By TONY MOBILIFONITIS
JUST when you thought it couldn’t get any darker in America, a Christian revival breaks out in the Methodist Asbury University in the small Kentucky town of Wilmore. The event has grabbed international headlines and prompted all sorts of reactions, positive and negative, from within and without the wider church.
Not even a “measles alert” from the CDC and Health Canada, warning that 20,000 revival attendees “may have been exposed to measles, and undervaccinated attendees should quarantine and monitor symptoms for 21 days”, could put a stop to this event. The CDC’s attempt to throw a wet blanket over the event failed and it continues regardless.
To any readers identifying as agnostic or atheist, such events may not make any sense but they are well known in history. Observers believe it could have profound effects on the United States, which is in the midst of a crisis being driven by a decadent and deeply corrupt administration overseeing a neo-Marxist revolution and proxy war against Russia. A revival in a university might be seen as counter-revolutionary in this respect.
On February 8, 2023, the university’s regularly scheduled chapel service never ended. “What we have experienced since that Wednesday morning has been a current of immeasurable goodness flooding our community and quickly moving into other regions of the world. Words fail any effort to communicate the abundance of experiences and stories that will leave us forever changed,” the university president Dr Kevin Brown says in a special public statement. Early in March it was still going and other universities across the US such as Texas A&M and worldwide were joining in.
Through February some 50,000 people flooded into the Kentucky town from across America, stretching its infrastructure to its limits, prompting the college administrators to set up a livestream to another location in central Kentucky and restrict evening services at the university to college-age and high school students age 25 and under.
Observers note that the revival was unplanned and spontaneous and is being mostly led by the students themselves. But one Aussie commentator, based on a talk given by a self-proclaimed “celibate gay Christian” at the university, jumped to the wrong conclusion the entire thing was led by gays. There’s no evidence to support that quite outrageous allegation.
Critics need to look at history to see that spiritual revivals are not anything new, especially in America. Asbury Theological College itself has experienced several revivals in 1905, 1950, 1958 and 1970, so they are something of a Methodist tradition. And as pointed out by one writer linked to be Time Magazine, every revival has its Old Lights and New Lights.
More well known is the Great Awakening, a revival in the British American colonies that ran from 1720 into the 1740s. Wikipedia records this was a part of the religious ferment that swept western Europe in the latter part of the 17th century and early 18th century that birthed the Pietism and Quietism movements among Protestants and Roman Catholics and Evangelicalism in England under the leadership of John Wesley (1703–91). Notable revivalist leaders in the American colonies were Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.
The Second Great Awakening from 1795 to 1835 started in northern Kentucky just north of Wilmore, Kentucky. This Protestant revival was notable for worship and preaching in the woods where people would fall to the ground shaking “under the influence of the Holy Spirit”.
During the destructive Civil War (1861-65) that killed an estimated 750,000 Americans, came the Holiness Movement with a series of Methodist revivals which shunned the tobacco, alcohol and gambling of the saloon bar lifestyle associated with the wild west. But there was also real social reform associated with revivals, for instance, Wilberforce’s anti-slavery campaign.
In 1900, the Topeka Kansas Outpouring set the stage for the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, which involved many from the Armenian community who had fled to the USA on on the basis of a long-standing prophecy written by a boy in 1852 that predicted the Turkish genocide of Armenians in 1914. A map also gave directions to Los Angeles.
More recent spiritual phenomena include the “Toronto Blessing” in Canada and the Pensacola, Florida revivals through the 1990s. Again, both were controversial and both were able to use the internet to become known worldwide.