While Pentecostals, feminists, and advocates of ecumenicalism had much to cherish from the work of Evan Roberts, his work had many critics among Baptists and other advocates of the older orthodoxy and theology of revival. Critics of Evan Roberts affirmed that his work was destroying a genuine revival movement in
that had already been taking
place, “particularly, though not exclusively, among the Baptists . . . prior to
Roberts beginning his mission.” They
thought that “[d]elusions and extravagances in various forms were countenanced
and even fostered . . . the wave of inordinate emotionalism with its
accompanying evils . . . undoubtedly was one of the causes that silenced the
Spirit, and drove [Him] from among the people.” They argued that “violent bodily exercises .
. . contortions and prostrations . . . did not possess any specific spiritual
value, and did not convey any moral lesson[,] [nor left any] salutary
impression . . . behind[,] [but were] the weakness of man rather than the power
of God.” For example, Roberts’s opponents affirmed his
work “sounded the death-knell of the Revival in the Wales . The flame was there, but it was
extinguished. The tide began to ebb, and
ebb it did; and the last state of that Church is worse than the first.” At “Zoar, Neath,” church leaders and
congregants averred, “[Roberts] has spoilt our meeting,” as “people seemed to
have turned their faces away from God, and were looking to the Revivalist.” In “[n]umerous other instances . . . vast
multitudes . . . [experienced] the Revival wave, feeling that they were face to
face with the realities of life, conscious of the Divine presence in their
midst, only to be told by Evan Roberts within five minutes of his appearance
that the Holy Spirit was not there, because they
had hindered His operations and refused to give obedience.” The “ Avan Valley Tabernacle
on the Hayes, ”
was a “case in point” of the fact that “in the majority of cases [Roberts’s]
appearances had a dispiriting effect.
Many were converted who had neither seen nor heard Evan Roberts; and
some of the most successful meetings were held in the districts and towns to
which Evan Roberts had refused to go on the ground that the Holy Spirit had not
given him any message for them.” In those “Nonconformist places of worship
where the ministers and elders were strong and wise enough to curb the . . .
impulsive and excitable . . . and to keep the movement within due and proper
limits[,] . . . [t]housands were converted, and the vast majority of them
remain[ed] faithful[.]” Roberts was influenced by “the Keswick
movement and holiness teaching” and his theology of revival placed him “in the
same camp as the American revivalist, Charles G. Finney;” his beliefs were, consequently, in contrast
to and “beyond the tradition of the Welsh revivals” of the past, which had held
a notably different theology of revival, affirming that it was “wholly
dependent on the grace of God.” Cardiff
The evangelical Congregationalist minister Peter Price “believed a genuine revival was taking place apart from Roberts’ activities” and “stated that Roberts’s emphasis on direct and unmediated divine inspiration denied the need for the objective preaching of the person and work of Christ and so created ‘a sham revival,’ which was hindering ‘the true revival’ that had long preceded Roberts’s work.” For example, “for nearly two years the Revival flame was ablaze in Cardiganshire . . . before Evan Roberts was heard of . . . and it was a pure work of God in that county. That pure stream became impure under the hoof of the enemy” as Roberts’s methods took hold. In Price’s important “letter to the Western Mail . . . he wrote that there were two revivals in Wales, one a true revival based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ and the other a sham revival based on emotionalism for which Evan Roberts was the major spokesman.” Price wrote:
I write the following in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and because I sympathize with visitors who come from long distances to see the Revival in
Now, I think I can claim that I have had as good an opportunity as most people to understand what is really going on in
South Wales; and I have come to the conclusion that there
are two so-called Revivals going on amongst us.
The one, undoubtedly, from above—Divine, real, intense in nature, and
Cymric in its form. . . . the real
Divine thing. . . .
[But] people . . . may attempt to make the thing, and lo! there comes out a calf and not a God. . . . Those who will do this are the shallow ones, the noisy ones, those who think themselves filled the most with the Spirit, but who are the least. They are, in fact, the imitators, who say, “There’s something wrong here. The Spirit is not here. I have had a vision[”] . . . the stock sayings of Evan Roberts . . . [also] repeated . . . by . . . [his] imitators[.] . . . Others may be found imitating his bodily contortions, sighs, etc. This mimicry is . . . done by the would-be Evan Robertses quite as much for their own sakes as for the sake of their visitors. Breaking into song while another prays, or speaks, or preaches, is another form of the attempt to imitate Evan Roberts’s meetings.
But these things are merely the accidents of the true Revival, and form no part of its kernel. For there is a kernel, which is overwhelming in its Divine power, and many thousands have experienced it, and there are ample signs that many thousands more will be touched by it.
There is, then, a Revival which is of God—of God alone—yes, a most mighty—an Almighty Revival . . . due to the earnest prayers of godly men and women for many years, and also to the extremely earnest preaching of the Gospel, emphasizing especially the Atonement, meaning by the Atonement the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.
Some preachers, again, laid great emphasis upon the Person and ministry of the Holy Ghost. Others, again, gave attention to the ethical aspect of our religion, but with less effect, in my opinion, as far as the present Revival is concerned. I have witnessed bursts of this real Revival as far back as two years ago. I understand that there are several would-be originators of the Revival; but I maintain that the human originator of the true Revival cannot be named. And this, to me, is one of the proofs that it is of Divine origin. I have witnessed indescribable scenes of this real Revival, effects that can never be put on paper. Hence, I have a right to say that the real Revival has not been and cannot be reported.
But there is another Revival in
Wales—a sham Revival, a mockery, a blasphemous travesty of the
real thing. The chief figure in this
mock Revival is Evan Roberts, whose language is inconsistent with the character
of anyone except that of a person endowed with the attributes of a Divine
Being. If not, what is he? Are there four persons in the Godhead, and is
Evan Roberts the fourth? If so, I would
call him the Commander of the Third Person, or the Master of the Spirit, for
the . . . words which I myself heard from him on Monday night last at Bethania
Chapel, Dowlais. The Spirit being
somewhat reluctant to obey him, he said, “He must come”; but the Spirit (of
whom he talked most glibly, just as a child speaks of its toy, but somewhat
more off-handedly) would not obey the orders. . . . [H]e spoke as if the Spirit
was entirely in his grip . . . judging by his behaviour and talk, the Holy
Spirit is led by Evan Roberts!
My honest conviction is this; that the best thing that could happen to the cause of the true religious Revival amongst us would be for Evan Roberts and his girl-companions to withdraw into their respective homes, and there to examine themselves, and learn a little more of the meaning of Christianity, if they have the capacity for this, instead of going about the country pretending to show the Way of Life to people many of whom know a thousand times more about it than they do. Why, we have scores of young colliers in Dowlais with whom Evan Roberts is not to be compared either in intellectual capacity or spiritual power.
But it is this mock Revival—this exhibition—this froth—this vain trumpery—which visitors see and which newspapers report. And it is harmful to the true Revival—very harmful. And I am horrified lest people who trust to what they see at Evan Roberts’s meetings and to newspaper reports should identify the two Revivals—the true and the false—the Heavenly fire and the ignis fatuus.
Before Evan Roberts visited Dowlais, we had the holy fire burning brightly—at white heat; and at my own church alone we could count our converts during the last five or six months by the hundreds. But what happened when Evan Roberts visited the place? People came from all parts anxious to see the man, to understand something of the movement, and to get some of the fire to take home with them. I suppose that most of them did see the man; but I doubt whether they understood the movement—even the mock movement. They had no chance to understand the true movement, nor had they a chance of catching any of the true fire, for it wasn’t there. I will say that with much effort Evan Roberts, together with his co-operators (and, evidently, they understand one another thoroughly, and each knew his or her part well and where to come in), managed, by means of threats, complaints and incantations, which reminded me of the prophets of Baal, to create some of the false fire. But never in my life did I experience such agony—the whole procedure being utterly sacrilegious. I should say that Evan Roberts must have seen and felt that he was a failure at Dowlais; but to cover the circumstance of failure, there appeared in the paper, after he had proved himself so, a prophecy concerning certain misgivings of his as to whether he ought to have undertaken a mission to Dowlais.
I should like to ask Evan Roberts a few questions; I have many more which I might ask; but I will be satisfied now with a few: . . . He said that there was someone in the lobby who was accepting Christ; but no one did. What Spirit told him this lie? . . . Why does he wait until the meetings attain the climax of enthusiasm before he enters? If help is valuable at any stage, is it not mostly so at the commencement, in order to kindle the fire? . . . Why does he visit places where the fire has been burning at maximum strength for weeks and months? Would it not be more reasonable for him to go to places which the fire has not reached? . . . What spirit makes him bad-tempered when things don’t come about exactly as he wishes? . . . What spirit makes him say, “Ask God to damn the people if you don’t ask anything else?”
“Yes, but he has a lovely face and a beautiful smile,” so some women say. This is the last resort.
May I repeat that I have written the above in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and out of sympathy with visitors who come to see the Revival. I may have to suffer persecution for writing the above—even by Spirit-filled (!) men; but I don’t seek the renown of the martyr; still, if martyrdom for the truth be necessary, I am ready. To the true Revival—the gloriously real Revival—I will say and pray with all my soul,
“Cerdd ymlaen, nefol dân”
But to the bogus Revival I will say with all my soul,
“Cerdd yn ol, gnawdol dân.”
Peter Price, January 31, 1905
Thus, in the view of Price and other advocates of the older theology of revival, a real “Revival, of which [Roberts] was not the originator, not the medium, and not the feeder,” had already been going on. “There had been for months and years—there were even then [at the height of Roberts’s work]—influences at work that were independent of [Roberts’s] initiative or control,” influences for real revival. After all, “the Revival reached almost every nook and corner in the [Welsh] Principality, whilst the ministry of [Evan Roberts] was, with little exception, entirely exercised within one of its twelve counties. The fire burned in places which he did not and could not visit; in [various] places which he did visit the fire was already blazing ere he came.” What Evan Roberts contributed was a false revivalism that was quenching the genuine work of God:
Evan Roberts had no controlling or constructive influence over the real Revival[,] . . . [but] was out of touch with [it]. . . . This [real Revival] . . . was the result of spiritual forces that had been quietly at work for years. . . . Evan Roberts was . . . the embodiment of the . . . rubbish . . . the waves of hysteria . . . [and] psychic manifestations . . . [that] were looked upon as necessary adjuncts to a successful meeting, and became at last, in the estimation of the press and the public, the characteristic marks of the Revival.As fanaticism and revivalism displaced true revival produced by the Holy Ghost, “Evan Roberts . . . [became] the central figure in the Revival of 1904-5; but he was not its originator, much less its conceiver.” Price “by no means st[ood] alone in his attitude. . . . Many other ministers share[d] his opinions . . . [about] ‘the sham Revival’ . . . of which . . . Mr. Evan Roberts [was] the chief exponent,” hindering the “real Revival” that had been going on. Thus, “thousands of sane, righteous people fully endorsed the opinions of Price . . . many eminent, spiritually-minded pastors and laymen agreed[.]”
For more on Evan Roberts, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and the Welsh Holiness Revival of 1904-1905, see the study on the topic on this webpage.
 Pg. 517, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Robert Pope. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57:3 (July 2006) 515-534.
 Pg. 141, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 238, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 51, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 53, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pgs. 53-54, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan. Italics in original.
 Pg. 77, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pgs. 113-114, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan. Unfortunately, Morgan mentions that such Nonconformist churches were a minority; the majority that fell under the influence of Evan Roberts and his methods were central in the decline in Welsh Nonconformity after the passing of the holiness revival.
 Pg. 520, “Demythologizing the Evan Roberts Revival,” Pope. Affirming that revival is wholly dependent upon the grace of God does not mean that God does not answer the prayers of His people for revival; rather, it recognizes that even such prayers, and not answers to them only, are a product of His grace. At the same time, the confession of R. B. Jones is noteworthy:
Of course, it goes without telling that, like every other Revival, this also had its springs in prayer. . . . No axiom seems surer than that. At the same time, if one is asked to probe the praying that lay back of the Revival of 1904, that is, such praying as would seem adequate to account for the tremendous things that followed, one would be compelled to confess inability. Doubtless, there were those in
who pleaded for Revival, and, there was also the universal praying for Revival
that belongs peculiarly to th year 1902.
Beyond this the writer has knowledge of nothing in the form of adequate
prayer that might explain the copious showers that fell. (pg. 22, Rent Heavens: The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd.
ed. Wales : Revival Literature, 1950) Asheville, NC
 Pg. 231, The Making of the
Modern Church: Christianity in since 1800, B. G.
 Pg. 555, “Evan Roberts,” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.
 Pg. 112, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan; cf. pg. 116-117 for other examples of revival before Evan Roberts. Other men began to copy the practices of Evan Roberts. “These men . . . followed Evan Roberts from place to place, picked up his platitudes and broken sentences, [and] went about the country repeating them and imitating his methods and contortions. Thus it was that some of the finest elements in our Christian religion, so far from being strengthened in this Revival, were actually discouraged. So great was the passion for results that men forgot what was due to reverence and even to decency. Sensationalism was consecrated” (pg. 140, Ibid).
 Pg. 525, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Robert Pope. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57:3 (July 2006) 515-534; also D. J. Roberts, Peter Price,
1968, pgs. 90-109. Swansea
 Welsh in language or culture, from the Welsh Cymru “
,” Cymry, “the Welsh,” etc. Wales
 See The Western Mail, February 1-6, 11, 1905. The Welsh portion of his letter desires heavenly fire and wishes for the end of sensual fire.
Price’s letter is reproduced on pgs. 141-145 of The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan, who also includes readers’ responses (both positive and negative) to Price. Pages 146-154 record opposition to Price by partisans of Roberts, who made statements such as that “Mr. Roberts . . . without doubt is inspired,” is “the mouthpiece of the Living God,” and is “a prophet of the present age,” while Price is a “mean, jealous, [sic] cad, whose actions are too contemptible to find words for,” who must be “a shareholder in a Brewery,” since “Jesus Christ don’t want [sic] us to judge and point out things” and Price should be “warn[ed] . . . against the awful harm you are doing even if you are right [emphasis in original].” Price was said to be “blasphem[ing] the Holy Ghost,” and he was commanded to “ask God to forgive you and to save you” since he is “not a Christian,” not “born again,” and one whose letter “will . . . land you into Hell [sic]” which will “burn your never dying soul.”
Positive responses to Price (pgs. 154-161) included the following: “I feel there is a sad deficiency in the leading of Mr. E. Roberts besides doubtful teaching from a scriptural point of view.” Another comments: “Sir—I am in entire sympathy with you in the noble stand you have made in the interest of 1.) Pure Christianity 2.) Moral Courage and 3.) Sincerity.” A third states: “[T]here are hundreds today who believe the same [as you] but have not the courage to openly and frankly admit so[,] and honestly Evan Roberts is a great stumbling block to this Revival as we at Treorky found to our cost when we had him. He placed a damper on every Meeting,” Another responds: “Your remark about E. R. as in command of the Holy Spirit . . . I have often denounced as blasphemous and also [something that] would drive the weak minded insane and the doubters to unbelief.” Someone else wrote: “You have won the admiration of hundreds of fellow Christians (if that matters any) by your dauntless courage. Oh that the virtue of having the courage to express one’s convictions were one that was not so rare.”
 Pg. 57, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 17, Rent Heavens: The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.
: Revival Literature, 1950. Asheville, NC
 Pgs. 68-69, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 112, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
 Pg. 181, “The Revival in
,” A. T. Fryer. The
East and the West: A Quarterly Review
for the Study of Missions. (1905) 174-188. Wales
 Pg. 270-271, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.