Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Fruits of Emotion-based Christianity

I was browsing through some old editorials by Charisma's J. Lee Grady (I believe reading stuff like this is the Protestant equivalent of Purgatory) and came across his entry for May 2006 titled "What Happened to Brownsville's Revival?" What he describes (and still supports anyways!) shows what happens when you base your Christianity on emotionalism instead of the unchanging Word of God. In reads, in part:

In the early days of the revival, the faithful came by bus, car and airplane from all over the world. Eager worshipers waited for hours in the sweltering humidity to get a seat for 7 p.m. services that often lasted past midnight. When evangelist Steve Hill finished his nightly sermons—in which he demanded repentance from spiritual compromise—the majority of people in the auditorium would run to the front of the church and bury their faces in the floor.

...Wailing was commonly heard during those meetings. Some people shook under the weight of conviction. It did not matter if you were a drug addict needing conversion or a pastor living in secret sin—everyone found forgiveness and an unusual sense of refreshing in that holy place.

...I don’t question whether the Holy Spirit was in that place. But today, more than 10 years after the Pensacola Outpouring occurred, I am asking other questions.

I am wondering why the church that hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors has shrunk to a few hundred members and now owes millions of dollars for a building they can’t fill. I am struggling to understand why so many people who once were part of the Brownsville church now feel hurt and betrayed. I am wondering if the leaders of this movement mishandled the anointing of God’s presence like Uzzah did when the ark of God almost toppled on the ground (see 2 Sam. 6:6-8).

...It is no secret that relationships among various leaders at the Brownsville church were strained to the breaking point. Michael Brown, once the leader of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry (BRSM), was fired in 2000 and then started his own training center that he eventually moved to North Carolina.

BRSM in its heyday had an enrollment of 1,200 students. That number shrank to 120 this year. This week the church announced that the ministry school will relocate to Louisiana, where it will be directed by revivalist Tommy Tenney.

...The pastor of the church during the revival, John Kilpatrick, resigned in 2003 and told parishioners he planned to remain at the church in an apostolic role. Kilpatrick installed Randy Feldschau as the new pastor, then this year Kilpatrick shocked the congregation by starting a new church in Daphne, Ala., 50 miles west of Pensacola.

Feldschau resigned a few weeks ago and moved to Texas, and Brownsville’s attendance has dipped below 400. One former staff member told me that a large group of Brownsville members now attend a local Southern Baptist church in the city, while many others don’t go anywhere.

“People have been leaving for three or four years,” the pastor told me. “Some are not in church at all, including some who were on staff. I don’t know anyone who has not been hurt.”

At one point during the heyday of the movement, Korean pastor David Yonggi Cho announced from Brownsville’s pulpit that the revival “would last until Jesus comes.” Certainly the fruit of this revival will remain that long. But for those in Pensacola who were swept up in the ecstasy of those early years, and then endured splits, resignations, debts and disappointments, the word “revival” now has a hollow ring to it.


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