Dr. Arnold Cook

Guest Contributions




Dr. Arnold L. Cook

Critics of revival would argue that manifestations are dangerous because they always produce extremism and hyper emotionalism.  A pastor, whose church experienced an unusual prolonged moving of God, wrote a book.  He titled it: "Pastoring a Revival is Messy."  He describes all the difficult issues of church discipline that must be handled during a revival.

Those of us who live in Central Canada, especially the Toronto area, remember well the phenomenon of the latter 1990s.  I refer to what was called "The Toronto Blessing" or "The Airport Blessing."  The controversy surrounding this movement centered on the extreme emotional manifestations.  In addition to people falling backwards, presumably under the influence of Spirit, there was uncontrollable laughter, animal noises and constant shaking.

These were justified by the leadership by tracing this phenomena to the Great Awakening under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards in the 18th century.  Those who opposed them argued that the leadership failure to control such aberrations, led to the untimely ceasing of that "great awakening." In the Toronto setting, the Vineyard movement, which initially supported it, later disassociated themselves from the "Airport Blessing" precisely for the failure of leadership to control obvious excesses. 

Certainly the spiritual gift of "the discerning of spirits" is needed at all times, but especially in these "last days." John admonished the church with these words:  "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I Jn. 4:1).

Certainly emotional extremism has accompanied many genuine visitations of God.  These must be handled wisely and decisively by leadership.  In one revival the leadership authorized the ushers to remove any persons from the services whom they discerned were manifesting themselves in the flesh.  We also need to note that in many genuine movings of the Spirit there has been practically no serious aberrations.  This was true of the Western Canadian Revival in the early 1970s. 

John Wesley, in his latter years, sensed that the Methodist movement was losing its spiritual vitality.  He was heard to pray: "Oh God send us again the old time revival --but without the defects --but if that's not possible Lord, send it any how --we desperately need it." 

One thing is clear.  If we as leaders are not ready to handle "wild fire" we will never see the "real fire" of true revival. 

Dr Arnold Cook, April 18, 2006  

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