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Is Revival Soft or Strong? by Thang San Mung

A guest article by Thang San Mung

Is Revival Soft or Strong?

A Pastoral Response to Current Revival Movements and Spiritualities

Introduction*

With a posting of its position paper by the General Presbyters of the Assemblies of God of America in 2000,[1] it became clear to sight about the growing tension, having long been existing even among the Pentecostals/Charismatics, in relation to the said current revival movements.[2] No doubt that one of the major concerns underlies with one’s uneasy feeling with certain phenomena that the said revivals brought.[3] While as no one is in the position to approve or disapprove it to others in practice, it is but one’s right to accept or reject it in terms of one’s own preference. However, to resist what God provided for our benefits at His own sovereign will just for the sake of personal inclination would be a big mistake and is even worth to call a blasphemy. At the same time, to entertain oneself just with the sounding but not having genuine spirituality inside also would be a void and meaningless spiritual quest. When ‘the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness so must genuine revival be’ is the statement of some to marginalize, frankly speaking, what seemed barbaric to their judgment, the metaphorical expressions such as “revival fire” or “rushing wind of God” or “spiritual tidal wave” and the likes are the explanation of some to validate those spiritual wild fires (cf., Acts 2:1-4). Therefore, this is our question, “Is revival soft or strong?”

1. The Rule for Us not for Them: The Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness

As theological undergraduate student, we’re first introduced to the Systematic Theology,[4] in which basic Christian doctrines are analyzed and systematized for fresher. The impression that I had when came across through the study of the Holy Spirit is about the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5. I thought that I got a rule, by which I would be able to measure out what in the church were happening around under the cover of the term “revival”. The statement, “the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness,” became my measuring rod to rebuke those who seemed little bit rough and wild in my sight, as a young pastor.[5] However, not soon after, I became noticed of that something was missing as I tried to press on my big words against those likely wild and rough. The more I pressed on, it seemed that the more I missed out!

Am I wrong at claiming the gentleness of the Spirit? No. I don’t think so. If then so what is wrong? Nothing is wrong with that biblical statement. However, still something is wrong. Later, I found out that me myself is wrong. While claiming the gentleness of the Spirit as my measuring rod, I myself had missed to be gentle and humble enough in dealing with those spiritual stuffs. After many years of my pastoral service with many failures, I came to learn at last that the measuring rod of Spirit’s gentleness is not for to rule out my parishioners, who are of course genuine seekers of God, but is the rule to myself and my actions, even my attitude, to check out my dealings with those who seemed rough and wild in their spiritual hungriness, instead.[6]

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Category: Church History

About the Author: Thang San Mung (David Thangsan), entered full-time ministry as a teenager, pastoring churches in Myanmar (Burma) and Korea. His formal theological education includes B.Th. (BBC, Tedim, 1993), M.Div. (2005) and Th.M. (TTGST, Korea, 2007). His personal web log is http://hisfootstep.blogspot.com.

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