Friday, June 01, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: A False Pentecost, Part 7 of 22


While Baptist church membership, and that of old-school evangelicalism, began to decline after Evan Roberts finished his revivalistic course, Pentecostalism boomed, as Roberts’s influence had led many others in the holiness revival to have supernatural encounters with the spirit world similar to those he had experienced.  Donald Gee notes:  “It is impossible, and would be historically incorrect, to dissociate the Pentecostal Movement from . . . the Welsh Revival [through which] . . . the spiritual soil was prepared . . . for [its] rise.”[1]  Jessie Penn-Lewis wrote: 
[T]he Pentecostal character of the Awakening in Wales is unmistakably clear . . . the wider fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy [in chapter two about signs and wonders through Spirit baptism] is at hand.  Undoubtedly we are in a new era of the world’s history, when we may expect supernatural workings of God such as have not been known since the days of the primitive Church. . . . [B]y [receiving] a baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, “signs and wonders” w[ill] follow.[2] 
Not Roberts only, but very many saw visions and heard voices.[3]  Prominent ministers and witnesses testified that Wales was seeing what “was spoken by the prophet Joel . . . the promise [is] now evidently fulfilled in Wales”:  “If you ask for proof of that assertion, I point to the signs.  ‘Your young men shall see visions!’  That is exactly what is happening. . . . It does not at all matter that some regular people are objecting to the irregular doings. . . . If you ask me the meaning of the Welsh revival, I say—IT IS PENTECOST CONTINUED, without one single moment’s doubt.”[4]  Consequently, throughout the holiness revival of 1904-5 there were “many stories of aerial lights, aerial choirs, flashes and visions.”[5]  “Dreams, religious and otherwise, were registered by the score.”[6]  “During the Revival many persons vowed that they had heard voices in the air calling them by name and speaking to them in distinct tones and words.”[7]  The multiplication of such marvels from the spirit world was natural, since “[v]isions were looked upon as the gift of the Holy Spirit, a mark of Divine favour, and one of the concomitants of true conversion.”  With the the neglect of the Word of God “there were many who appeared to know more about their visions than about their Bible.”[8]  Thus, “Miss Florie Evans,” Evan Roberts’s coworker, “could speak of visions and messages . . . [and] prophesied.”[9]  The marvels attending Roberts made it clear that women were to preach and teach men:
The old objection of many of the Welsh Churches to the equal ministry of women has gone by the board. . . . Women pray, sing, testify, and speak as freely as men . . . the toppling of the hateful . . . ascendency of the male. . . . Paul, it is true . . . found it necessary, while addressing the Church of Corinth, to draw a very hard and fast line limiting the sphere of female activity . . . Christianity, however, is at last sloughing the Corinthian limitation[.] . . . The Quakers began the good work. . . . Now in South Wales we see the fruit of this devoted testimony . . . [i]n the present Revival women are everywhere to the fore, singing, testifying, praying, and preaching.[10]
Indeed, the visions were innumerable, but unlike Biblical visions, where God revealed real, specific, and knowable truth, the visions of the holiness revival either set forth all sorts of meaningless foolishness or specifically taught unbiblical errors.
[P]arishoners . . . heard bells chiming . . . a thunder clap followed by lovely singing in the air . . . [others heard] strange music, similar to that caused by the vibration of telegraph wires, only much louder. . . . The Vicar[11] of a parish . . . heard voices singing . . . [g]radually the voices seemed to increase in volume until they became overpowering. . . . It was as real to his senses as anything he ever heard and the words were distinct, in Welsh.[12]
A “young girl, 18 years of age” who was “almost illiterate” was supernaturally enabled to pray with “the most refined and literary sentiments, couched in admirable phraseology[,]” and her “changed appearance” was very striking, becoming “much more gentle.  Her face, previously course, has now quite a refined appearance . . . [becoming] a Madonna-like face” as she also has gained “contact with . . . her mother, though she has been dead about 15 years. . . . [S]he seems to feel her mother’s unseen influence, certainly seeing and perhaps helping her in her difficulties.”[13]  Another woman “heard the voice of her dead son, and [affirmed] that the conversations that had repeatedly passed between them were as real to her as those that had passed between them in the days of his flesh.”[14]  A “young man . . . heard a voice speaking distinctly.  The Spirit said (in Welsh)” a variety of things, including a command that “in the most public place” the young man was to deliver the message:  “Tell them that hypocrisy is the worst sin against Me . . . [t]he Spirit,”[15] a message contradicting what Christ said was the worst sin against the Spirit, to blaspheme Him (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29-30; Luke 12:10).[16]  The man also testified:  “I had a vision . . . a beautiful light, pure, and brighter than any light I have ever seen, and clusters of something very soft and white falling upon me gently and covering me all over.  I called them blessings.”  He also had other “dreams,” although he said, “I doubted whether it was the Holy Spirit.”[17]  The minister Joseph Jenkins was “clothed with strength from above, and he knew it,” receiving power from the spirit world, after “a strange blue flame took hold of him until he was almost completely covered.  It rose . . . from the floor of the room and billowed up, encircling him.  It retreated and returned a second time, and then retreated and returned again.”[18]
            While Scripture states that saving faith comes not by seeing miracles but by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), in the holiness revival people professed conversion and were led to become members of congregations because of the marvels they experienced.  For example, in a “Revival service” at “St. Mary the Virgin’s Church”:
[A] young man . . . saw a lighted candle emerge from the font [for administering infant baptism and, according to Anglican dogma, regenerating infants thereby] and the figure of an angel shielding it with his wing[19] from the draught that came from the open door.  The flame was very small, and the least breath of wind would have extinguished it but for the protecting wing.  Before the service was ended he gave his adhesion to the Church. . . . [The man testified:]  “I did not believe in Christ before [the vision] that He was our God and my Saviour.  I had always denied Him, but never again, for I believed then [at the time of the vision].”[20]
A woman who was hostile to the holiness revival, but whose husband was part of “the Church Army,” “began to feel very queer,” saw “the room” where she was become “all dark,” and “it seemed as if the room was full, or like a swarm of bees around [her, and she] heard some sound . . . like the buzzing of bees,” and then saw her “four children [who] had died in infancy . . . singing the hymn, ‘O Paradise,’” and then “saw the children again and Jesus Christ . . . [a]s natural as you see Him on a picture[21] . . . behind them, and the children said, ‘Crown Him, Mam,’[22] and they disappeared.”  As a consequence she “has been quite a different woman and is present in all the services.”[23]  A boy whose father was far away testified:  “I distinctly saw my father in the [revival] service [in  a vision].  He knelt alongside of me and looked at me with a pitiful face and said, ‘My dear boy, pray for me.’ . . . I had never taken religion very seriously before, but I do now.”[24]  Another man’s testimony was noteworthy:
[He saw] a faint light playing over his head.  As it came nearer it increased in size . . . he saw . . . a man’s body in a shining robe.  The figure had wings . . . every feather in the wings . . . was heavenly beyond description. . . . [I]t did not touch the ground.  He looked at the hand and saw the prints of the wounds . . . recognized Him as Jesus . . . [and] shouted—“O my Jesus,” and the figure ascended . . . on His wing . . . out of sight.[25]  He felt filled with love, and from that time he can love every one without difference.[26] 
A lady felt that she had been cut off from God until she saw a “vision of Christ in his kingly robes . . . that had set all right.”[27]  At another meeting people were filled with “agony . . . men and women jumping in their seats . . . others testifying that they had received the Holy Spirit, and one person said, ‘Don’t try to understand this, but throw yourself into it.  It surpasseth all understanding.’”  Another who “did not believe much in the Revival” was turned into an advocate by marvels:
[He was] caught in his hat and began walking down the staircase, when he was instantaneously knocked (as it were) unconscious.  He ran down the stair, and he then jumped five of the steps to the floor[.] . . . He looked like a madman . . . and shouted out, “Here is reality to-night.” . . . [H]e ran into the chapel, and on by the pulpit.  He jumped on top of a seat, and he threw his hat with all his might up towards the ceiling of the church, and with a loud voice [gave out his experience.]  “It is above all understanding,” he said.  He remained partly unconscious for a fortnight . . . and he saw a vision of a place beautifully white, and a voice came to him that God would be his refuge and strength. . . . He was moved by the Spirit twice after this fortnight to unconsciousness.  How he escaped from injury while jumping and passing across seats was marvellous . . . he received such physical strength that he thought he could move away a tremendous weight.[28]
Another man, at a holiness revival meeting, testified:
I had a thrill through my body, causing great pain.  I cried bitterly; why, I don’t know. . . . [For a few days] I felt great pain, and . . . I lost all appetite for food. . . . [at a] prayer meeting . . . there was great agony through my body.  Why, I know not.  But it remained through the week. . . . I prayed unto God to forgive my sins and reveal unto me Himself.  I don’t remember the prayer.  I lost all consciousness that night. . . . I perspired very much, so that I thought that water had been thrown over me. . . . A voice told me that [a particular person was] in the meeting to-night by the door.  And I said, ‘No, he is not here[.’] . . . Then the voice told me the second time exactly the same words, and I answered him back[.] . . . I was astonished when I found [out that the voice was] true.  Had the voice only told me once, I would [not] have believed . . . but when I heard the voice the second time, I was surprised [and found out what it said was true]. . . . [M]y body lost all its pain on that Saturday night . . . [and] I am happier than ever[.][29]
By means of such visions, voices, excitements, and marvels—rather than by means of clear preaching of the gospel—vast numbers were professedly converted.[30]




[1]              Pgs. 5-6, The Pentecostal Movement, Donald Gee.
[2]              Pgs. 77-78, The Awakening in Wales, Jessie Penn-Lewis.
[3]              Pgs. 22-23, 100, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.
[4]              Pg. 87, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.  Capitalization reproduced from the original.
[5]              Pg. 249, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[6]              Pg. 73, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[7]              Pgs. 136-137, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[8]              Pg. 139, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[9]              Pg. 89, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[10]            Pgs. 55-56, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[11]            Scripture teaches that no mortal is a Vicar; such a title demeans the glory of the Son of God.
[12]          Pgs. 93-94, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[13]            Pgs. 135-138, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905); cf. Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and the many other prohibitions in Scripture on contact with the dead.
[14]            Pg. 137, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[15]          Pgs. 94-95, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[16]            Of course, hypocrisy is very wicked and should in no wise be condoned.
[17]          Pgs. 94-95, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[18]            Pg. 17, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Brynmor P. Jones.  Another vision received by Jenkins was connected to the events that led to Evan Roberts beginning to see visions himself and commencing his revivalistic course (pgs. 58-60, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead).
[19]            While in Scripture the cherubim and seraphim have wings, no angel is said to be winged.
[20]            Pgs. 95-96, 123-124, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[21]            Pictures of Christ are idolatry and a violation of the second commandment, for “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures” (2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, 22:1; Exodus 20:4-6).
[22]            While the children in her vision commanded this woman to crown Jesus Christ, the Bible never tells Christians to crown Him, since the one who crowns another has authority over the one who is crowned.  As the eternal Son of God, Christ has reigned from eternity and will reign immutably to eternity (Hebrews 1:8-10), so nobody crowns Him, while as the God-Man, the Father exalted Christ as Mediator at the time of His ascension (cf. Psalm 110), so that, while the terminology of crowning Christ is not even used in connection with the ascension, the Father’s exaltation of the Son of Man is the closest thing to such an affirmation in Scripture.  The dead children, therefore, tell the woman to do something that is contrary to the Bible.
[23]          Pgs. 93, 130-133, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[24]            Pg. 125, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[25]            Since the Lord Jesus Christ does not have wings, this man did not see the Jesus who is the Son of God, but another “Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4); and the fact that he felt certain emotions as a result of his supernatural experience is no reason whatsoever for thinking that his experiences came from the Holy Spirit of God.
[26]            Pgs. 95-96, 139-141, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).  Further details, unpleasant to repeat to those who rejoice to spiritually see Jesus by faith rather than seeking after His physical appearance, in accordance with the fact that even those who “have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth [must] know . . . him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16), have been omitted.  It is worth noting that the Apostle Paul testified that he was the “last of all” to see a bodily appearance of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8).
[27]            Pg. 56, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.
[28]            Pgs. 127-128, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[29]            Pgs. 129-130, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[30]            Further records of visions appear on pgs. 95, 100, etc., of Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.

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