Random thoughts on the Asbury Revival:

          This event is like a rain barrel. Looking into it, mostly what you see is your own somewhat distorted reflection. Consider the ecstatic reaction from some and the vitriolic reaction from others. It’s not that “You have to be there.” It’s that wherever you are, you’re going to see from that point of view, and nothing is likely to change your mind.

          Yes, it’s God working in the lives of these people. What God is doing, I can’t say.

          The real test of any revival is what happens afterward. If the lives of the people involved are not significantly changed, there was no revival, just a momentary emotional high for those involved. Emotional highs are fine. But revival ought to mean repentance – that is, change of mind and heart.

          The revival started Feb. 8 at Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. It is a Christian college with Methodist roots. It’s across the street from Asbury Theological Seminary, which trains pastors for ministry in the United Methodist Church.

It started after a regular chapel service. Some students just stayed rather than moving on. They sang songs. They prayed. They wept. They shared testimonies. When somebody started preaching, they listened. It appears to have been a joyful but not overly dramatic event.

          The university basically shut the revival down as of Monday afternoon, Feb. 20. Students only from now on. Apparently the university and the town are overwhelmed by the public response. It also looks to me like the typical reaction of university bigwigs to any spontaneous activity of students that attracts attention: “Shut it down!”

          Some people wonder why it’s happening at Asbury. Well, it’s happened there several tunes before, most recently in 1970. You have to recognize that Asbury is a religious university. A revival is far more likely to happen there than at a secular land grant college. It’s a cultural thing. To have a “revival,” there must be something present for you to revive. It’s an organic thing. The Holy Spirit travels where the Spirit wills, but revivals don’t just happen randomly.

          No question that American churches need a revival. Many are reeling from the effects of the epidemic. Many people who stayed home to stay safe are now staying home for other reasons. Maybe they prefer live-streamed worship. Maybe they have concluded that they don’t need church anymore.

          Yes, American churches need a revival. The toxicity of “evangelical” political involvement has turned off millions. Talk of “Christian nationalism” makes many people sick to their stomachs. (It’s a total contradiction. John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved America that God gave God’s only Son…”)

          Hovering in the back of everyone’s mind: A restless and uncertain present, and shaky visions of the future. A horrible war in Ukraine. Vicious dictators in Russia, North Korea and China. Threats of worldwide terror. Threats of worldwide calamity because of climate change. American politics in torment. George Santos is all too typical.

Yes, we need a revival. Yes, we need God. Maybe some real good can come from this Asbury thing. That’s what I’m praying for. How about you?

          If you want to check it out, try this website:

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