The fact is that a sound and lively truth-basis has been ejected from the premises of modern evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has been dispossessed of truth to such an extent that it is becoming frightening. In its place experience and mysticism are house-sitting the church or, if not these, then church growth pragmatism or an unhealthy preoccupation with the psychological. But the necessary doctrines of the holiness of God and His just wrath, justification by faith alone, the transforming nature of regeneration, the sovereignty of God over all of creation and in salvation itself, the nature and extent of grace in justification and in sanctification – doctrines upon which the earlier revivals thrived – have been considered unimportant and useful only for wizened old theologs holed up in ivory towers who do not relate to the church’s future.
Quite simply, it is a fact of history that the church of Christ has not experienced any major nationwide revival under the conditions of advanced modernity. On the other hand, modernity undercuts true dependence on God’s sovereign awakening by fostering the notion that we can effect revival by human means. On the other hand, modernity makes many people satisfied with privatized, individualistic, and subjective experiences that are pale counterfeits of true revival.
As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.
Is it any wonder the love of tradition is an enemy to revival? Revival and new life go hand in hand… Let every church realize that the inordinate love of tradition is a great opponent to revival… When a church slays the love of tradition, a major obstacle to revival will be slain with it.
Sometimes we are inclined to think that a very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have know their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father’s house, and never making him say, “Father, I have sinned”
We say we want revival…but on our terms. Sadly, we pray:
1. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You promise in advance to do things the way we have always done them in our church.”
2. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if I have some sort of prior guarantee that when You show up you won’t embarrass me.”
3. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if Your work of revival is one that I can still control, one that preserves intact the traditions with which I am comfortable.”
4. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if Your work of revival is neat and tidy and dignified and understandable and above all else socially acceptable.”
5. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You plan to change others; only if You make them to be like me; only if You convict their hearts so they will live and dress and talk like I do.”
6. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You let us preserve our distinctives and retain our differences from others whom we find offensive.”