Many Christians on social media (including prominent influencers) have expressed criticisms of the Asbury Revival. Let’s examine their validity together.
In part one of this two-part post, I shared with you my personal experience attending the Asbury Revival. After receiving multiple second-hand reports, I was fortunate enough to be a first-hand eyewitness on the last day of non-youth public meetings.
I won’t go into a recap of that article here, other than to say that I had two main reasons for attending. One of those reasons was the impetus for my first post.
With this post I now turn to the second. And that is the numerous criticisms of the Asbury Revival that have appeared on social media, including prominent influencers. In all fairness, most of the outright criticisms of the Asbury Revival have been from random social media users, with various numbers of followers. But some have been from more known influencers.
Many influencers are contextualizing their criticisms of the Asbury Revival as “concerns”, but in truth, for several of them their concerns are thinly veiled criticisms. At the least, their concerns are not meant for examination, but to suggest reasons to doubt what is happening at the Asbury Revival.
I find it interesting that I have found nobody who will specifically denounce the Asbury Revival as demonic or of Satan. Perhaps a (I’d say very healthy) concern of committing the unpardonable sin is driving that, but it’s just as possible that the key to being able to walk back a critique if necessary is to come just short of denouncing the thing one is trying to discredit. Or the key to driving clicks is to leave things open-ended so responders must respond.
I have struggled over whether to say that last paragraph out loud, because the last thing I want to do is tempt someone into committing the unpardonable sin. So let me be clear: if you are an influencer and suspicious about the Asbury Revival, you have a right to share your concerns and examine them, but I implore you to weigh very carefully what you are saying.
My goal with this article is to give people pause before thinking they have airtight criticisms of the Asbury Revival. I am trying to do this while honoring the spirit of verses like 2 Timothy 2:14 and 2 Timothy 2:23-24 to not get into foolish arguments. I am not arguing here. I am exhorting caution to followers of Christ as it comes to calling into question something that has strong indicators of being from God. If anything, I am trying to caution believers of using foolish arguments in this manner.
As you have probably gathered, I am not unbiased about the Asbury Revival. But as you will see, what is driving my response to these criticisms is not that they express a different opinion, but how those opinions are being expressed. In that, I am striving to be dispassionate and objective, applying critical thinking and logic.
Don’t read too quickly past that last paragraph. If you don’t understand the lens through which these examinations are being made, you may react primarily with emotionalism (ironically, one of the concerns I have heard being levied against the Asbury Revival).
So, with the dispensing of the preliminaries, let’s start examining the criticisms of the Asbury Revival.
Popular Criticisms of the Asbury Revival
One of the more prominent voices that have lent themselves to expressing concerns about the Asbury Revival is Todd Friel of the YouTube channel Wretched. In selecting Friel’s video, I am not singling him out as a person – if anything, I would hope if he ever saw this, he would see my referencing this video as a compliment. He has been successful in creating a media machine, of which his YouTube channel seems to be only a portion. But he is clearly a solid, practiced communicator. As a search for criticisms of the Asbury Revival online will almost undoubtedly include Friel’s video on this topic, it seems like a good way to organize topics here. I have also found that many other critical influencers are either directly or unintentionally reflecting Friel’s comments in some way. This too would indicate that using Friel’s video as a template will be helpful.
We will be examining Friel’s words and examining what he is communicating for logical consistency and validity. At no point am I calling Friel deceptive, only questioning the reasoning he is using to support these concerns. This is not going to be an ad hominem attack on him or his faith. But I may reference Friel’s views (as I understand them) to help contextualize some of his (and the broader community’s) concerns for the reader. If anything I say comes across to the reader as attacking Friel himself, I would ask you to first re-read what I said, and please let me ask forgiveness in advance if I unintentionally do so. I have worked hard to ensure that isn’t the case.
Of course, quoting Friel in print does not give the reader the benefit of Friel’s masterful use of inflection, used in this topic mainly to infer doubt. Therefore, I will provide the video here if you want to go back and appreciate this more fully. This will also confirm I am providing Friel’s full context when I quote him.
I will commend Friel for starting his list of concerns for framing it in the context of scripture. In his video, he starts by quoting this passage (he appears to be using the NIV, but as per our practice, we will provide the NLT version):
Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)
Ok – on with examining the criticisms of the Asbury Revival.
Too Many Asbury Revivals
Friel makes note that Asbury has documented multiple revivals in the past.
By their own account, Asbury University has seen at least 8 Revivals, since the university was founded in 1890? I think it’s fair to wonder why this university seems to be favored by the Holy Spirit so regularly. Is it because the spirit is moving? Or, we have to ask, is it simply being manipulative? Just asking. It is strange. Why don’t we see a regular revival anywhere else but this particular university?
First of all, the word “manipulative” is very loaded, because it immediately brings into question the authenticity of what is happening at Asbury. Since I think it’s safe to assume we can agree that God’s hand cannot be forced by man, the only conclusion we have is either this event is being undergirded by the Holy Spirit (at least in the beginning), or it is not.
When Friel uses the word “manipulative”, his question is planting the seed of doubt not only to the authenticity of the event, but also the integrity of the student body and leadership at Asbury. Friel is leading the audience into his conclusion but is being smart enough not to paint himself in a corner. One might call that manipulative in and of itself. I am not going to accuse Friel of being intentionally manipulative. What we are seeing is that a good communicator knows how to lead his audience, and I have already credited Friel as such.
The charge of manipulation breaks down when one notes the multitude of college campuses where the Asbury Revival has spread. Any manipulation would have to be carried forward to any additional site. For this to be true, we’d be talking about more than manipulation – we’d be talking about conspiracy. Unless Friel is willing to go down that rabbit hole, I don’t see any value in calling this manipulative.
I do honestly doubt that suggesting conspiracy was his intention, so I only mention that to illustrate the end point of such thinking. Had he thought it through perhaps he would have used more nuance around this particular concern.
In direct answer to Friel’s final question here, we do see regular revivals at other universities. Wheaton College, for example, has had at least 5 identified revivals in its past – I was able to find this example in mere minutes, simply using a non-Google search engine. The same resource gave multiple other universities where revival has broken out in the past, so it would not take long to dig deeper for multiple revivals at these different locations. So, this question can seemingly be easily answered, already resulting in at least one other school with a similar pattern. Leaving the question dangling in the ether, however, is an effective way to make Asbury’s numerous revivals seem suspiciously unique.
Yes, I have only produced one other example. But after finding one so quickly – and from such a prominent name in Christian education – I think I’ve shown that this question can be easily answered. To ask it and leave it dangling suggests there isn’t an answer for it. Even if Friel is not attempting to play fast and loose with verifiable facts, this is not a truth tactic, it is a debate tactic, and testing the spirits deserves more than debate rules.
I think it’s also fair to point out that the Asbury Revivals have been of different lengths, kicked off by different starting conditions, with different end results. While some of them started at the end of a planned event, the evidence is that in those cases, the plans were set aside for something else entirely. It’s hard to make the case of convenience without any distinguishing patterns beyond location.
Questions About Asbury’s Connections
Friel’s next area of concern is the foundations of Asbury itself.
Asbury University – it is a part of the Wesleyan-Holiness movement. Wesleyan Methodist brothers and sisters are orthodox believers, but this particular branch does not usually preach very forcefully on sin, judgement, wrath, and the need for repentance. And the presence of those is actually necessary for revival to take place, and those who visited Asbury like Spencer Smith, Alicia Childers, they observed, they didn’t hear the gospel proclaimed once. Now, even if it has been preached occasionally, the centerpiece of a true revival is the gospel. We must ask, where is it as Asbury?
This guilt by association tactic is only valuable for casting aspersions, further leaning into the previous manipulation theme. Wesleyan-Holiness, as in all branches of Wesleyanism, land heavily in the Arminian tradition, and Friel – based on the evidence of countless videos – is firmly in the Reformed camp, which is fully Calvinist. In the Arminian/Calvinist arena, areas of disagreement do color views and communication around sin, judgement, wrath, and the need for repentance, but they remain important areas to understand and teach about on both sides. So in this, I can understand why Friel would say this. As a committed Calvinist, this is how he wold interpret the views of any group steeped in Arminianism. But it doesn’t change that this is guilt by association.
Friel also opens the door here that will be a repeated theme in these concerns – that the definition of true revival is not being met. The problem here is, the Bible does not give a definition of true revival. Therefore, the only definitions that can be referenced are man’s definitions. Making any claims that this doesn’t meet the definition of true revival an appeal to authority. Man’s authority, that is. And while I understand how revival is being given a specific definition in these critiques, I don’t favor this definition. More on that later.
Finally, since Friel cannot testify with certainty that the gospel has not been preached, he accepts that this could be happening at Asbury, but does not believe it is happening enough. So, what is enough? Is it every meeting? Every night? Every hour? Continuously? Friel has couched his requirement for sufficient gospel preaching in a way that he can always come back to anyone’s answer and move the bar.
It also requires us to accept his definition that the gospel is the centerpiece of a true revival. He may be contradicting himself in this later, as we will see.
Who is Endorsing the Asbury Revival?
The next concern turns from who undergirds Asbury to who seems to support the Asbury Revival.
When the following people endorse something…we should ask why. Todd Bentley…Shawn Feucht…Shane Claiborne? Now this isn’t definitive, but it is noteworthy, as I suspect this cast of characters would not attend a Ligonier R.C. Sproul revival and endorse it.
This is more guilt by association. It has been reported often that Asbury is turning down any “celebrity” preachers or worship leaders who want to participate as a leader during the Asbury Revival. They are not seeking endorsement, nor are they taking advantage of the “star power” this event is drawing. And they are to be commended for this, for resisting that temptation.
Having attended the Asbury Revival myself, one thing I did not see was anyone scouring the line of thousands waiting to enter one of the meeting chapels, looking for a “hit list” of people that would not be allowed in. Nor should they be doing so. One of these people going for themselves as a member of the crowd does not mean that Asbury aligns with them or seeks their blessing.
Furthermore, these names notwithstanding, anybody could attend one of these events and give their endorsement of it for their own purposes. There will always be wheat among the tares and wolves among sheep. I think it’s likely a review of Friel’s YouTube channel’s history would reveal his referencing some leaders that he would have at one time endorsed, who have been later proven to be illegitimate leaders by their actions. Does this mean we can take Friel’s prior endorsements of these people as personal error, and we don’t need to listen to him anymore? It’s the same logic trap.
Friel mentions an R.C. Sproul-led revival would not be endorsed by these same people. Does that statement have to be limited to a revival? I don’t know that these people would be in agreement with R.C. Sproul about anything. But that’s no surprise if none of these people are Reformed or Calvinist. Since Friel was clear to point out that “Wesleyan-Holiness brothers and sisters are orthodox believers”, what does it say that they would not endorse R.C. Sproul either?
If these people are talking favorably about the Asbury Revival, does that change its origins or practice in any way? No, it doesn’t. What would be important would be if leaders at Asbury began actively seeking out questionable leaders to come lead activities, of which they are doing the very opposite.
Revival Not Spreading to Secular Universities
Next Friel asks why we haven’t seen certain types of fruit come out of the Asbury Revival.
Other Christian universities are now saying we’re experiencing similar revivals but there’s no reports of revivals on secular campuses. Why is it just breaking out at private Christian schools? Why does it the Holy Spirit seems to be falling on more theologically conservative schools?
This is an interesting one because it requires Friel to admit that the revival is spreading to other campuses. The more the revival spreads to other areas, the less pertinent the charges of manipulation against the Asbury leadership or student body.
This also hearkens back to the definition of revival in the first place – and I only partially agree with Friel’s definition. I don’t agree with the definition that gospel preaching is central to revival. But it is central to Todd Friel’s definition of revival, as admittedly it is with many leaders and authority figures in the organized church. Which makes sense for it requires a call for salvation coming from a pulpit by a recognized biblical authority.
That’s not me being snarky. After all, revivals have been regularly scheduled events in the lives of many churches. I grew up Southern Baptist, and our church had several scheduled revivals, and we were told to bring in the lost so they could hear the gospel.
Part of the problem here is that revival is a catch-all phrase applied to the Great Awakenings, Billy Graham crusades, what’s happening at Asbury and other universities, both currently and historically, and scheduled special meetings at local churches. It’s like calling a soda a Coke.
Since it is germane to the conversation, I will offer here a thought on another definition for revival, one that I think is truer to the actual use of the word itself. I believe revival is for the believer in Christ, not for the world. You cannot revive something that did not have an origin. I believe it is this definition of revival that is more applicable to what’s happening at Asbury. Believers are having their faith strengthened, they are being renewed, they are letting go of things that have shackled them, they are answering calls to repentance and surrender to Christ.
But if the gospel isn’t being preached, according to Friel, this is not the biblical definition of a revival (these are words he uses later in the video). And we’ll talk about that more in a minute. Back to the secular campus question.
How I am defining revival aligns with the idea that secular universities wouldn’t see as great of a move of God. There are Christians at secular universities, but we can certainly agree they are the minority. So, while we could see revival spreading to those universities, it may not be as prevalent.
I believe one of the fruits of revival by my definition is a renewed call to and active participation in sharing the gospel. And that’s where we would start to see things happening on secular campuses. And we are seeing people going out from the Asbury Revival to secular campuses, sharing the gospel. In fact, I have an eyewitness report from Western Kentucky University of a meeting there where the gospel was about to be shared. The entire sound system died. And it kept repeatedly dying – but only when the speaker started to share the gospel. Finally, he walked among the crowd shouting the gospel at the top of his lungs.
I have also had reports of meetings being held at the University of Kentucky.
Yes, these are only 2. But I have seen second-hand reports of others. Some of those accounts are surely true. These 2 I mentioned are the ones I have personally confirmed accounts of. I’m sure as before, a simple online query would produce more, and the reader is probably personally aware of other examples.
How Are We Defining Revival?
I think we have a little definitional confusion. What is a revival? If we don’t pinpoint exactly what we think is happening at Asbury, I think it’s going to cause some confusion.
So I think there’s basically 2 types of revival. An individual or a church can be revived. Defend truth! They’re fired up to walk in holiness! It’s an individual reviving, encouraging. But the second type of revival, and I think this is the definition that most of us have in mind, is that this is a big outpouring of the Holy Spirit, lots of people are getting saved! So what do we call what’s happening at the Asbury Revival? It looks like some students are being encouraged but we have not seen reports of people getting saved.
Furthermore, revival grows outward. People are flying in to experience revival. Christians are flying in to be a part of it. Revival as we think about it like the Great Awakening Revival, it goes out! People are getting saved and then they go tell other people about what they have seen and heard. It doesn’t seem that that is happening at Asbury. So on the one hand we can call it perhaps an individual revival where some are encouraged, but shouldn’t we be calling it a 3rd Great Awakening Revival?
Understanding Friel’s prevalent definition of revival, I can understand why the Asbury Revival gives him pause. I think this is good, in the sense that If he is willing to define his terms, this allows us more insight as to his concerns. I can track with Friel’s concerns. And I am pleased to see he agrees that there can be multiple definitions of revival, and the first one he states aligns more with my preferred definition.
But he could have quit while he was ahead. He says 2 things that he thinks helps his cause, but I think rather than being persuasive, reinforces how his definition of revival does not line up with what’s happening at Asbury. And this is key: if he is using a definition he knows doesn’t confirm the Asbury Revival, while believing there is another valid definition of revival that does fit, then everything he is saying in this regard becomes a straw man.
First, he states that revival goes outward, which in Friel’s words “doesn’t seem that that is happening at Asbury”. Instead, he points out that many people are going to Asbury to attend the revival. The “going in” being contrasted against his true revival’s “going out”.
I wonder if Friel would be willing to use that litmus test for every Billy Graham Crusade? Semantically, not a revival, but seems that it meets every definition of Friel’s preferred definition of revival. Tens of thousands flocked to these crusade meetings for decades. Perhaps Billy Graham’s staff went “out” in preparation for these meetings, but it would make more sense they put most of their efforts into generating the largest turnouts possible.
People going to Asbury to be part of this revival does not invalidate (or validate) whether people are going out from this revival to share the gospel. Neither does it disqualify the Asbury revival from being authentic.
The second thing he says is a faulty comparison. Nobody at Asbury is making claims for what will result from this revival. Zach Meerkreebs, the person who gave the message that sparked the revival, has said that only time will tell what fruit will come of this.
If nobody from Asbury is willing to ascribe grandiose labels to it, why would Friel attempt to compare it to a 3rd Great Awakening? Is this a fair comparison? Or is he making his case stronger by comparing the Asbury Revival to something extraordinary, leaving the impression that this is no revival, because it is no Great Awakening? Should I conclude Todd Friel’s own impact is invalidated because he’s no Rush Limbaugh or Larry King? Of course not.
Among all the critiques online I haven’t seen one person who appears to have the mature discernment to make a judgement today as to what results will come out of the Asbury Revival. That person would be a prophet – a label which I would expect to be rejected by every critic I have seen.
Does the Asbury Revival Look Like Other Revivals?
This concern is related to the previous, in that we are talking about another aspect to the definition of revival.
What we see is a lot of ongoing worship. But very little if any actual expository Bible teaching, and maybe no gospel proclamation. When we see the 2 great revivals in the Bible, they both center on the preaching of the word. The greatest revival ever was in Nineveh, outside of Israel, outside of a Jewish University. Jonah preached repentance, and they got saved. Jonah didn’t lead music for hours on end. The 2nd revival in the Bible, Pentecost. But it was centered on the preaching of Peter, and the spirit poured out on people, and they got saved. The fruit of that revival was salvation, and then they took that message and went out. The Pentecost revival doesn’t look at all like what is happening at Asbury.
Using Friel’s preferred definition, what happened at Nineveh is not a revival. Nineveh did repent, but they didn’t convert to Judaism nor did they convert others to belief in God. And the fruit was not lasting because Nineveh later continued to be an enemy of the Israelites and were ultimately punished. God sparing His wrath against the Ninevites is a great example of His incredible mercy, but this is not a revival by Friel’s preferred definition, or of mine.
I suppose by Friel’s standard Pentecost was a revival. But by my definition it wasn’t, because Pentecost was a moment in time at the beginning of the church age. It was the first public preaching of the Gospel after the Holy Spirit had filled the disciples.
I would call gospel preaching an expected fruit that comes out of revival. I think as people are called back to repentance, obedience, and holiness, revival happens in the hearts of people and they develop a renewed interest in surrendering everything to Christ – a theme that has been proclaimed abundantly during the Asbury Revival. From there, those renewed people begin spreading the good news as part of their renewed obedience to Christ.
Gospel preaching’s primary audience is to the lost. I do think that the gospel should be shared in times of renewal to ensure that every listener has a chance to examine if their faith is authentic, but why does it only have to be from a pulpit for it to be “true” revival? This is not me conceding that it’s not happening, by the way.
The reason we may not be hearing of many people coming to know Christ is that the primary audience has been people who already identify themselves as Christians. There can be changed lives, renewed spiritual purpose, and eagerness to witness to the lost, without there being numerous conversions because the population itself doesn’t lend itself to that.
Let me also say the word renewal is important to my personal definition of what revival is. Because again, you can’t revive something that wasn’t once vital. And that is what I see happening at Asbury. People are being renewed. And again, Friel allows that this is a possible definition of revival.
So no, I don’t think either of these 2 are examples of an actual revival as I would define it. The closest things I see as actual revival in the Bible are in the Old Testament, when certain Kings of Israel would return from wickedness to the Lord, restoring Temple worship and tearing down idols. Because these were people being guided to return to their first love.
Charismatic Influences at the Asbury Revival
What is helpful about this criticism of the Asbury Revival is that it encompasses a lot of the negative social media chatter that is out there.
Unfortunately, we’re starting to see some bizarre behavior at the revival. Demons being cast out? Female preachers? Speaking in Tongues? Lots and lots of Hillsong and Bethel Music. Let’s hope this isn’t the beginning of more, well, wacky NAR-like behavior.
Let me make a few general comments here.
I have heard the general criticisms of Hillsong and Bethel music – which can be taken as extensions of criticisms of Hillsong and Bethel themselves. The reality is many believers sing these songs because they are played on Christian radio. Worship leaders hear them and bring them into their churches. Not many people associate these songs with what is being taught in these churches. Perhaps if they knew, they’d be leery of using them. If you’re going to call into question the Asbury Revival because there is Hillsong or Bethel music, to be logically consistent one must call into question the authenticity of every church that has ever played one of these songs.
I have seen the one – ONE – very short clip that supposedly shows a demon being cast out. Several problems here. We don’t see what happens before or after. These people could be anybody. We don’t see anyone leading the service coming off the stage to be part of the event. We don’t see if the people were eventually escorted out.
But here’s one last problem with this. Even if you don’t believe in charismatic gifts, the spiritual darkness of this world didn’t just up and go away with the conclusion of the canon of scripture. I certainly believe there are charlatans posing as exorcists for personal gain and/or notoriety. But I also believe that demon possession is just as possible today as it was in Jesus’ day.
To be clear. I am not saying the video clip shows a real example of demon possession. But we cannot say that it wasn’t either. It’s possible some well-intentioned people tried to do something about whatever was going on. If f you want to be cynical you can decide it was staged. And I admit that’s a real possibility as well. But that doesn’t mean everyone in that circle was in on it, nor does it mean Asbury was in on it.
That’s not Asbury’s fault, it doesn’t indict them since there’s no endorsement of it, nor does this event invalidate the services Asbury is conducting. Otherwise, I could walk into anybody’s church tomorrow, ask someone to videotape me, and start writhing on the floor screaming gibberish and acting incredibly angry, and we could accuse that church of wrongdoing.
Speaking in tongues? Same story. These are clips of audience members taking video and speaking in tongues while doing so. None of these are leaders or authoritative representatives of Asbury. None of the services have invited people to display charismatic gifts to my knowledge. Holding an entire movement responsible for the actions of a few is illogical and irresponsible – but helpful when seeking to sway opinions.
As for the female preachers’ charge, Asbury, as do several Christian denominations, support the ordination of female pastors. Does Friel have a running expose on any denomination that has females who are preachers? I will go back to what he said before – he says those in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement are orthodox believers. But they also ordain female pastors. So why isn’t he calling all those churches invalid? He’s trying to leave doors open that his logic demand he closes.
Not to mention that I have heard this is mostly student-led. If that’s 100% accurate, nobody has been ordained yet. I do personally wish we were seeing more young men step up, for their sake, but there could be countless reasons why we aren’t.
I don’t know that Friel is playing to the audience when he calls out female preachers. He may see it personally as a problem. But it is also an expedient critique because it will have traction for Friel’s conservative subset of listeners, which I would assume make up a large portion of his audience.
Overemphasis on the Holy Spirit
This critique seems to be concerned whether the Asbury Revival is leaning fully into charismatic practices or emotionalism.
Seeing a lot of interviews from people who have attended the revival, and I can’t help but notice the 3rd person of the Trinity gets mentioned a lot.
This is not definitive, but it could be a sign we’re witnessing a rather suspect movement. Why do I say that? Because the Holy Spirit’s role is not to focus on the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit’s role is to focus on Jesus so when a church service, a revival, an event, a ministry focuses so heavily on the Holy Spirt, we really should be a bit suspicious.
Is the Holy Spirit a member of the Trinity? Does He not deserve some reverence? Whenever events like these happen, it is typically attributed to a work of the Holy Spirit. I would expect revivals that fit Friel’s preferred definition focus more on Christ, since he would look for more gospel preaching. And that’s fine. But he also considers Pentecost a revival, where the Holy Spirit absolutely showed up.
I have also heard interviews regarding the Asbury Revival where God was mentioned, as well as Jesus. So perhaps the overemphasis is on cherry-picking certain clips and ignoring others.
I agree with Friel; this is not definitive. In fact, it proves nothing. It just another opportunity to set up doubt in the listener.
Friel’s Conclusions on the Asbury Revival
I’ve honestly written so much here that I don’t want to dive deeply into Friel’s concluding remarks in his video. This doesn’t reflect their inherit value, and frankly contains some good exhortation. But examining these statements would frankly take an entire article itself. It is enough to know that his comments affirm that he has already arrived at a decision about what the Asbury Revival might be, and what it isn’t. So let me just provide this quote, which I do not think I am taking out of context, but you can watch the video and see for yourself.
…Let’s hope that kids are being spiritually revived, meaning they are being encouraged and they are set in a trajectory of holiness, but to call this a regeneration revival that is sweeping the nation, I don’t think it meets the biblical criteria necessary to call it a revival in that sense.
I hope that after reading this article, you can read the above quote with a more understanding eye. It is important to test the spirits. It is also important to examine rightly. I think it’s wise for people to be watchful of what’s happening and observe the fruit going forward. But I’m afraid our culture has conditioned many of us to try to be the quickest with the hottest takes, with many on social media staking their livelihood on doing so. And this moves us further away from loving our neighbor. And that’s central to following Christ.
Said another way, to cleverly express doubt about something or someone – particularly something that God could be behind – could easily cross the line to accusation. False accusation is something the Bible warns repeatedly against. It’s even covered in one of the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:16). We shouldn’t blindly accept everything that comes our way, but it seems the more cautious side here is optimism, not pessimism, and let the fruit tell the tale.
I have no idea if Todd Friel will ever see this article. It’s more likely he does not. But whether he does or not, let me reiterate, I am not attacking Todd Friel. I would hope if we ever met, we could have a respectful conversation. I imagine that there are many who are edified and convinced by Friel’s many methods of reach and his personal faith convictions and testimony. There are far more combative examples online I could have chosen from, which is why I didn’t. I would much rather, as much as is dependent on me, life in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). I’m not even sure why I felt compelled to provide a counter prevailing view of the concerns raised regarding the Asbury Revival, but I did, so I’m just trying to walk in obedience and trust God for what He chooses to do with it.
My Concluding Thoughts
Some Commendable Voices
Let me say for the record, I believe that there are some people who are keeping a watchful eye on this movement and being somewhat more balanced. At least having some humility about the situation and not rushing to have a hot take as so many others have done.
If I had to point to any well-known influencer who is balancing optimism and caution about as well as I have seen, it would be Alisa Childers. She took the time to attend the Asbury Revival, and from what I heard her express in one interview, her father’s salvation experience is having an influence on her wanting to be optimistic. She’s also expressed the “where’s the gospel?” question, but I would again chalk that up to how she is choosing to define revival, and as it seems to be the prominent definition used by the critics. Therefore, I can understand why it would generate some skepticism for her.
I wish I could say I have seen others that I could hold up as a conscientious example, but I can’t. That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. If you know of one, let me know either through my social media channels or send me a message at abidingwithChrist.org, and if I agree I’ll update this article to include them.
One viewpoint I’m interested in is from Jon McCray, the person who runs the Whaddo You Meme?? YouTube channel, but as of this writing he has not commented on the Asbury Revival. That may mean he is taking a wait and see approach, and if that’s true, that itself deserves commendation.
My Hope for the Asbury Revival (and a caution)
I remain optimistic that this time of renewal at Asbury will produce fruit and a wave of repentance and renewed desire for the things of God across our nation. But I also recognize it is too early to make that call. Some of the criticisms I have seen do bring a heightened sense of concern, but many more of them come across as social media hot takes with little real examination. I find a lot of them to simply be parroting others and not producing any kind of humble examination of what’s going on.
To any of you for whom this article has produced a pause, please take great care that your concerns are reflected in the truth and a proper examination of evidence, not in circumstances, half-truths, or faulty reasoning.
I hope this article examining criticisms of the Asbury Revival has encouraged you to use a more critical eye on the nature of these criticisms, as they are not without their own problems. Perhaps it will encourage us all not to run quickly to any one person’s opinion, and instead take the time to reasonably form our own, based on our own faith in Christ and personal diligence.
And one final caution of my own. It can be true that God’s hand has been all over this, and also true that man can take what God has intended for good and tarnish it. I think the best course of action as it comes to the Asbury Revival is to pray that God magnifies what is pure and takes away the dross, and that what remains would be used for His glory. Pray that followers of Christ are empowered through the Asbury Revival to minister to the body and spread the good news into the world.
Authentic followers of Christ should all be praying for and hoping for the best possible outcome, because the truth is, the world is observing how we handle this. Let’s all be mindful of what our light looks like before the world.