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Andrew Blackwood on Revivalism

Here is another selection from the same Blackwood piece. His critique is probably not new to most. What I found interesting is that he was saying this 50 years ago. Furthermore, the eccentric methods he describes have often found their way into our regular meetings today. We desperately need to be reminded that God does not need a “show” to reach people. The Bible is clear that God is pleased to save people through the clear preaching of His word (e.g. 1 Cor 1:18-2:5). However, many today will think your church insufficient if you do not use the latest technology and have all the latest trappings. Technology in itself is not wrong but the question is, “What are we relying on?”

“I might enumerate still other reasons why the revivalism of other days alienated many persons whom we longed to reach. They would not have objected to innocent horseplay among boys in a barn, but the critics of revivals saw no connection between the stunts that often preceded a “soul-winning” sermon and the spirit of the message itself. When the man in the pulpit wishes the one in the pew to fall down on his knees and give himself into the hands of God, as young Isaiah did in the Temple, all the steps that lead up to a decision ought to be in harmony with the holiness of the occasion. This does not mean that any part of an evangelistic service ought to resemble an old-time funeral, full of grief and despair. Neither does it mean that a man ordained of God to pray and preach ought to compete with a vaudeville show of the coarser sort…. Let all things be done decently and in order….

Other objections have to do with the prominence of human factors. New Testament evangelism stressed the presence of the Living Christ, with His pierced hands, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The human agents relied chiefly on prayer, preaching, and personal work. They did not strive for the glory of the workers, many of whom we do not know by name. In America at times the stress of revivalism has fallen on men, money, and machinery. Such activities properly call for expenditure of money on no Lilliputian scale.” (292)

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