Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: From Pentecost to the Present (Destiny Image Publishers, 2000), 231 pages.
I like history and I like revival history most of all. For this reason, I found this book enjoyable. It is an easy-to-read presentation of ten revivals that the authors selected as the greatest to have occurred since the Church began. The revivals were put in the order of importance based upon the opinions of 17 of the best-known preachers in the world.
The greatest revival is cited as the 1904 revival that began in Wales, touched Korea and Manchuria, and ended at Azuza Street. If you are a Pentecostal, you will not be content with the scope accorded the greatest revival for you will not read it culminating in 600,000,000 full gospel adherents across the globe. Indeed, to my viewpoint, the book suffers from its lack of a Pentecostal perspective.
Putting aside my preference, Towns and Porter list the first Great Awakening from 1727 to 1750 with Zinzendorf, Wesley, Whitefield, and Edwards as the second greatest revival. The third greatest was the post independence revival from 1780 to Cane Ridge in the early 1800’s. Then we go to Finney and the Hawaiian Revival lead by Titus Coan in the first half of the 19th century. The book also cites the Layman’s pre-civil war prayer revival, the Second World War revival, the Jesus people/baby boomers of the 1960’s and 70’s, the pre-reformation Lollards and Savronarola, the 16th Century reformation and the original revival of Acts 2 called Pentecost.
I found much new material in the book, including little told stories of people and places that added to my overall knowledge of this fascinating subject. I also found the insights of the authors to be provoking and valuable. My own treatment of the history of revival starting in 1300 AD is a continuum of a loving God calling people who for some reason were compelled to initially seek or to offer to others His blessing into periods of visitation that changed much of the community forever and builds ever more upon what has passed.
Treating revivals as unrelated and uncommon incidents as this book does, in my view, takes away from the purposes of God in his never ending efforts to bring man to salvation. Revivals are wonderful periods in the life of believers. They also are demanding and exhausting periods and—as with any move of God—bring all sorts of controversy and scorn to the fore for discussion and absorption. Revivals mean lack of sleep, time for everyday things and all sorts of consequences.
May the Lord revive us all again and again.
Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns
Read an excerpt from Elmer Towns’ website: http://elmertowns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/10_Greatest_Revivals_EverETowns.pdf