|Photo from: JuicyEcumenism.com|
As a former student of Asbury Theological Seminary, I have been asked to weigh-in on the event taking place at Asbury College that is being framed as a revival. Especially now that it has been repeated at other colleges. I had planned to post the list, however, it changes frequently, and I can't find a news source that I fully feel I can trust in regards to accuracy. Just Google.
First, I will explain a very important distinction. Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) and Asbury College (AC), while literally, across the street from each other, are not connected by the same structural organizations that run them. Now, that is not to say there is a total separation. Many students at ATS are graduates of AC and some of the faculty are as well. Both schools are non-denominational, evangelical Christian schools affiliated with the Wesleyan-Holiness movement. The desire for revival is in their DNA.
Second, I will explain why I attended ATS as a NON evangelical Christian. First of all, I do respect the holiness side of my Wesleyan understanding as a United Methodist. It was less expensive, it had more access to online courses. When I began seminary, I was a mother of four children, ages 5, 6, 16 and 18. I was there from the '04/'06 school year through the '07/'08 year. I graduated in 2008 after completing one last course that summer. Like many perspective, United Methodist people on the ordination track, we either attend, Asbury, Memphis Theological (Presbyterian) or Vanderbilt (Interdenominational) for seminary to obtain the required Mdiv degree. In my conference the majority take this route for various reasons. I would have preferred Duke or Perkins but it was not a possibility for our family.
A little revival history regarding AC: They claim to have had similar revivals in 1905, 1908, 1921, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1992 and 2006. I was on campus in 2006 and really don't remember anything very exciting taking place. The 1970 revival is one that is spoken of often and honestly we were encouraged at ATS to enter into a prayer life that would re-create a similar event. There was slight pressure.
What is a revival? Practically, it is what happens AFTER an event takes place that revives those that follow Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. The effects of the revival are seen in the movement of those revived following this time of prayer, worship and transformation by the Holy Spirit. The time of intense prayer, worship and transformation if just the beginning. It isn't a true revival if people are not sent forth in ministry, mission and discipleship in the hurting world.
Do I believe that the Holy Spirit can inspire, transform or heal people? ABSOLUTELY. Romans 8:11 basically tells us that believers have the same Spirit within us that raise Jesus Christ from the dead. So yes, I believe these Asbury students can receive many wonderful attributes, much needed for ministry and life, during this time. I believe that ALL believers have this same access to the Holy Spirit that reads within them. A large event is not needed for this Holy Spirit moment for people.
I also believe that God IS science. So if someone feels, during this time of prayer, that their pain is gone, or they are euphoric, I know that hyper-emotionalism can cause adrenaline to manifest within a person creating pain relief and exhilaration. Is it God? I believe it can be God, using the way we are made to reach God's created.
Is there danger in revival? There can be, in this case, there are people that are trying and will co-opt this moment for political and denominational agendas. I applaud both the college and the seminary in Wilmore for attempting to keep these students safe from predators and charlatans. However, I have-not heard what is happening in that regard in all the "pop-up" revivals across the US.
But here is my official weigh-in: Will there be fruit? John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." YOU WILL PRODUCE MUCH FRUIT. Let's see the fruit that blooms over the next days, weeks, months...even years. The only fruit cannot just be passionate worship, prayer and a personal "filling of the Holy Spirit" or then is is for their own personal satisfaction, not for the mission of Christ, a call to action to be a healing presence of transformation in the lives of others.
So we must wait, watch and see.