Friday, December 14, 2018

Evan Roberts: Destroyer of Welsh Baptist Churches, Part 21 of 22


The pastor of the Baptist church at Builth Wells wrote to Mr. Price:
Permit me to thank you for your frank and straightforward speaking . . . on the “Double Revival.” . . . For some time I have longed to see someone who resided in the zone of fire, to rise and repudiate the gross excrescences which are passing for the real thing in the Revival in Wales.  It is something monstrously base to tolerate without protest the barbarous falsehoods that are being accepted in the name of Christianity.  My Dear Sir, we are in for one of the greatest religious siftings that Wales ever experienced. . . . From all sane and thinking men, who love true Religion and who try to augment its forces with intelligent thought, you will only receive the gratitude you merit.
        God bless you for your stand and bravery. I shall . . . accumulate facts . . . and join you in your fight for true Christianity.[1]
Indeed, as time passed, not only those who had been critical of Roberts’s practices from the beginning, but “even sympathetic ministers felt the Word was being dethroned and the singing too exalted . . . [in] Evan Roberts’ work. . . . [G]ood men, and . . . godly . . . were seen looking very frowningly upon the . . . Revival, critically and reprovingly too[.]”[2]  For example, the Baptist minister Dr. Davies thought much of Roberts’s ministry was “mass hysteria.”[3]  Other ministers object[ed] to the visions seen and to women leading in public prayer, exhortation, and testifying.[4]  Advocates of the true revival rejected Roberts’s disregard of preaching and refused to stop preaching and teaching God’s Word.[5]  While Bible-believing Baptists were among the strongest critics, “official disapproval was not confined to the Baptists, and one c[ould] find strong words from . . . leaders in other denominations.”[6]  Many objected when people would burst into song, or prayer, or testimony in the middle of the sermon, or sometimes from the start of the service so that the preacher could only listen.[7]  Many of the ministers did not preach for months,[8] and large numbers recognized that such a downgrade of the preached Word was totally unscriptural.  Even “[g]rumblings about the inferior quality of the new revival hymns grew louder and louder.”[9]  People warned that the “flippancy manifested, especially by the young and others who had just [adopted revivalistic ideas] . . . helped to kill the [real] Revival,”[10] the revival that had been going on before and apart from the work of Evan Roberts.[11]  Many noticed that “the conversions in the chapels attended by Evan Roberts were fewer than in the chapels where he was not present.”[12]  The true “Revival . . . transfigured many individual souls . . . [who] never saw Evan Roberts . . . never had . . . tumultuous gatherings . . . [but] owe[d] all that [they were] to the agency of [their] own pastor.”[13]  Criticism poured in, affirming:
In the present revival, the Bible is ignored, and it is claimed that visions and new revelations are received . . . the elders are condemned as heretics if they do not yield, and conform to the methods of the young [cf. 1 Peter 5:5].  The officers of the churches are at present ignored, although they have been set apart in office by the churches; thus, the Apostles of the Lamb are ignored; the hand of God is ignored; the Holy Spirit is ignored; and that by some other spirit that has possessed our young people.[14]
Evan Roberts’s claims to direct Spirit guidance were considered “profane, and his visions blasphemous, because he was not, as were the Apostles, endowed with Spirit gifts, [proven in] healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind,”[15] and other Apostolic miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12).  Baptist leaders in Gwent considered various practices of Roberts “unseemly and disorderly,” while “senior ministers and laymen in Pembrokeshire . . . were responsible for the early opposition of the Welsh Baptists there.”[16]  One “fervent Baptist minister . . . split a revival meeting” by stating the obvious truth, clearly taught by the Holy Ghost in Scripture and patterned in the real revival in the book of Acts, that “baptism by the Spirit did not dispense with the need for water baptism. . . . [He] carried on his attack on the revivalists for preaching obedience to the Spirit yet not practicing that virtue by being baptized themselves.”[17]  The newspaper “Y Celt Newydd . . . sounded a warning note about voices and visions and the danger they posed to true revival.”[18]  Many church leaders . . . disavowed the work of Roberts and “oppose[d] . . . signs and wonders . . . [v]isions, voices, spiritual promptings, [and] inspired prayers.”[19]  They believed that it was a serious error to stress “signs rather than faith . . . psychic and bodily experiences rather than the Word of God . . . ecstasies in special meetings rather than . . . simple, quiet and consistent obedience to the Spirit of the One who is in us.”[20]  In rural Wales, the “response of the Baptists . . . to the revival [work of Evan Roberts] was initially very cautious.  The editor of the local Baptist journal, Y Piwritan Newydd (‘The New Puritan’) . . . stated that he could not go along with the mode of activity in some meetings[,]”[21] as various aspects of the revivalism were “sure to be working against Baptist principles.”[22]  Indeed, Baptist church membership had been increasing for many years prior to the work of Evan Roberts, with Baptist membership increasing by 24,000 in 1905 the largest rate of increase; similarly, in 1905 Independents increased by 12,000 and the Calvinistic Methodists increased by just under 16,000.  Baptist critics of Roberts affirmed that genuine growth in the kingdom and church and genuine revival were overcome by the false revivalism of Roberts and his followers.  “[T]here c[ould] be no doubt . . . [t]hat Evan Roberts did repel, that he quenched rather than inflamed the Revival flame in many districts[.]  Evidence of this fact abounds, and is indisputable.”[23]  While the revivals in the book of Acts led to the continued multiplication of churches for many years, after the revivalism of Roberts had finished its course Independent and Calvinistic Methodist membership began to decline in 1906, followed by the beginning of membership decline in 1907 for the Baptists.[24]  With the ascendency of Keswick and continuationist doctrine and the revivalism of Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis, “decline set in so quickly after the revival’s end”—a fact which “did not augur well for the future of Nonconformity in Wales.”[25]  Indeed, a decades-long decline set in almost immediately after Roberts finished his revivalistic course, as many years of steady growth among Baptists and evangelical Protestants was transformed to decades of decline.






[1]              Pg. 158, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[2]              Pgs. 124, 262, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[3]              Pg. 251, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[4]              Pg. 259, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[5]              Pg. 55, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  (Asheville, NC:  Revival Publications, 1950).
[6]              Pg. 261, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[7]              Pg. 262, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[8]              Pg. 42, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[9]              Pg. 264, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[10]            Pg. 35, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[11]            Pgs. 11, 17, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  Asheville, NC:  Revival Literature, 1950.
[12]            Pg. 77, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[13]            Pgs. 259-262, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[14]            Pg. 262, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[15]            Pgs. 270-271, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[16]            Pg. 260, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[17]            Pg. 261, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[18]            Pg. 257, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[19]            Pg. 275, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[20]            Pg. 276, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[21]            Pg. 92, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[22]            Pg. 261, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[23]            Pg. 49, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[24]            Pg. 529, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Pope.
[25]            Pg. 529, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Pope.

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