Monday, November 12, 2007

Revive Us Again, O Lord

Iain Murray has described the phenomenon of revial as
"... an outpouring of the Holy Spirit... resulting in a new degree of life in the churches and a widespread movement of grace among the unconverted. It is an extraordinary communication of the Spirit of God, a superabundance of the Spirit’s operations, an enlargement of his manifest power."
A simpler way of puting it would be that a revival is an extraordinary degree of blessing upon the ordinary means of grace.

In his book Revival and Revivalism, Murray argues that a categorical distinction must be made between the revivals of the Great Awakening (c. 1735-1742) and the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening (c. 1820-1830s). The leaders of the former - men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield - were staunch Calvinists, while the latter was led by none other than the outspoken Pelagian Charles Grandison Finney.

Critics of Murray argue that, while the theology of the first Great Awakening was undoubtedly preferable to that of the second, the seeds of excess and anti-ecclesiastical fanaticism were sown long before Finney rode into town.

So what do you think? Is Murray's thesis legitimate? Does revival, despite its abuses, have a genuine place in Reformed ecclesiology?