Sunday, July 03, 2016

Reports of Revival in America

In the 2000 years of Christianity, American churches seem unique at having blended big special calendar events with the assembling and worship of a church.  If America were ever to end, churches won't keep trying to integrate church with July 4th.  It wouldn't work any more.

Of several patriotic themes, church leaders harmonize national revival with their preaching and their programs.  Sub-categories to national revival have been titled the first and second great awakenings. These are treated as biblical in proportions and often added as sources for doctrine and practice. Many, including myself, reject the second as a great or even an awakening, more of a source of some of the most serious errors in the whole world since.  Jonathan Edwards criticizes even the first in his Treatise on the Religious Affections.

Most orthodox, conservative biblical theologians agree the first great awakening was the great awakening.  From a human perspective, the first was great, and all sorts of benefits to America have been tied to its results.  Even while the first was occurring, folks attempted to get on the bandwagon through various means, producing unbiblical works and consequences eschewed by Jonathan Edwards.

The great awakening was no kind of contrived plan orchestrated by people looking for an event. There was no yearning for a previous experience, because one hadn't been had.  America needed a great awakening and was ready for it.  George Whitefield came and preached, not impersonating anything.  It happened.

Whitefield didn't need a song man, building the atmosphere with his stirring music.  Whitefield exposed scripture with dense salvation theology.  He gave strong biblical explanation of the gospel.

The second came from men who tried to cook the first from a box.  It was happening whether it was happening or not, so it happened, even though it didn't.  It didn't happen, but it was said to have happened.  What didn't happen was celebrated as though it did.  This has occurred and occurs, that is, men calling and then celebrating something like it did happen, when it didn't.  If it could happen once, it can happen again and again.

The box says that you know you've got an awakening, a revival, if you see a certain size of results:  big crowds, numbers of professions, and emotion. The second emphasized revival techniques to bring hearers to immediate decision using new measures intended to heighten emotions. The crowds and the professions grow.  That validates it as a revival.  Why do some people get this experience when others don't?   The explanation is a man with power, people who want it more and for a longer period than others.

You might hear, "They prayed fifteen years for this and now it has come."  The parallel in the theology of revivalism is that saints prayed in Jerusalem for a period and then got the answer in Acts 2, attempting to make that event normative as a revival.  You hear the same language:  the Holy Spirit has come down, has visited, has been poured out.  Part of the scenario is also a meeting.  It has to be people traveling in to meet.  Some sort of daring, bold, abnormal consciousness is reached, alive in an atypical fashion.

Let's say you had an obedient church.   A true gospel was being preached everywhere in town and even beyond.  The people are growing.   The people are evangelizing.  That church, however, isn't seeing the crowds, professions, and emotion, so a revivalist observes that it's missing something.  However, if everything experienced was all good, and revival is good, why can't that be revival?  

God isn't good enough.  Obedience isn't good enough.  The Bible isn't good enough.  There's always got to be something more.

Many different sources (one, two, three) report revival in Burlington, NC with "Evangelist" C. T. Townsend, based on the same superficial criteria for the second great awakening.  After everything proceeding from the second, one would think that folks would have learned.  Just like people sought for a second after the first, the discontent perpetuates itself.  So much is wrong here.

Can we stop looking for revival across America, like this is part of our national heritage, and start looking for believing the Bible and obeying it?  Revivals will come when they come.  If they don't, all you're left with is believing the Bible and obeying it. That's enough.

I come back to July 4th.


As an addendum to this post, I have experienced "revival."  My senior year in high school, I attended a large Christian school that began a fad at the time (it might still be happening) called "school camp."  The entire school would pack up and go to camp the first week of school and hear revivalist preaching morning and evening.  The camp schedule left very little time for sleep, so everyone would be very weary.  Besides "preaching" with a main emphasis on emotional manipulation, there was the use of the invitation.

As I look back at my high school years, a majority of 150 or so students were unconverted.  Out of the 45 graduates in my class, I'm the only either pastor or missionary.  My experience was that many of the students in our school were worldly and ungodly.

During the week of school camp, by the estimations of many, we experienced revival.  Seventeen students made professions of faith.  At the end of the week, there were many very emotional testimonies to how God had changed their lives.  As I lived through the rest of that senior year, I guarantee you that very little changed, including in almost all of the lives of those who made professions of faith.  However, we had "revival."

What I'm saying is that I know what "revival" looks like.  I mean "revival," and not actual revival. What people call revival and seek in the way of revival, I experienced that.


Matthew Devers said...

Amen. Thank you for talking about what true revival is. I've heard "revivalists" preach and it seems like it was more about an emotional experience rather than consistent obedience. I noticed you put "evangelist" in quotes. Do you think the modern evangelist/ itinerant preacher is an unscriptural position? Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks. You commented before with a question. I posted it and didn't come back to it. I wouldn't mind if you told me what you had posted before so I could answer it.

Regarding above, the term "evangelist" is used only three times in the NT. I believe it is someone who is sent by a church to an area to preach the gospel to everyone, one who is uniquely equipped to do that. It is an office of the church. Today the word "missionary" is used to describe this task or office. However, many missionaries don't go to regions as evangelists either, even though they are called missionaries.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Someone emailed me about this post and thought it needed clarification.

On Jonathan Edwards "criticizing" the first great awakening, it is not to say that the great awakening was not legitimate, even as I wrote above. It was a great awakening. He was criticizing some of what was happening or what happened in the following nature of what someone wrote in an introduction to his book at CCEL:

Written in 1746 during the First Great Awakening, Religious Affections remains an important and challenging Christian treatise. Concerned that many people do not display true "religious affections," Jonathan Edwards attempts to "discern...wherein true religion does consist." Balancing between extreme "intellectualism" and extreme "emotionalism," Edwards argues that emotions are an important part of true religion, but that one must distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate emotions. He provides both "negative" or unreliable signs of true religious emotions, and "positive" or reliable signs of true religious emotions.

Then, regarding the 2nd Great Awakening, I'm talking about it as a whole, but at the same time not saying that no one was converted. Surely people were converted during this time. The two were very different and that is worth investigation for someone.

I'm critiquing revivalism briefly here, dovetailing it with July 4th church celebrations, and bringing in a highly touted "revival" occurring right now in NC in light of what we know about what people have called revival.

Matthew Devers said...

Bro. Brandenburg
Thanks for the reply. I came to a similar conclusion about evangelists after studying what Philip the evangelist actually did.
My previous question was in regards to the post "Scripture Repudiates Innovation in and by the Church". My question was, " Would you reject such things as baby dedications as practiced in many baptist churches? The best I can tell a church doesn't practice it in the NT and it seems to come from protestant influence. Thank you for any answer." It has been explained to me as a way to dedicate the parents to raise the child right, and as a way to get lost family members into the church to hear the gospel. Neither of those seemed right if we're already committed to raising our children right and if "go instead of invite" is the Biblical way to preach the gospel.

KJB1611 said...

I decided to look at the doctrinal statement and salvation message of the church in North Carolina where the media are saying a revival is going on. The doctrinal statement said nothing about repentance and said that to be saved the lost should pray the prayer and mean it and they will go to heaven. They are told nothing about repentance, turning from their sins, receiving a Christ who is both Lord and Savior, etc. The salvation page said to say the prayer and mean it and you will go to heaven. I looked at the webpage of the preacher who is leading the meeting. His doctrinal statement says nothing about repentance either. His sending church's statement says nothing about repentance and says to say the prayer and mean it and you will go to heaven. That is certainly not what the Apostles preached in Acts.

Tom Balzamo said...

Where can I find more information about the the problems of "revivalism"? What's the history/etiology of such? Is it simply a problem of truncating Lordship and repentance, and adding emotional manipulation or are there other identifiers too?

Garrett Jackson said...

I have attended the meetings in Burlington, NC held by C.T. Townsend. I personally know the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, his wife, and two of their sons. In response to KJB1611's comment that the church makes no mention of repentance being necessary for salvation, please tell me how you arrived at that conclusion given this directly from its website:

The Way of Salvation

We believe that salvation is wholly of grace and that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. Salvation is through the finished work of Christ on the cross and that it is the free gift of God which is neither merited, nor secured through the works of man. It is received only by personal faith in Christ and His shed blood on the cross. We believe that all who will repent of sin, trusting Christ alone are saved, made perfectly righteous before God, and given the standing of sonship by the new birth into God’s family. We believe that there is no possible salvation outside of Christ and His shed blood.

Help me understand please.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Garrett,

Thanks for pointing that out--I missed it. I stand corrected.

If you know the brethren down there, perhaps you can help them include repentance in the gospel presentation here:

instead of, in the explanation of the gospel, leaving out repentance and saying instead:

Just say this prayer and mean it from your heart:

The lost, unfortunately, are not likely to look at the statement of faith to figure out that the presentation of the gospel needs to be expanded.

I recognize that there are many churches that have beliefs that are better than what is on their website and that what is on a website may not be comprehensive or even representative. I hope that this church is one of them, and that many people are being called upon to repent and believe there, and are doing so, turnuing from their sins to Christ as Lord and Savior, so that we will be able to thank God for the hundreds serving the Lord and being His true worshippers in that area for decades to come, if the Rapture does not take place.

Thanks again for pointing out what I overlooked.

James Bronsveld said...

CBN's coverage of this event includes the following telling statement: "D.R. Harrison, marketing director for the revival, told CBN News around 500 people have accepted Christ so far in the last eight weeks."

A Marketing Director for Holy Spirit revival. If there ever was a time to be weeping between the porch and the altar...

Frank Beardsley noted in 1904 (in A History of American Revivals) that less than ten years after the Great Awakening and revival in Northampton (which was more legitimate than the succeeding revivals with their use of means and manipulations), Jonathan Edwards was removed from his Northampton pastorate for attempting to strengthen doctrine related to church membership and for seeking to discipline younger members of his church for their inappropriate reading material.

Whether it was Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Evan Roberts, or even John R. Rice, doctrine has always taken a back seat to the emotional fervor and excitement that are necessary to propel these "Holy Spirit revival" movements.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for the info. Someone wrote me the following:

Notice that Frank Shelton is a dear friend of Rodney Howard Brown ("Holy Ghost bartender") and that he is friends with CT Townsend and supports the Burlington Revival led by CT. This is like the Baptist Friends meeting on crack cocaine. What a fulfillment of Jude right before our eyes. Thousands of Independent Baptists are caught up in this as it is being lauded by Bobby Roberson, Ralph Sexton, Phil Kidd, Dwight Smith, John VanGelderen...

Garrett Jackson said...

Hi folks,

Perhaps I'm not cut from the same cloth of fundementalism as those frequenting this site... I grew up in and was saved at Faith Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. This church hosted Sword of the Lord Conferences in the 1960's. I later joined Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, NC. Although I no longer live there, my parents are still members.

I disagree with absolutely nothing in the description of salvation as shown on Bro. Brandenburg's church's website. I despise modernism, any sort of contemporary music, etc. My family dresses modestly and we use only the KJV. I have always thought of myself as about as conservative of a Baptist as there is.

Now in reading this site, I see Pastor Roberson being criticized. The same Pastor Roberson who has been faithful at Gospel Light for 60 years, has run dozens of buses picking up kids all throughout that area, seen thousands come to salvation, and he's being criticized for supporting these meetings? As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been to these meetings. I know what's going on. And the comment that "doctrine has always taken a back seat"??? I don't get it.

Can someone please explain to me specifically what is unscriptural about the methods of these meetings? Is it unscriptural to have another preacher preach in your pulpit for a week? And then if the crowds get to the size that they exceed the buildings capacity, is it unscriptural to put up a tent? Is it unscriptural to have godly music and preach the gospel under a tent and give an invitation? Do you all doubt that these people are getting saved? Sure, there will be those that come forward and are not being led by the Holy Spirit. But I genuinely believe that many have been saved.

I just don't get the position of those commenting thus far. I've seen no posts with scripture that would show these meetings to be in error, and I don't want to rely on someone's opinion. But if the meetings are in error according to scripture, wouldn't it be correct Biblically for you all to pick up the phone and share that privately with Pastor Hobbs and Bro. Townsend, rather than exposing an error in a public forum such as this?

I am attempting to have a heart that is open to instruction, but I would like to learn the basis for your position.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Garrett,

How long have you read here? If you had read here much, which isn't a requirement for reading here or commenting, you would know then that we don't consider ourselves here to be fundamentalists, so we are no stripe of fundamentalism, because we aren't fundamentalist. I want to answer your comment in full, but to start, I don't think there was much criticism of Bobby Roberson, just one statement with a list of names in which his was included, that was sent to me, that I thought was similar to another comment. I'll write more some other time.

Garrett Jackson said...

Thanks Kent. Haven't read here at all. Sorry for not being better informed. I'd love to know more about your beliefs, and if there's something you've written that would help me in that regard, please point me to it.

I do want to hear more about how these meetings are in conflict with the Bible, so I'd appreciate your addressing the questions I asked in my previous post when you have time.

I went to lunch with a godly man that I respect greatly last Friday, and in the conversation he briefly made a statement that I took to be negative toward the CT Townsend meetings. Since another man was there eating with us, I didn't want to push the issue and kept quiet. I plan to call him this week to learn more.

And to your point that there wasn't much criticism of Bobby Roberson, I'd say that even a tiny bit of unwarranted criticism is wrong.


Kent Brandenburg said...


The little criticism of Bobby Roberson was one point, that is, he was touting was is happening in Burlington as revival. It is revivalism, but not revival, as seen in numbers of different factors, including what we have pointed out here, the language of "accept Jesus as Savior" and "accept Jesus into your heart." It's also obviously not doctrinal and exegetical, based on biblical preaching, but emotionalism. All of this is easy to see. I don't know Bobby Roberson, so I don't know if that is par for the course for him, but if he says this is a good thing, then he is wrong. It isn't showing biblical discernment.

I could spend a lot more time on the Burlington "revival," fleshing out the problems, but it isn't anything that I would ever have to do with. It was brought to my attention by someone closer to it, so I took the opportunity to talk about revival here. I don't mind spending time talking to you about biblical ministry, what the work of God should look like, and how the Sword of the Lord, Hyles, revivalistic, continuationistic stuff is antithetical to scripture. Jesus or the Apostles did nothing like attempt to whoop everyone up into a frenzy and then work them at an invitation.

Earlier someone came on here and said that there really is no problem with someone screaming while he's preaching, yelling, etc. That is like reviewing a bad movie and saying I have no problem with the use of film or clothing. It's not wrong to yell, but it's how the yelling is being used, what it is, how it relates to the right understanding of preaching and what preaching should be. These shouldn't be hard to understand for someone. I don't know you at all, have never met you. We want to tell people what the Bible says and do it the way the Bible says. This is not the case in Burlington, NC and that is easy to see.

Scripture is against, against, using promotion and marketing, giving small toys and candy and soda to children to lure them to church. That is unscriptural. It is carnal weaponry. I've written a lot about it here. I think you mentioned something about that method in one of your comments.

I don't mind continuing to talk about it.

KJB1611 said...

Daer Garrett,

I wanted to make clear also that the fact that the writers are not fundamentalists does NOT mean that they are not Baptist separatists--they are. They think fundamentalism is too interdenominationalist and too weak.

Also, I saw a video where people at the meetings have their names read out and they are said to be saved because they have asked Jesus into their heart. Could you please explain where the Bible states that people are saved by asking Jesus into their heart? Please check out:



KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

By the way, I agree that if something thinks that he can butcher Scripture but it is fine because he is yelling, or that somehow yelling is superior to not yelling, that is not OK.

Garrett Jackson said...

Thanks gentlemen. I appreciate the comments and I look forward to reading the article that KJV1611 posted.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thomas and Others,

The medium someone uses in communication, speech, music, etc. does mean something. Why is someone yelling and yelling? Did Jesus do that? You want to be heard, yes. C.T. Townsend yells into a microphone. He's got a microphone, so he doesn't need to yell to be heard. He's using the yelling to whip people into a frenzy, to make them feel something, which they then think is the Holy Spirit, but it is just excitement caused by yelling, like someone has at a pep rally. He also hops up on one foot and waves his hands. How does this relate to the authority of scripture? He should be explaining the Bible, but he's manipulating people. They then make professions of faith, which they instantly count for all to see as salvation decisions. That is more manipulation, called bandwagon effect. He and others also do it with the music, and that is the point of the kind of music they do, to use it to make people feel emotional, to disengage from the brain. It needs to be pointed out, not excused. It needs to be repudiated. If we can judge bad music, we can judge this kind of speech too. Read what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1, among other places, such as in 2 Corinthians when he defended himself against accusations that he was using manipulative methods.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Thanks for the comment--I will think about that. I think it is the first time I can recall someone arguing that yelling is actually not just a non-issue but actually a negative. I would think that if there is something worth yelling about, it is what God says, rather than about a meaningless football team, etc., but we don't want to improperly manipulate people, for sure. Also, good point with the bandwagon affect. I, and many others, are joining you to make that point.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Yelling per se isn't the problem, but the using of your voice, the yelling. Sometimes we yell, yes, we're excited. I do it too, but the act, the presentation, not around exposition or exegesis, not around exposure of scripture, but of exciting people with your voice. I think it is non-sequitur to say, people get excited for a football game, a meaningless thing, screaming at the game, and so we need to transfer that excitement to something that does matter, the Bible and God, and then it is good excitement.

It isn't to say that people can't be motivated by emotional means. It is carnal weaponry though. It is superficial. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not being manipulated by someone's voice.

We're having these national conventions right now, RNC and DNC, and people will use means to manipulate people. They market, they promote, they attempt to fire people up. You get them trying to cause excitement in the crowd. This same means shouldn't be used for preaching.

Marty said...

Independent Baptists here in the South are enamored with revivalism. Pulpit theatrics, hacking, running the aisles, the women screaming and crying and general confusion reigns in many, if not most IFB camp meetings and revival meetings. It's not considered to be of the Holy Ghost if there isn't plenty of singing, shouting, and swinging from the rafters. Every meeting, and often every church service is an attempt to recreate the last great meeting.

KJB1611 said...

David Cloud published a good analysis of the Burlington meetings here:

Tim Lassiter said...

To Mr. Brandenburg. You said that the bible was against using promotion and marketing to lure people to church. Lets read Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. The key word there is compel. The definition of that is: To make something happen; to force (something). There is a old saying here in the south. You can not clean the fish till you catch it. Some writers have used the word urge. Just thought i would throw my two cents in.

P.S. There is a lot lately being said about the Burlington Revival. Jealousy is bad for the soul. Have a great day..

Unknown said...

When true revival comes.. the world will not only know it; but the world will be turned upside down! A weak watered down church will not have revival. Revival begins with ME! When we all realize that.. then maybe we'll have a great revival.