Quotes and Book Reviews

Finney Lives On    by V. Raymond Edman.Published by Bethany Fellowship

Finney Lives On, is, in the words of the author a readers digest condensed version ( as it were ) of Finneys Lectures on Revival.   It was published in1951, and reprinted in 1971 . Edman at the time of writing was the president of Wheaton College and he wrote it to make Finney more accessible to his students.  It seems he succeeded for they experienced a significant revival among the students as a result.  Finney Lives On is a superb primer for revival. Nobody cuts through the mystical nonsense that always seems to enshroud revival better than Finney.  Edmans objective was to let Finney speak for himself and aside from a few explanatory notes, Finney’s quotes make up the bulk of the book.  Just reading this book led me into personal revival, and I am sure that I will be returning to it time and again as my guide and manual for preaching and leading revival.

Finney was adamant that revivals are not miracles or mystical phenomenons that happen whenever the Lord ” sovereignly pleases. To quote Finney

”  Many people have supposed God’s sovereignty to be something very different from what it is.  They have supposed it to be such an arbitrary disposal of events and particularly of His gift of His Spirit, as precluding a rational deployment of means for promoting a revival of religion.  But there is no evidence from the Bible that God exercises any such sovereignty as that. There are no facts to prove it.  But everything goes to show that God has connected the means with the end through all the departments of His government in nature and in grace. There is no natural event in which His agency is not concerned. He has not built the creation like a vast machine that will go on alone without His further care.  He has not retired from the universe to let it work for itself. This is mere atheism. He exercises a universal superintendence and control. And yet every event in nature has been brought about by means.  He neither administers providence nor grace with that sort of sovereignty that dispenses with the use of means. There is no more sovereignty in one than in the other.

And yet some people are terribly alarmed at all direct efforts to promote a revival, and they cry out, You are trying to get up a revival in your own strength. Take care you are interfering with the sovereignty of God . Better keep along the usual course and let God give a revival when He thinks it is best. God is a sovereign and it is very wrong for you to attempt to get up a revival just because you think a revival is needed.  This is just such preaching as the devil wants. ( emphasis mine ) And men cannot do the devil’s work more effectively than by preaching up the sovereignty of God as a reason why we should not put forth efforts to produce a revival

Divine sovereignty designates devices and patterns for the procedure and success of Divine purposes ”  unquote

If anyone would have the courage to ” attempt to get up a revival” Charles Grandison Finney is the one to go to, to learn the devices, patterns and procedures that ensure success..and this little book is a great introduction to Finney.

HISTORICAL DRIFT by Arnold l Cook   published 2000 by Christian publication inc.

One of the reviews inside the jacket, written byu Dr Robertson McQuilkin  states,  “This book is a powerful diagnosis of the church’s fatal illness and sound antidote to the virus found in every church body and institution. May God us this volume to stem the tide.”  Whoa.. harsh words indeed and yet reading the book i couldn’t agree more. Although Historical Drift is primarily about showing how churches and institutions gradually drift from there spiritual and theological moorings it has a  significant section on how to stem or reverse the tide of moral and spiritual decay, and course that includes a section on revival which is all about just that.

I felt his treatment of revival was very sound and balanced and i found it helpful towards  my efforts to ” get up revival”   I particularly am grateful for his section listing the numerous revivals throughout North America in the last few decades.   I am looking forward to doing more research on each of the revivals he has listed.

The writer,  Arnold Cook , was at one time a professor at the Canadian Theological Seminary and at the time of writing was the president of a large denomination.   He writes with the authority not only of a great researcher but with the authority of the shrapnel wounds taken in the trenches.   He has experienced how difficult it is to keep the church from being comformed to the world.  I really enjoyed his chapters on Revival. Below are a few quotes from the book.

” Few evangelical leaders would openly confess to a lack of commitment to a renewal. But even in denominations with rich heritages of revival, and a well developed theology of renewal, pastors rarely preach or teach or lead their people in renewal. Such leaders become barriers to revival as they designate it unimportant by benign neglect. They say nothing negative, but their silence shouts down revival as being irrelevant for our day. They send two dangerous messages to their people.  First that the dominant theme of theme of God’s book- that He is constantly calling His people back to Himself  is no longer valid today. The second covert message  is that our cozy, comfortable and cultured North American Christianity is normal Christianity. ”

It is becoming apparent in our broken society that the most important criteria for the christian leader is brokeness of spirit. A spirit of brokeness is the very essence of revival. My expanded expectation of revival defines it as , ”  a time when God comes down. When the word comes aliive. When sin is revealed.  Where brokeness abounds. Where confessions are made. Where forgiveness is granted and broken relationships are restored ”

” Could prayer become a substitute for revival? Short answer; Yes.  I am greatly encouraged by the world wide prayer movement but lets recall God’s first agenda item in the classic passage on revival ;  humble yourselves and then pray. ( 2 Chron 7:14 )  A.W. Tozer asks    Is prayer enough for revival? His answer : only if mixed with brokeness and humility.  Otherwise he notes, ” the prayer meeting becomes a wailing wall and the lights burn long and still the rains tarry”,

” So how is the evangelical church doing so well without revival? Answer:  We’re getting by, by replacing the supernatural with substitutes  which appear to be serving quite well, but which can never pass the faith on to the next generation.  We have compared ourselves with ourselves in the mirror of North American evangelicalism and apparently our response is, ” we are satisfied with man-made pageantry and imitating wind and fire.  the God of the ” living waters”  continues to call us to repent and be restored through revival.

Here’s the tragic bottom line:  We who are His glory have turned to worthless idols.  Whenever Christians are satisfied with substitutes, historical drift becomes even more sublte.”

A third Testatment, by Malcom Muggeridge. 1976  Little Brown and Company

This is a delightful read in which Muggeridge  introduces his reader to six very influential Christians in a very charming intimate way,  St Agustine, Blaise Pascal, William Blake, Soren Kierkegaard,  Leo Tolstoy and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   But you may ask what is this book doing in a blog on revival. None of these men were a revivalist.  Not in the technical sense no, but in another sense they were. And this is in the sense  in which they were men who  defied the world in their quest for truth, justice and God.  They were men who lived with one foot in eternity and the other in time.  And they transformed the world. Without these six wonderful, courageous men, who knows if Christianity would still be here at all.  Interestingly it is Kiekegaard, a little know Danishman whom  i chose to quote.  Though Kierkegaard was little regarded in his own lifetime the quotes he left behind are brimming with Godly wisdom and insight.  He saw our world, our present culture, before it came to pass. He existed on the cusp of modern culture and from that vantage he could see what we who are immersed in this culture cannot see.   I quote Muggeridge’s description of Kierkegaard ” No voice could have run more counter to the spirit of the age, the Zeitgeist, than Kierkegaard’s . When freedom was seen in terms of counting heads, he spoke contemptuously of the fallacy of numbers, and of how, seen as a collectivity, human life must inevitably sink into a condition of brutishness and mindlessness.  ” when truth conquers with the help of 10,000 yelling men, even supposing that what is victorious is true, by the virtue of their victory a far greater untruth is inculcated”  “in contrast to the notion of salvation through power, he held out the hope of salvation through suffering.  the cross against the ballot box or the clenched fist, the solitary pilgrim against the slogan shouting mob, the crucified christ against the demagogue-dictators  promising a kingdom of heaven on earth, whether achieved through endlessly expanding wealth and material well being, or through the ever greater concentration of power and it’s ever more ruthless excercise.  ”

As i think about Kierkegaard in the light of revival, i think about the main crux of revival which i believe to be about our focus moving from time towards eternity, from peer dependence toward individual responsability.  Kierkegaard was prescient in seeing the role of media as making man obsessed with the moment. I quote; ”

On the whole the evil in the daily press consists in being calculated to make, if possible the passing moment a thousand or ten thousand more times more inflated and important that it really is.  But all moral elevation consists first and foremost in being weaned from the momentary.  If Christianity is really to be proclaimed , it will become apparent that it is the daily press which will if possible make it impossible. There has never been a power so diametrically opposed to Christianity as the daily press. Day in, and day out, the daily press does nothing but delude men with the supreme axiom of this lie, that numbers are decisive. Christianity on the other hand,  is based on the thought that the truth lies in the single individual..

on a personal note,  in my personal journey into revival  I first of all eschewed television, then radio, and now finally I am giving up reading the newspaper which has been almost an obsession of mine for forty years.  What do I either gain personally  , or give back to my world ,  by reading the daily reports of murder and mayhem.  It is all distraction,  a cacophony of worldliness. Reading the newspaper at best only qualifies me to say some trivial word or two at the water cooler.  ” what about those Canucks eh?   I have replaced it by reading the Bible,  books like A Third Testament and by memorizing scripture and great hymns.  Doing these things qualifies me to say great things anywhere.