Thursday, April 15, 2010

Revive Us Again! Passionately and Progressively?

Cane Ridge Revival 1801
Last week I posted an essay by Professor/Pastor Bruce Epperly entitled "A Passionate Progressive Christian Revival," and in that essay Bruce argued that progressives need to experience a passionate revival.  I was thinking about what such a thing would look like as I participated in a revival at a Black Disciples Church in Detroit last night.  

It was my first revival in a Black church, and I must say -- I came home moved, revived, and restored.  There was music and prayer and preaching.  The guest revivalist, Pastor George Davis, stirred us with his message out of 1 Chronicles 7:14 -- the first of three messages.  The choir and the praise team sang (and that was enjoyable).  And Pastor Rufus Lewis sang "I Won't Complain" in honor of a beloved church member who had died that day.  After the preaching, Pastor Rufus called up the pastors in the house, and several of my colleagues and I went up front, and we prayed with those wishing prayer.  It was a unique experience that was spiritually uplifting.  I must say, I was warmly received and greeted by all.  Indeed, that might have been the most moving part of all -- the warmth of the fellowship.    

So, what would a progressive revival look like?   Would it look like a bible lecture?  Would it stir the souls?  Would it call out from us a deep sense of need for the presence of God?  Would it exude love of neighbor?  Further, if, my congregation were to hold a three night revival with a guest preacher, would the people come out?  As a Disciple I know that our roots go back to the Second Great Awakening.  Barton Stone, one of our founders, was host to the famous Cane Ridge Revival - an event that was anything but a rationalist experience for participants.  So, my question goes forth.  How might the Spirit move in our midst in a way that when we go forth we have been revived and restored? 


Jennifer said...

Hi, Bob!

I'm here on your invitation to spill on how I think Emergent is the Revival of Progressive Christianity.

If I am not mistaken, Progressive Christianity is roughly part of Ecumenism or visa-versa. This mainly started in the Liberal Protestant Churches in America and Western Europe in the early-mid 1900's, yes? It was part of the move towards non-literal and non-pre-rational theology and practice.

It effectively purged Christian practice of its reliance on fear and certainty about the historicity of the Biblical myth. And while this was necessary, it also threw out a few babies. The decline in, and graying of, membership of the more progressive denoms over the last 50 years testifies to it's lack of attractiveness in general to a public that is ever youthing and ever evolving.

10-15 years ago something weird happened when the Internet exploded. People all over the world started talking to each other cross-denominationally and cross-faith and they realized that we were all being duped. We were all being told that our small faith group was the right faith group and had the best faith and practice, but we discovered that this was not true. Other denoms and other faiths were producing some pretty amazing people and wonderful thought and practice. The only conclusion we could all come to was that our God must have been too small.

So, when we tried to bring this idea into our churches, we got mixed reactions. The more progressive denoms probably didn't think anything new was being said, so I think they ignored us pretty much. But we were saying something different. They were still hand-cuffed to names and places and traditions and had rejected some stuff that was pretty harmless once it was disconnected from the Authority Structures that once weilded them - like confession. And the Bible!

The more conservative wings quickly rejected this wave of dissatisfaction for doctrinal reasons, but we would not let them nail us down on exactly what those reasons could be because we were rejecting the concept of being held by doctrine to begin with. They wanted us to be sinners, but we were often much more pious, devoted, steeped in Scripture and committed than they were. So, they just make stuff up about what they think we believe and how that defiles Jesus' Work. Whatever.

But we are breathing on our own now and we have come out from the denoms that incubated us and then wouldn't let us move around, and we're breaking all the rules that held us back from doing Jesus' True Work of bringing His beautiful Love and Grace to all of Creation.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Jennifer, thank you for your thoughts on the topic! I hope others will now engage the topic as I've laid it out and then as you've offered a response!