Subscribe via RSS Feed

What We Need is Revival

This guest article by Christian historian William DeArteaga is calling Christians, particularly in the USA, to lay aside political differences and pray for the nation in which God has placed us.

 

There is a sense a panic among some Evangelicals about the Biden-Harris election victory. We are in the midst now of a very childish, and I believe sinful, challenge to the Biden victory on matters that cannot possibly shift the election outcome. I served as poll watcher eight years ago and know firsthand how meticulous and thorough the vote counting process is here in Georgia, as in other states. Trump recklessly claimed that the states that went against him were run by dishonest Democrats. Here in Georgia, which Trump lost, both the governor and secretary of state are Republicans and would not have allowed any pro-Democratic dishonesty in the vote count.

Image: Nathan Dumlao

There are fervent Trump supporters that are convinced that the Biden victory will result in a renewed secularization of America, with increased Christian persecution and the total spiritual ruin of our nation. I personally do not share these catastrophic expectations. To the contrary, have recently published a slender book on the serious spiritual damage that the Trump administration has caused to the long-range good of Evangelical/Pentecostal Christianity.[1] Although there is some danger that a Biden administration could take a radical secularist and anti-Christian turn, it is not probable, especially with the continued strong Republican presence in the Senate and House of Representatives.

But let me recall American history to a time that had a similar religious divide. In the election of 1800 Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican) ran against John Adams (Federalist). The spiritual issues revolved around the fact that Jefferson was a Deist and did not believe in the Bible as the word of God. He dismissed all of Jesus’ recorded healing as myths. Also, Jefferson had looked favorably on the French Revolution (1789) even after it took a turn into ant-Christianity and terror. The Federalist quickly became suspicious of the French Revolution, and under Adams Administration (he won the presidency in 1796) there was an undeclared naval war between Republican France and the United Sates. It could have evolved into all out warfare.

Revival can come again to America regardless of who is president.

The political campaign of 1799 was full of mudslinging and exaggerations just like modern campaigns (alas). The Democratic-Republicans accused the Federalists of backing England in its struggle against France with the purpose of ultimately establishing an aristocratic government in the United States, just like in England. The Federalists accused the Democratic Republicans and Jefferson of favoring the Terror of the French Revolution (guillotine and all). They asserted that if Jefferson won, America would experience a similar reign of Terror, Deism would be established as the official state religion, and “women would be ravaged in the streets.” Most orthodox Christians voted for Adams, while the less orthodox and Deist, which were a majority in 1800, voted for Jefferson. Jefferson won the presidency in a convoluted electoral process in which Alexander Hamilton (a Federalist) turned his support to Jefferson.

The Jefferson administration did not turn out anything like the catastrophic expectations the Federalists had prophesied. Rather, most historians consider it a “middling” good administration with such accomplishments as the buying of the Louisiana territory from Napoleon and ushering in a period of economic prosperity. While president, Jefferson gradually drifted to some to the Federalists positions about the role of government. Of course, neither the Terror nor the guillotine came to America, and women were as safe in the streets as before.

In fact, Jefferson’s term in office turned out to be the period of the Second Great Awakening, (1797-1805).[2] This was the most spiritually significant revival America has experienced thus far. It essentially converted American from a predominantly Deist country to a majority orthodox and Evangelical one. The revival is remembered mostly for the huge meetings at Cane Ridge, which was a frontier “camp meeting” under the open air. Out of the Second Great Awakening there developed the “anxious seat” and ultimately the Evangelical sacrament of the “altar call” where Christians first enter into a relationship with Jesus. Before that, as for instance under the evangelization of George Whitefield, the Gospel was preached but the hearer was directed to “go to the woods” (or any solitary place) and pray to discern if he or she was elected by God to be saved. This was a flawed theological tradition derived from classical Calvinism.[3] Some did not hear an affirmative message and believed they were doomed eternally.

But back to Jefferson. He was blissfully unaware of the tectonic spiritual change that America was experiencing in the Second Great Awakening and continued to be a Deist to the day he died. He did have a reconciliation with John Adams in his later years – a grace-filled sign from out of American history that deep political divides can be overcome.

Now, the main point of this essay is that revival can come again to America regardless of who is president. Revival seems to depend on two factors: God’s sovereignty, and the Christian’s persistence in repenting on behalf of the nation and praying for revival. Scholars and Bible teachers are divided on which factor is most important. I believe that the Lord wants to send revival at all times but waits until the prayers of the saints reach a certain critical (desperate) level before He responds. That is what happened in the Second Great Awakening, when a holy remnant of American Christians on the frontier saw and understood the terrible Deist situation of the Nation and prayed for revival. If I am wrong, point that out to me in heaven when you get there. I am 78, so I will probably beat you there.[4]

Prayer points:

  • Continue to pray for the government in power, wither your party is in power or not. Don’t believe that revival depends on who is in the White House.
  • Continue to repent on behalf of our nation for its sins, especially repenting on behalf of those who have no concept of sin or unrighteousness.
  • Continue to pray and believe for a great revival to sweep through this nation. (We should not confuse a nation-changing revival like Cane Ridge with local “revivals” that are often little more that routine evangelical meetings. For instance, in the Welsh Revival of 1900 there was such a heavy presence of God that even unbelievers could see a glory cloud rolling in on one town after the other. It was reported that one unbeliever shouted to another, “Run, if the cloud hits you, you will never drink gin again!”
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to touch the White House and the entire administration, and that the policies put forward by that administration be godly and for the benefit of the entire nation.

Personally, I am praying for Biden in a special way, as I believe it is important that he remain in good health and a sound mind for the full four years of his term. I ask for God’s love and grace to fill him, and give him discernment in governing this nation and leading it to political reconciliation.

 

Editor’s note: This revised article was written by William DeArteaga on November 6, 2020, three days after the polls closed. To see the original article, see “Worried About the Election? What We Need is Revival” (published August 31, 2020).

 

Notes

[1] William L. De Arteaga, Discerning Trump’s Character and Presidency: A Theological reflection on How False Prophecy Influenced American Politics. (Amazon: KDP, 2020).

[2] Perhaps the best single work on the Second Great Awakening is Paul K .Conklin’s Cane Ridge: America’s Pentecost (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).

[3] On the development of the altar call, originally called the “invitation” see my work Forgotten Power. (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 2002). Chapter 12, “From Camp Meeting to Altar Call.”

[4] When I was pastor to my Hispanic congregation in Marietta, Georgia, I would sometimes preach a controversial message, and I would say to them, “Let’s meet at my mansion in heaven in 75 years and have coffee and pastries, and you tell me when I was accurate or way off.”

Pin It

Tags:

Category: Fall 2020, Living the Faith

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1349 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Then, Now, and Later

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    A Keener Understanding of the Bible: The Jewish Context for the Book of Revelation

    Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, S...

    F.F. Bosworth and the Role He Played in the Ministry of T.L. Osborn: An Interview with Dr. LaDonna Osborn