The Asbury Revival concluded Thursday night after 16 days of continuous worship service at the university chapel. The chapel itself was packed with college age students or younger. The stream of the finale coincided with the Collegiate Day of Prayer, a jumpstart movement that seeks to capitalize on the 200th anniversary of the 2nd Great Awakening in America which they claim began on college campuses. Asbury University places their best foot forward, and in a little less than three hours we see a great sample of what the Asbury Revival was and the message they want people to get out of it.
The Event’s False Advertisement
Last week it was reported that Francis Chan, Rick Warren, and the International House of Prayer were going to be part of the Asbury Revival. This was because their anticipated finale was going to coincide with the Collegiate Day of Prayer, an upstart attempt at campus revival that commenced its inaugural day as the last Thursday of February. Their brand new YouTube Channel featured a trailer of Francis Chan explaining the event and saying that he’d be there. The description was as follows:
Join us LIVE from Asbury University on Feb 23rd at 8-10pm ET with special guests Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Allen Hood and worship leaders from International House of Prayer, Circuit Riders + Black Voices Movement, and Met By Love Worship. Let’s believe God for REVIVAL amongst believers on college campuses and SPIRITUAL AWAKENING amongst the lost.
Evidently Francis Chan and the egomaniacal Rick Warren were not there. Perhaps the chorus were member of the International House of Prayer, whose university, IHOPU was well represented in the sweaters of the chorus, but that would be the high water mark of Big Eva at this event. Asbury University ran the show, perhaps to maintain their consistent position against outside influence.
More Bible Reading
The event itself kicks off with worship and many students reading passages of Scripture they dubbed “life verses.” For a revival not characterized by Scripture reading, this was a positive sight for those of us who went in skeptical.
Horrendous Gospel Presentation
Asbury Theological Seminary is a Methodist institution, meaning there is already an understanding that the theology will be lacking. However, the worst gospel presentations we generally cover are Prosperity or Popularity Gospel type of presentations, not like what we saw Thursday night at Asbury. The presentation of the gospel was a argued point as to whether it occurred at all or consistently throughout the protracted worship service.
At the finale, the elements of the gospel were presented, just not all at one time or by the same person. The revival placed the duty of the gospel call on about three students, who collectively dropped the ball on the fall of man.
Asking the audience to breath and take a deep breath, the student proclaims that that breath was a gift from God, that everything is a gift from God. He then defines the fall of man as Adam and Eve placing a gift from God, the apple, above God.
Yikes. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, therefore usurping his authority. The fall of man was an act of rebellion, not a mixing of priorities. When you get sin wrong, it’s hard, if not impossible to do the gospel right. A standard “good person test” would have been exceedingly better.
In a bad attempt at replicating Peter’s sermon in Acts, the student went Old Testament, making it seem as though the Jesus was not the original plan of God. The emphasis on Jesus being a gift and salvation being a gift were adequately presented.
This presentation mentions sin but otherwise makes it seem more benign than it actually is. The wrath of God is mentioned, though not hell. The severity of rejecting the gospel is utterly absent. This alter call moment ended up being their penultimate gospel presentation which was quite wanting.
A Call To Action
The remainder of the festivities are elongated worship songs and calls to action. The calls to action focus generally on praying for college campuses and lost friends. On multiple occasions the worship leaders had the students form groups, get on their knees, and lay hands on one another.
While the calls to action were prayerful and evangelistic in nature, they lacked a component of discipleship. At no point was it said, “if you do not have a Bible, one will be provided to you.” Nor was their emphasis on reading Scripture more and studying the Word. It was a missional focus, which isn’t bad, but perhaps new believers should be better equipped.
The stereotypical picture of Methodists is that they are gay, but apparently they are actually charismatic. One lady had the microphone and affirmed the faith healing that took place, which included medical defects as well as the nigh impossible to prove mental health conditions. She describes “relational healing” as a thing, one that amounted to, in her description, people becoming friends that previously didn’t know each other.
While there were no tongue speaking shown on video or slayings of the Spirit, it was nevertheless a Hyper-Charismatic, seeker-sensitive event, that pushed for emotional conviction while at times trying to safeguard against hyper-emotionalism.
A Parable of the Sower
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 And others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and were yielding a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 14:3-9 LSB
We should praise God that many seeds were sown and that some, however few will grow and bear fruit. That’s how the gospel works. Yet despite what we can reasonably anticipate to be a low retention rate, we should still praise God for the way he just used a liberal seminary and try to disciple these students, because it doesn’t look like they will.