An e-mail from an acquaintance in the Church of Christ describes a series of prayer meetings at which the author says that God’s presence was visibly manifested by “weeping, violent shaking, loud groanings and travail in the Spirit, ardent prayers and cries for the lost, trembling, tongues, prophecies, visions and the glory of God swooping around the room like a iridescent blueish light.” Do I have any comment?
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Many who make up the Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ would be surprised to learn that their own “restoration movement” had roots in the great Cane Ridge (Kentucky) Revival of 1801 which was marked by many of the same phenomena described above. The negative reaction to such manifestations by Presbyterian officials led revivalist Barton W. Stone to leave that denomination, eventually merging his movement with that of Alexander Campbell.
Within a few years, Campbell’s rationalism and anti-supernaturalism largely drowned out Stone’s “other-worldliness” and strong belief that God still works outside the Bible itself. By the beginning of the 20th century, spiritual descendants of the Stone-Campbell movement almost all rejected any possibility of the same supernatural manifestations which had been part of one founder’s personal observation and experience. Concerning the arrival of “the perfect” and the cessation of spiritual gifts, Stone himself once wrote: “That time has never yet come; nor can we expect it in this state of mortality” (Christian Messenger, August 1835, page 179).
l happen to believe that Brother Stone was onto something important, and that Brother Campbell’s “common-sense” approach and “pattern” theology generally ignored the first two-thirds of the Bible and quenched one-third of the Godhead. I personally rejoice at every report of God’s working. Our world and nation and towns and churches certainly need a powerful move of God to set us right again and to move us into God’s future. I would rejoice exceedingly if God should choose to “visit” my own comfortable, big-city church some Sunday morning with remarkable demonstrations and a powerful, visible outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We could all probably profit from a heavenly jump-start from time to time.