Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard at least a little about the so-called revival at Asbury University in Kentucky. I haven’t done extensive research into the matter, and I probably won’t. But I’ve heard enough about it to know people on both sides of the controversy ought to step back and take a wait-and-see attitude.
This so-called revival, we should note, started with students feeling convicted by a message given during a mandatory chapel service. Apparently, they remained in the chapel singing, confessing sin, crying and repenting, and have continued flooding the chapel with spontaneous worship for two weeks now. Other people have, as a response, flocked to Asbury in hopes of participating in the blessing.
Could this event truly be a work of the Holy Spirit? Possibly. I think we’d be foolish to rule it out. If it really is His work, however, we won’t know that it for a few years as we see whether or not its effects last. I remember several supposed revivals in the 1990s that have long been forgotten. Friends of mine who passionately supported those revivals haven’t matured much in the faith since then, and a few no longer walk with the Lord. Clearly, fruit takes time to develop. If Asbury is experiencing a true revival, its fruit will last and even ripen.
My skepticism comes largely from the fact that college kids initiated this revival. I remember being a college kid, and getting swept up in a plot to “reform” the administration. Though I don’t recall most of our grievances, at the time a group of us passionately believed we needed to address wrong policies. Since the ringleader happened to be the editor of the campus newspaper, we devoted an entire issue to exposing the perceived infractions of the president and deans.
Our rebellion ran on emotion. As I recollect, none of us had much interest in actually discussing matters with the administration. We just wanted to feel the power of changing things. The editor kept our emotions whipped up as we plotted our attack. Those emotions carried us through a full month, making me wonder how any of us maintained our grades. Looking back, I can see that we were enjoying the emotional high of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Obviously, the students at Asbury aren’t fomenting a rebellion; their administration completely supports this alleged revival. But, like the college gang I was in, they appear to be caught up in something bigger than themselves. Having been through my college episode, I can testify to the heady feelings that accompany such an experience.
I may be mistaken in comparing Asbury to our little rebellion. On the other hand, maybe we should consider the likelihood that the emotions of enthusiastic kids could be driving this thing. Perhaps I’m wrong. Let’s just wait and see what kind of fruit it bears.