How much do you want a Christian revival in the West? What would count as one?

While the situation of Christianity in The West is dire, whichever way you look at it, there are places in Africa, Asia (especially China) and in some Arabian countries where Christianity is growing fast and Christians are active, devout, energetic – to the point that the numerical decline of The West is approximately balanced by expansion elsewhere.

This is a litmus test issue, because of the nature of the churches that are growing – on the whole this massive growth is among what is termed ‘Renewalist’ churches – that it to say Pentecostal and Charismatic churches…

Is this growth of Christianity something to be celebrated by Western Christians, despite that it is happening among churches and people who – if they were located in the West – would be regarded with dismay, and indeed strongly disapproved of, by most Christian commentators from most of the major Western denominations?

In a phrase: is the actual worldwide growth of Christianity A Good Thing, or not? …

My impression is that people distinguish between a type of Christianity that is appropriate for African or Chinese in their own nations – and what is appropriate for the West, so they can celebrate growth of types of Christianity in other places that they would argue vehemently against in the West. But with unprecedented world population movements this attitude may not be viable – aside from the fact that it seems evasive to the point of dishonesty.

The question Western Christians need to ask themselves – from their perspective as devout and serious Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, Orthodox, or from being a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon or whatever – is whether they personally would approve of a Western Christian revival IF it was of the same type as actual recent and current Christian growth in other parts of the world?

If Pentecostal and Charismatic churches of many shapes and sizes began to spring up in The West with a focus on personal supernatural experiences – if these churches changed people’s lives, lent them enthusiasm, courage, energy… would you be pleased, or dismayed?

Because such a phenomenon could not be a matter of indifference. Sooner or later you, like everyone, would need to take sides and decide: Are such Christian churches to be encouraged, or suppressed?

Excerpted from:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-litmus-test-what-do-you-think-about.html

17 thoughts on “How much do you want a Christian revival in the West? What would count as one?

  1. Pingback: How much do you want a Christian revival in the West? What would count as one? | Reaction Times

  2. Actually, not all African and Asian Christian groups identify as Pentecostal/charismatic. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is in contact with churches in Ethiopia and South Sudan, for example, that are interested in fellowship with this American church body characterized by doctrinal preaching, liturgy, and emphasis on the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. I’d draw your attention particularly to the second link below; it is quite an interesting little story, of a church departing from the Anglican communion and looking towards affiliating with conservative Lutheranism.

    http://blogs.lcms.org/2014/eecmy-lcms-sign

    http://wmltblog.org/2015/12/bishop-elijah-from-sudan-visit-to-international-center/

    The LCMS is aware of the occurrence of overt spiritual warfare in the Malagasy church described in this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Am-Not-Afraid-Possession-Spiritual/dp/0758641982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450804965&sr=1-1&keywords=i+am+not+afraid

    and doesn’t write this all off as “Pentecostal” excess.

  3. Scenario: Reading Bible verses while handling poisonous snakes becomes a break-out social phenomenon. MTV devotes a reality show to it. Ophidian Christian congregations begin to self-organize across the country. The congregants proclaim that they are tea-total and refuse to recognize civil unions, insisting that marriage can only be genuinely consecrated within the church. A poll shows that Ophidian Christians break Republican two-to-one. Should we resist it or accept it?

  4. I’ve got no particular beef with the Pentecostals & Charismatics. Fact of the matter is that all of the main strains of Christianity right now have severe issues. For the Charismatics, the ditch they’re closest to is the Prosperity Gospel heresy. Other strains have ditches that they’re at least as close to (greasy grace to outright rejection of the whole notion of sin, demotion of Jesus to community organizer at best, etc).

    The thing about the prosperity gospel is that the simple articulation of it happens to be statistically mostly true—e.g., if you mostly follow God’s rules in this particular time and place, you will be more prosperous than if you did not, because God’s rules have the property that they WORK. Similarly, a society that is more Christian will be a higher-trust place, which will make everything more prosperous, even when such doesn’t show up on GDP (as guard labor requirements will be way less). Its when it shades into reducing God into a D&D style vending machine lower-case g god who grants goodies if and only if you’re high enough level/pray hard enough, that it really goes off the rails. Does God answer prayers for goodies? Absolutely, but He does it when He damn well pleases, for reasons that are His own. That God blesses you, heals you, etc or the converse can not be taken as specific evidence that you are righteous or not so. The unchristian notion of karma makes it hard for people to swallow the book of Job.

  5. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2015/12/24 | Free Northerner

  6. despite that it is happening among churches and people who – if they were located in the West – would be regarded with dismay, and indeed strongly disapproved of, by most Christian commentators from most of the major Western denominations?

    I can’t make sense of this at all.

    • Samson,
      What he’s saying is that Charismatics/Pentecostals are considered ‘low class’ when they’re white people in Western countries, and all their foibles will be bashed mercilessly by Churchian types. But when they’re Black or Brown or sometimes even Yellow, they get a free pass by the same.

      • “Foibles?” Some of the stuff that goes on in these Charismatic “churches” is borderline psychotic! Their minor … eccentricities are not the things that bother us.

  7. I don’t want it that much, but it is certainly preferable to the spread of non-Christian and pseudo-Christian religions.

    A.J.P.

  8. @Terry Morris ” Some of the stuff that goes on in these Charismatic “churches” is borderline psychotic! ”

    I expect you are right – although all the mass media reports may well be selecting, distorting and lying, as they have done in other similar instances.

    But every Christian church that I know about had bad people among them, perhaps especially in their early years – committing ‘atrocities’ of one sort or another. If this is sufficient to dismiss the validity of a religion or a church, then nearly all churches must be rejected.

    The other thing about ‘borderline psychotic’ churches, is that this is how all Christians seem to mainstream secular people.

    The question is not whether a particular church or denomination is perfect, since all are very imperfect in various ways – but whether it is *overall* better than what we currently have.

    • Bruce C., yes, sir, I understood your broad point in the O.P., and I think we agree on that. My point in the comment above was to address the term “foibles” as it might relate to some of the more egregious errors common to Pentecostals, but particularly to Charismatics of various denominations. I grew up and was baptized a Oneness Pentecostal. I really don’t know what the mass media is saying about these people, but I do know what I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.

      • Bruce, to add further, the central “proof text” of Oneness Pentecostalism is Acts 2:38, everything else be damned … literally! Oneness Pentecostals *deny the trinity of the Godhead* outright! I can tell you from first-hand experience with adherents very close to me that, to argue that, e.g., Acts 2:38 is not a universal decree, is to argue with a brick wall! Now, how does that work when it comes to generally orthodox, as opposed to Charismatic modes of Christian worship and practice? Well, broadly speaking, charismaticism is embraced as the favorable (amongst the “favored”) mode of worship and teaching. So when you speak of, e.g., getting “drunk on the spirit,” very few, if any, will raise an issue with the equation of drunkenness on alcohol vs. spiritual drunkenness. That’s what I mean in part, but there’s a lot more to it. I can get into some of the rest of it, but it will take some time. …

    • Bruce C., apologies for the late reply, but I’ve actually tried twice to respond to no avail. Allow me to try again, …

      Yes, sir, I understood your broad point in the O.P., and I think we agree on that: it is better to have a polluted Christianity than to have no Christianity, thus no Christian influence, at all. That said, I was really only addressing the use of the word “foibles” above, because it is too nice a term to apply to some of the Charismatic antics I’ve personally witnessed for myself. I don’t really know what the mass media is saying about this stuff, but I do know what I’ve seen with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears, having grown up in a Oneness Pentecostal church with close ties to broader Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement, and alot of it is very unorthodox to say the least!

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