Here are my observations of the Asbury Revival 2023.
I've watched a couple of hours of the Asbury revival video… I'm not surprised if some students are being helped, and even saved… Also, a friend of mine was a student at Asbury many years ago. He traveled to Asbury this week and reported to me what he witnessed firsthand. Here is my takedown from what I’ve seen and heard so far.
1. Testimonies are extremely emotional – even out of control emotions (the fruit of the spirit is self control). There is much emotion and not much doctrinal truth in the testimonies. I’m not hearing biblical categories of repentance and reformation. The testimonies are pretty much about emotional attachment, love, service, feeling close to God, availability to God… “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” Jer 6:14.
2. Where are the men? Primarily, young women are leading the congregation in singing. One woman on the platform was wearing a T-Shirt that said, “Listen to the Women Preach.” I don’t understand why they would have young girls guiding a crowd in such a significant moment. I view this, not only as unwise, but as a manifestation of feminism in the church and a rejection of explicitly stated male leadership in the church.
3. Where are the mature pastors? There seems to be no visible pastors giving doctrinal direction or process direction or shepherding the crowds with the Word of God. There have been some sermons, but the teaching of scripture is incidentally not central in this situation.
5. It’s all about love. The focus of the revival, that seems to have launched it all, seems to be a sermon and a prayer about an undefined love… which is probably why queer students are not riled up.
6. Doctrinally rich songs. There seemed to be little instructional substance to the songs. The songs are after the pattern of Bethel and Hillsong, which I regard as harmful and at points, even heretical influences in the church today. The song leaders seem to be actually copying Bethel music personalities on stage. The song leaders are initiating long sets of mind numbing repetitions of words; 10, 20, 30 times, going on and on like mantra.
7. It happened in February… Why every February? Almost all of the nine revivals at Asbury were in February… two in March. Asbury often has planned Revivals in February. One mark of Finneyesque revivalism is that the church schedules revivals. Here is the link to the history of the 1905, 1908, 1921, 1950, 1958, 1979, 1992, 2006, 2023 revivals at Asbury: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/resources/library/archives/history/revivals/
8. The Bible. This is not a movement tightly tethered by the Word of God or the sufficiency of scripture.
9. My friend who talked to students at Asbury told me that he felt that we have done this generation a terrible disservice as they are very weak emotionally and mentally…He said they all feel victimized and wounded.
10. I'm sure some of the students are genuinely turning to God... the long term fruit will be the proof. Like the man said, "It's not how high you jump, it's how straight you walk when you land."