I began What I think about "the Florida revival" with this admission:
I don't know anything about it specifically. Not one thing. Haven't read an article, haven't listened to an anecdote, haven't heard a podcast or sermon or phone-in commenter. I think a friend said something in an email... but I've forgotten it.Then I claimed that I was proceeding this way for a specific reason, and challenged my readers to figure out what that reason might be. Most who tried at least got pretty near to fingering it, but left enough unsaid that I decided to devote a post to an explanation. Whereupon commenter Trogdor promptly wrote this:
There are objective standards in God's word by which we must test whether a 'movement' or 'revival' is truly a work of God. These standards are to be applied across all boundaries, denominations, etc. By remaining ignorant of specific Florida happenings, you were hoping to show that your application of these standards is not based on anything specific about that movement, but are universal - you'd be asking the same questions if the reports were coming from Phil or Frank. The genesis of these questions was not from any reports of wrongdoing; it's in the unchangeable standard of God's word.This answer is alarmingly accurate. So much so, that I paused a moment to make sure "Trogdor" wasn't my sock-puppet. But I knew he couldn't be. I could never have been that concise.
So let's just trace the path of a Christian's growth, from pre- to maturity, and then locate this on that map:
- We start out wrong about everything important. We have an innate sense of God, but we suppress and pervert it (Romans 1:1-32). We're dead and blind (Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19). In this condition, even if we hear the Word of God, nothing savingly significant happens (Matthew 13:4-7, 18-22).
- God sovereignly gives us life (Ephesians 2:5), causes His word to be life to us (1 Peter 1:23-25), enables us to see what we had been unable to see (2 Corinthians 4:3-6), and saves us by grace through faith as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-10).
- Thus awakened and made alive, we respond to God's word in faith (Romans 10:17), yoke ourselves to Christ in repentant faith (Matthew 11:28-30; Acts 11:18; 17:31), in witness to which we are baptized (Acts 2:38) and committed to a lifelong process of learning His word (Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32).
- Our goal then becomes to grow to maturity in and unto Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16; 2 Peter 3:18).
- Specifically, what this maturity looks like involves (among other things) a grounded stability in God's revealed truth that is resistant to the gusty winds of fad and fashion (Ephesians 4:13-14), and a well-practiced adeptness in the Word of God that enables us to assess, discern, and judge right from wrong, good from evil, and truth from falsehood (Hebrews 4:12; 5:14).
His hero isn't Indiana Jones, so his motto isn't "I don't know, I'm making this up as I go." His hero is Jesus Christ, whose life was a symphony of pursuit of His Father's will (John 4:34).
And so he doesn't drop his Bible and dance the Headless Chicken Jig every time —
- someone tells a hair-raising barn-burner of a story; or
- some World-Class Scholar (or mega-church pastor) writes a Newest, Greatest, Everything-Must-Change book; or
- popular opinion turns against a truth he's convinced of from Scripture; or
- everyone who's anyone is embracing a teaching he's not convinced of from Scripture; or
- the secular media's fitful fascination lights briefly on some new religious entertainment.
And so that, in a word, is why I thought it worth telling you how I will think about "the Florida revival."
Which, on second thought, would have been a better title.