggest that huge spiritual outpourings and wondrous miracles were normative in the early Church.

But when you read it more carefully you realise that (a) these are the "recorded highlights" of events that took place over a wide area and perhaps a period of 20 years - most of the time I daresay that the Christians just "got on with life"; and (b) many of the incidents occur for particular reasons, in particular as signs of God being prepared to bless and accept people from different cultural groups whmo the Jewish Christians would otherwise have held at arms'length.

In any case, it is quite impossible (emotionally, spiritually, practically) to sustain a revival atmosphere over a long period.

[ 07. January 2017, 07:44: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Eutychus
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I get the feeling that they're beginning to find that out in Reading...

(When I used to teach on Acts I would get someone in the group to read the first half of chapter 19 out loud. It takes about three minutes and includes the Ephesian disciples receiving the Holy Spirit, multiple healings, the failed excorcism by the sons of Sceva, and the resulting mass repentance of Ephesian sorcerers. Those are the things you come away with in your mind. Then I would point them to verse 10 which mentions Paul staying two years preaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, which of course takes just one verse and about a second to read.)

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Enoch
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BT and Eutychus, I think that point about time is a very good one. I've certainly heard people present a message that is 'if we were like the Book of Acts, all these things would be happening NOW'. Or, 'If there aren't miracles and mass conversions happening all the time, every day and everywhere, that's because you're not replicating my understanding of what the Early Church was like'.


Going back to the C18 Revival, It's an over-simplification to say that it was mainly the C18 equivalent of C1 and C2 people who responded. I suspect it was mainly they who became Methodists, but there was a big response, which was marked at the time, among the upper middle classes. However, they remained CofE. It's where the evangelical wing of the CofE comes from.

Examples include Wilberforce, the Clapham Sect, John Henry Newman's family and in fiction the younger Sir Pitt Crawley, and possibly Major Dobbin. To this day most spa towns still have at least one markedly evangelical church where the advowson belongs to an organisation called the Simeon Trustees, which bought advowsons in such places so as to preach the gospel to the quality that resorted there.

I am sure that a major impetus to the develop of Methodism as a denomination was a feeling among C1 and C2 people who had responded to the revival, that they could do it better on their own, without being shackled to the CofE and excluded from positions of power and influence in it. It's unfortunate because it has produced a schism that still endures but they had a point.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
To this day most spa towns still have at least one markedly evangelical church where the advowson belongs to an organisation called the Simeon Trustees, which bought advowsons in such places so as to preach the gospel to the quality that resorted there.

(Having looked up advowson in a dictionary)

[Eek!]

Bought??

Is it time to start nailing theses to some church door in Bath or Leamington Spa?

This looks like an exciting new tangent for another thread to distract me from real life...

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Gamaliel
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Charles Simeon ... Noted Anglican evangelical divine.

It didn't just happen in spa town either. The parish church my wife belonged to as a child has a silhouette of Simeon on the wall and some kind of trust deed that said it had to retain an evangelical ethos in perpetuity.

So yes, we don't often hear about those Anglican evangelicals who remained with the Establishment, your Henry Venn and your 'Mad Parson Grimshaw' of Haworth.

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Enoch
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Patrick Brontë, also of Haworth, though a generation later, was an evangelical. He was also a much more interesting person than the very over-simplified cartoon version put about by Mrs Gaskell for dramatic effect.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:



Going back to the C18 Revival, It's an over-simplification to say that it was mainly the C18 equivalent of C1 and C2 people who responded. I suspect it was mainly they who became Methodists, but there was a big response, which was marked at the time, among the upper middle classes.

You must be talking about the 19th c., which was after what might be called the revivalistic era of early Methodism.

I agree with your later point that many English Methodists in the past would have been CofE to start with.

But anyway, it's all water under the bridge now. The Methodists have grown up, and no longer 'do' revivals. The same may well happen to Pastor Oyekan's church or movement. Just give it time.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The same may well happen to Pastor Oyekan's church or movement. Just give it time.

Ramarius invited us to "just give it time" by effectively postponing discussion of the outpouring until the New Year.

Hence this thread; unfortunately Ramarius seems to be AWOL.

Allowing some time for the dust to settle and acquire critical distance is reasonable. Using that as an excuse to kick the difficult issues into the long grass is not.

If Christian leaders are not prepared to accept that misleading statistics, exaggeration, and wilfully maintaining an element of confusion are issues worth addressing, there is a serious problem.

Without making any comparison in terms of character judgement, Reading is too close to the Cwmbran "revival" pattern for comfort. The Christian media played their part in hyping both and deserve to be called to account for not following up.

Until people who should know better start acting a little more responsibly this pattern will repeat itself again and again. Invoking grounds of being "a bad witness" or "dampening faith" to stay silent is, in the long term, actually achieving both of those.

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Enoch
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Although John Wesley's heart was strangely warmed a little earlier, I'm really thinking mainly about the reign of George III.

[ 07. January 2017, 11:37: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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SvitlanaV2
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I've always read that in general the upper middle classes in the 18th c. had little use for Wesley, but that the Victorian era was a good time for evangelicalism in Methodism, the CofE and elsewhere. Maybe it was towards the end of George III's reign that the evangelical Methodist influence began percolating upwards.

With regard to the disappointment of false revivals, maybe the repetition tells us something about human nature, and also, I should think, about the despair borne of secularisation.

Some churches quietly manage decline, others make the best of fortunate circumstances, and yet others nurture intemperate expectations as a reaction against their own precarious existence. Everyone would like to be in the second position, but it seems impossible for many to achieve.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I've always read that in general the upper middle classes in the 18th c. had little use for Wesley.

True I'm sure, but some of them did love George Whitefield who, of course, was under the patronage of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon.
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Martin60
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The left-right, liberal-conservative divide was as obvious then as now.

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mark_in_manchester

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That just sent me off on an interesting web journey in search of who it was who described Charles Wesley on his death as 'that high-church bigot'. I found myself reading excepts from 'Charles Wesley and the Struggle for Methodist Identity' by Gareth Lloyd, which has a lot in it about more wealthy Methodists working to prevent a split with the C of E in the last years of JWs life. Interesting stuff.

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Gamaliel
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You are reading 19th century distinctions back into the 18th century SvitlanaV2. Before the Methodists seceded, the Awakening would have been seen as a largely Anglican affair ... And Whitefield would have been regarded as the leading light at the time.

The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion seceded from the Anglicans before the Wesleyan s did, if I remember rightly.

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Martin60
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They'd fit in just fine at my Anglican church.

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Bishops Finger
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They still exist, albeit as quite a small denomination (about 1000 members in the UK):

http://www.cofhconnexion.org.uk/

IJ

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Gamaliel
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The Awakening within the CofE was largely Calvinist in tone. The Wesleys were outliers as Arminians. Thing is, though, John in particular had a fairly eclectic and sometimes eccentric approach which drew on apparently contradictory models and influences.

Charles is generally seen as the more 'Anglican' of the two, if we want to pin things down.

It is true that the upper middle classes and aristocracy didn't have a lot of time for John. He didn't have much time for them either.

It is also true that the 19th century was a good time for evangelicals, but for most of the second half of the 1700s all Methodists were Anglican, and in rural areas some attended both the Methodist chapel and the parish church until well into the 19th century.

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Baptist Trainfan
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My wife and I attended the CofH chapel in St. Ives while on our honeymoon. It was a very wet day in March!
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
You are reading 19th century distinctions back into the 18th century SvitlanaV2. Before the Methodists seceded, the Awakening would have been seen as a largely Anglican affair .

But I said nothing to contradict this. My point was about class and social background. I'm well aware that the default church for most English people at the time was the CofE, that the Wesleys and their colleagues were of course Anglicans, and that the movement occurred within Anglicanism.

However, to get back on topic, the way to dampen down revivalistic hopes in Reading or anywhere else today is presumably not to be too vociferous in praising or laying claim to the Methodist (or any other) revival of the past. Why add grist to Pastor Oyekan's mill?

Wesley's ministry and legacy might rather serve as a warning to anyone who wants to see revivals everywhere....

[ 07. January 2017, 19:01: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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No, on the contrary, I'd not use the Wesleyan model as a 'warning' to contemporary revivalists but one they can learn positive things from.

The 18th century revivals could be overly pietistic but they were more holistic than what these guys in Reading are offering.

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Enoch
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The C18 revivals had profound effects which lasted several generations. Furthermore, although there were things that they could have done better, those effects were broadly very beneficial indeed.

However, despite many people trying over the years, one cannot generate a revival by copying what they did in a previous one, whether in the 1750s or the Hebrides in 1949.

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SvitlanaV2
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Yet it's been argued that Wesleyan Methodism led to Pentecostalism, which with all of its excesses has come in for heavy criticism.

Conversely, the weaknesses and liberal-leaning tendencies of modern Methodism have also been laid at Wesley's door.

But even if we avoid criticising Wesley for these developments, it could be said that his ministry benefited from particular circumstances which no longer apply today, in which case trying to follow his model in a large 21st c. British town will only doom modern evangelists to frustration and disappointment.

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Eutychus
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One of the reasons it doesn't is because there is currently in the UK a large enough and relatively rich enough constituency of evangelicals to achieve a critical mass of people for a self-sustaining sub-culture.

The combination of disposable income, information and communications technology, and good infrastructure in a relatively small country means that it's easy for a lot of people to travel from one end of the country to the other to attend a "revival" hub they find out about on Facebook or through the evangelical Christian media.

(Cwmbran is just a couple of hours' drive from London or Birmingham; Reading is practically a London suburb; Dudley is slap bang in the centre of the Midlands).

The bubble is big enough that it looks like something major is afoot. The cycle is self-perpetuating. But step outside the bubble and it's totally invisible.

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Martin60
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Excellent. But, to be unnecessarily unpleasant, surely the revival miracle still happened under the unbroken, impenetrable surface of it not happening?

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Bishops Finger
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But, if it truly happened within the bubble, surely it should have broken through the bubble wall?

IOW, did any form of revival truly happen?

By their fruits ye shall know them.

IJ

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