01 Does the Historical Phenomenon of Revival Have a Recognisable 'Pattern' of Characteristic, Observable Features?

Jeff Stacey, ,

Does the Historical Phenomenon of Revival Have a Recognisable 'Pattern' of Characteristic, Observable Features?

by Jeff Stacey

Paper Delivered at the Pentecostal Heritage Conference, Heritage 2003: Revival, Southern Cross College, July 2003.

The problem of definition

In a panel discussion on 15 July 2003 at the conclusion of the Southern Cross College 'Heritage 2003: Revival' Conference, Robert Linder, Professor of History at Kansas State University, declared that: 'Definition is everything if we are going to talk about revivalism. I think the key word that explains all the component parts is repentance, so that revival or revivalism is the history of spiritual renewals'.

This was yet another indication of the ongoing difficulties and controversies over definitions of revival and its associated terminology. For example, Dr J.Edwin Orr once protested: 'The American misuse of "revivalism" for "mass evangelism" is unscriptural and unhistorical, ambiguous, inadequate, pejorative and illogical, and therefore unscholarly!'1 Perhaps the ultimate statement of the issue was by Australian anthropologist Dr John Rudder, who with his wife was personally involved in the 1979 Elcho Island revival. He commented at the 'Reviving Australia' Conference in 1994 that: 'The problem with revival now is that it means whatever you want it to mean!'2

Basic questions

There are at least four basic questions that a definition of revival has to address:-

1. Is there actually an historical phenomenon, now known as 'revival'?

2. If so, can it be identified by a repeatable 'pattern' of characteristic features?

3. Would this 'pattern' be defined theologically, or historically, or both?

4. Can such a definition be derived and articulated from the Bible?

Taking the last question first, a definition cannot be produced directly from the Bible, because the term 'revival' did not originate from there. Instead, it developed by popular usage after c.1700, deriving from the expression 'a revival of religion'.3 This further accentuates the difficulties surrounding the meaning of 'revival'.

The first question can really only be answered empirically by means of the second. That is, if various claimed cases of revival were in fact repetitions of the same historical phenomenon, then there would be some kind of constant 'pattern' in the nature of the events which occurred. If such a pattern of historical characteristics were able to be identified, a general description of revival in these terms could be provided. This would then set boundaries within which the underlying theology could be explored. Thus a logical sequence for addressing the third question becomes apparent.

The following summarises, mainly by means of excerpts, my recently completed research thesis which explored these questions.

Revivals in history - events versus interpretations

I began by noting the many occasions in history when there have been exceptional increases in Christian fervour and conversions, with the expansion of churches.4 These have ranged from localised happenings to international movements.5 Some have had significant influences upon their wider communities and even whole nations and cultures.6 Consequently there has been sustained interest in the causes and prominent features of such events.7 They remain important for any study of history as well as of theology, having relevance for both the church and society in the present and future.8

These events have often come to be known as 'revivals', or more theoretically, to be seen as examples of an historical, religious phenomenon known as 'revival'.9 But because its specific nature has not been as precisely articulated as the importance of the subject warrants, 'revival' has often been misunderstood and discredited.10 Although it has been variously defined theologically,11 such definitions require consistent demonstration by actual historical events. Otherwise the issue degenerates into presuppositional debates about theological interpretations, often based on scant historical evidence.

Revival literature concerning the Bible

Most of the literature concerning revival is homiletic.12 In relation to the interpretation of revival, there are surprisingly few books containing specific historical or theological exploration of relevant biblical material.13 Those with a historical perspective are generally more concerned with identifying and expounding examples of revival-like occurrences in the Bible (particularly those in the Old Testament) than with clarifying their characteristic features. So it is apparent that many lines of biblical inquiry regarding the definition of revival are open for further research.

Revival literature - historical records and research

There has been a growing body of academic literature about revival resulting from research into primary historical sources.14 In many cases such original documents have never previously been seriously examined nor have rigorous histories been written. Indeed some significant past revivals are now virtually unknown and the remaining records of them are in danger of being lost.15

Probably nowhere is this problem more acute than in Australia, where numerous localised revivals have occurred, yet the common view is that 'there has never been a religious revival in Australia'.16 However, the recent publication of Robert Evans' major research findings, primarily for revivals associated with Methodist churches for the period up to 1880, has done much to address this lack of Australian information.17 Obviously these ongoing research efforts are vitally important for the conservation and publishing of historical records, as well as for providing essential sources of data relevant to the exploration of the nature of revival.

The historical characteristics of revival

Of course, to speak of 'the phenomenon of revival' presupposes that there is such an identifiable historical entity. It is recognised that although each situation in history is in essence unique, it is also apparent that historical narratives can deal with events of a similar kind. By way of illustration, the many historical accounts of wars contain recurring themes which are part of the very nature of all wars. Therefore such narratives could be dissected so as to identify the characteristics of war as a phenomenon of history.

Similarly, historical narratives of revivals can be analysed in an attempt to clarify the characteristics of revival as an historical phenomenon. This can be done by identifying all of the historical features recorded by the authors, whether described in general terms, emphasised in detail or merely mentioned incidentally.18 Then those which are repeatedly prominent can be regarded as characteristic of the events described.

Defining revival both historically and theologically - the Bible as precedent

Underlying this approach is the assumption that 'revival' must first be established as an historical phenomenon from records both within the Bible and since, before attempting to formulate comprehensive theological or other interpretations of it. In other words, unless there are some boundaries set to the historical events that are being called 'revivals', the whole notion becomes arbitrary, subjective and at worst virtually meaningless.

When studying the Bible, a primary challenge is to discover theological truths from its didactic portions and then to express these in propositional form. But it is seen as highly significant that the Bible grounds its theological assertions both upon and within certain historical events.19 Put simply, its theology is both revealed and illustrated by means of history. So the findings of purely theological exploration of the Bible are constantly illuminated and constrained by interaction with its historical material. This dialectic process needs to be appreciated so that the distinctive roles of the Bible's theological and historical components are not confused. Similarly, the attempt to define 'revival' essentially involves both historical and theological study. That is, as with biblical theology, good historical work must accompany or even precede sound theological interpretation.

Types of definition of revival

Various existing definitions of revival contain references to their observable features. For example, the historical segment of Piggin's definition states:

Revival is . . . converting . . . large numbers of people at the same time, and is therefore a community experience. It is occasionally preceded by an expectation that God is about to do something exceptional; it is usually preceded by an extraordinary unity and prayerfulness among Christians; and it is always accompanied by the revitalisation of the church, the conversion of large numbers of unbelievers and the diminution of sinful practices in the community.20

Although necessarily containing some theological allusions, this definition of historical characteristics is potentially useful. It not only describes specific features but also implies that these conform to a 'pattern' of essential, probable and possible aspects of any revival.

However, the historical components of other definitions of revival are often less clear, in that observed features tend to overlap with their theological interpretations. The following is a fairly typical example:

A genuine spiritual revival may be defined as occurring when:

1. The people of God are stirred to pray fervently for the low state of the church, and for the unconverted world.

2. Powerful preachers of the gospel are raised up by God to proclaim the gospel with unusual spiritual force.

3. The church is convicted of a deep sense of sin before a holy God.

4. Individuals and churches repent of specific sins.

5. A new sense of joy permeates the church, making the gospel and the things of God become real.

6. The Christian church has a marked impact upon the surrounding community.

7. God works visibly in supernatural ways.21

This kind of definition is entirely valid and indeed vitally important for Christian interpretation and ministry, and is the predominant type to be found in the literature. But the main difficulty with this approach to historical events is that it is an 'insider's view', focussing on theologically-based interpretations of the responses of participants. It lacks the historical objectivity required to withstand scrutiny and acceptance by those who do not share the same theological perspectives.

Therefore what is needed primarily is the identification of those historical features which have been characteristically associated with revivals. The aim would be to describe with sufficient precision and clarity, features readily observable by anyone and thus recognisable if they occur. This may result in a rather less than 'spiritual-sounding' description, but it is seen to be the kind of approach necessary at present to both clarify and validate the historical phenomenon of revival. Of course, any full definition of revival would contain both historical and theological segments.22

Some consequences of the origins of revival terminology

There are several consequences of the fact that the specific religious usage of the word 'revival' only originated after c.1700. Immediately it raises the fundamental question of whether there were any revivals prior to the eighteenth century, and if so, was any particular notice taken of them in earlier writings. However, it appears that the emergence of the notion of 'revival' was merely the result of changed emphases in theological thought, much of it associated with a shift of focus from Britain to North America, rather than as denoting a new historical phenomenon.23

These origins also mean that attempts to develop an understanding of the phenomenon of revival cannot begin directly with the Bible.24 Instead, an initial conceptual meaning of the word has to be derived from the historical accounts of those actual events since 1700 which have become known and acknowledged as 'revivals'. Only then can this meaning be applied to other similar events prior to 1700, or be made the subject of extended biblical investigation, or indeed be the basis for evaluation of the word 'revival' as being the most appropriate terminology.

Research methodology

For these reasons, the following research methodology was adopted. Firstly, preliminary 'case studies' of two post-1700 revivals were undertaken. Those chosen were the 1734-35 and 1740-42 revivals at Northampton, Massachusetts, in which Jonathan Edwards was vitally involved. The primary sources for these analyses were Edwards' famous historical accounts, which are generally recognised as being classic descriptions of revivals.25 After a brief overview of the historical setting and of Edwards' life, the historicity and emphases of these documents were critically evaluated relative to his circumstances and purposes when writing them. The observed features of each of the revivals, as he recorded them, were then summarised.

Secondly, the question of identifying similar types of historical events in the Bible was considered. This was based on seeking any narratives which recorded historical features, especially multiple conversions, that resembled those of the Northampton revivals. Following a review of the literature concerning revivals in the Bible, The Acts of the Apostles (Acts) was chosen as the point of entry for such a study. Initially consideration was given to various critical evaluations of the historicity and emphases of Acts relative to its authorship, contexts and purposes. This was followed by a detailed audit, categorisation and tabulation of historical features of the events it records.

Thirdly, the results from this analysis of Acts were then used as the basis of a much more detailed dissection of the historical features of the two Northampton revivals. This evaluation aimed to establish whether there were sufficient features in common in all three cases, for them to be indicative of a 'pattern' underlying the same historical phenomenon. Finally, based on this assessment, a concise description of the characteristics of the historical phenomenon of revival was presented and some of its implications discussed.

Obviously the scope of this project was delineated by the limited number of revivals studied. Its conclusions would therefore require further validation through applying them to numerous other historical cases of revival. Nevertheless it was intended as an initial exploration and was considered warranted and potentially important, in view of the lack of thorough research into the historical 'patterns' of revival. The following outlines some aspects of the analysis and the main findings.

The two Northampton revivals

The preliminary analysis of the two Northampton revivals identified a number of prominent features. Notable examples were the prevalence and roles of outstanding Christian leaders, multiple conversions to the Christian faith by all manner of people over relatively short periods of time, their constant gathering as devout communities of believers, the rapid development of all this into a geographically widespread 'movement' and the strident controversies which it provoked. A sense of 'immediacy of the Divine'26 was perceived and taken to be the central cause of all the other remarkable events, as the following excerpts from a famous passage of A faithful narrative indicate:

The Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in and wonderfully to work amongst us; and there were very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons who were to all appearances savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner . . . Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion and the eternal world became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees and all ages . . . and the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ . . . This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town: so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God's presence in almost every house.27

It was apparent that these revivals had at least three clear 'phases', the most obvious being when there were multiple conversions, with the other two phases being the lead-up and follow-on of this remarkable central period. These were termed the 'before', 'during' and 'after' phases of the revivals. However, the beginning of each 'during' phase was marked by some extraordinary 'trigger' events which led to the first flow of conversions. To clearly highlight this, another phase was introduced, being the 'start' phase.

Biblical research options

When considering the selection of relevant primary biblical sources, a number of books which deal with various purported examples of 'revival' from both Testaments were examined. It should be noted that none of these literary sources claimed to cover all possible biblical accounts of revivals. A tabulated summary of this literature and of all the examples identified was drawn up, those from the OT and NT being listed separately. A preliminary evaluation of these as being examples of revival was then attempted, based on whether the historical features they recorded were somewhat analogous to those which occurred at Northampton.

OT cases not appropriate

It was immediately apparent that the latter had been expressed entirely in terms of NT categories. This indicated that OT cases cannot be regarded as directly comparable on the basis of their historical features.28 For example, the NT concept and experience of Christian conversion simply does not occur as a historical feature in the OT: 'The Old Testament contains prophecies of the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people as a whole, but it does not report any historical occurrences of it'.29 Therefore material from the OT was considered as being outside the scope of the study, although it would obviously be relevant to the development of a biblical theology of revival, or perhaps as being indirectly comparable historically.30

Possible NT cases

The NT cases were thus the only ones which were potentially applicable. Table 1 lists the various biblical passages as identified in eight relevant literary sources. However, it was concluded that the perspectives of all these sources did not emphasise the historical features of biblical revivals. Further, any treatment of 'patterns' to which these features might conform was theologically rather than historically based. Therefore this literature did not provide a well defined point of entry for biblical research in relation to the focus of my thesis.

Table 1


Relevant literary sources, listed in chronological order of writing or publication

1. J.Munro, 'Encouragements from the history of the church under the Old and the New Testament dispensations, to expect, pray, and labour for the revival of religion', in The revival of religion: addresses by Scottish evangelical Leaders delivered in Glasgow in 1840 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1984), 258-280.

2. E.Baker, The revivals of the Bible (Capetown: Miller, 1906), 9-126.

3. Robert E.Coleman, Dry bones can live again (Old Tappan: Revell, 1969), 46-52.

4. Geoffrey Bingham, Dry bones dancing! (Adelaide: New Creation, 1983), 23-27, 38-49.

5. R.H.Lescelius, 'Revival and the history of the church', Reformation today, (1990), 5-6.

6. R.E.Davies, I will pour out my Spirit: a history and theology of revivals and evangelical  awakenings (Tunbridge Wells: Monarch, 1992), 43-48.

7. Robert Evans and Roy McKenzie, Evangelical revivals in New Zealand (Paihia: Colcom, 1999), 302-3.

8. Stuart Piggin, Firestorm of the Lord (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2000), 25-43.

Biblical passages (and subjects) Reference numbers of literary sources which refer to these passages
Matthew 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-20, John 1:19-36, 3:22-4:2 (John the Baptist: forerunner of Jesus' ministry) 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8
Matthew 10:1-8, Mark 6:7-13 (Twelve: first preaching/healing tour)  6
Luke 4:14-15, 31-44, 5:12-16 (Jesus: start of His ministry in Galilee)  6
Luke 5:17-26, 8:1-4 (Jesus: amid opposition, more crowds/miracles)  6
Luke 10:1-20 (Seventy: preaching/healing tour) 6
Acts 2:1-41 (Peter: the Day of Pentecost) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Acts 4:1-4,5-22,23-33 (Peter and John: advances amid persecutions) 1, 3, 5, 6
Acts 5:11-14 (Peter: conversions after deaths of Ananias/Sapphira) 1, 3
Acts 6:1, 7 (Apostles: conversions after appointment of 7 deacons)  1, 3
Acts 8:4-25 (Philip, Peter and John: miracles/conversions in Samaria) 2, 3, 6, 7, 8
Acts 10:1-11:18 (Peter: Gentile conversions at Caesarea) 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8
Acts 11:19-26 (Barnabas, Paul and others: conversions at Antioch) 1, 2, 3, 6, 7
Acts 13:44-52 (Paul and Barnabas: conversions at Pisidian Antioch)  1, 3, 6
Acts 14:1-7 (Paul and Barnabas: conversions at Iconium) 1, 6
Acts 14:20-23 (Paul and Barnabas: conversions at Derbe) 6
Acts 15:40-16:5 (Paul and Silas: churches strengthened and increase) 1
Acts 16:6-40 (Paul and others: conversions at Philippi) 2, 3, 6
Acts 17:1-9 (Paul and others: conversions at Thessalonica)  1, 3, 6
Acts 17:10-15 (Paul and others: conversions at Berea) 1
Acts 17:16-34 (Paul and others: conversions at Athens) 1
Acts 18:1-17 (Paul and others: conversions at Corinth) 1, 6
Acts 19:1-41 (Paul and others: conversions at Ephesus) 1, 3, 6, 7

Acts chosen

Davies notes that the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus did have some 'revival features' such as miracles, amazement, crowds, some people believing, baptisms and so on.31 But again the full concept of Christian conversion as a total personal transformation by the indwelling Holy Spirit, while promised and expounded by Jesus, is only 'previewed' in the Gospels by the occasional words or actions of His followers.32 Instead, during His lifetime, their more typical reactions were to misunderstand and fail Him.33

As my focus was upon the historical attributes of Christian revivals, the era following the 'outpouring of the Holy Spirit' on the Day of Pentecost was the most obvious place to begin in the NT. Acts records the start of this era, with the first Christian conversions. It also includes descriptions of features which have similarities to those identified in the revivals at Northampton. All eight literary sources identified the Day of Pentecost as a revival, which is also seen as the 'pattern revival' by several commentators and is generally regarded as the 'birth of the Church'. Furthermore, seventeen of the twenty-two NT examples listed in Table 1 are from Acts 2-19. Taken together, these factors provided sufficient grounds for adopting Acts as the starting point for biblical research into the historical features of revival.

The nature of Acts

Acts presents a chronological historical sketch of the origins and early life of some of the first Christian churches, covering a period of at least 30 years.34 The descriptions in its narrative units contain a wealth of specific, detailed information about events as the author Luke observed them or as they had been recorded and/or reported to him by others.35 Luke's narratives are highly anecdotal and specific,36 and refer to repeated occurrences of similar types of observed features at successive locations. Although his recording of various features of historical events was often only incidental to his purposes, yet for this very reason such historical data increase in credibility and value.37

Dissection and analysis of Acts

An attempt was made to identify and categorise all the observed features of historical events that are mentioned in Acts. Any characteristic revival 'pattern' might then be indicated by the nature of these features, together with the sequences, frequencies and distribution of their occurrences across the various phases and locations of the overall historical 'movement' as described.

The theologically explanatory material, which is mostly contained in the speeches, was not specifically identified because only the strictly historical data were being considered.38 However, descriptive material which refers to 'Divine encounters' with the Holy Spirit, Jesus, angels, visions or voices, or to other miraculous or unusual occurrences, was taken to represent actual historical events and therefore was included.

It was possible to classify almost all of the Acts data under 15 category headings and 87 feature descriptions, based on a dissection of the biblical text (NIV). The data were collected and tabulated as representing separate occurrences of each feature. A total of 1292 verse segments were identified as representing these features, of which only 11 segments (0.9 percent) did not readily fit into the descriptions adopted.

Such classification of the data was done with care, endeavouring to resist tendencies to make them conform to preconceived categories. Repeated reworking was necessary in order to develop appropriate category headings and descriptive wordings for all features. The aims were to accurately summarise the data without any overlapping of categories or descriptions, while minimising the subdividing of the text.39

Identifying separate occurrences

One issue was whether different mentions in the text represent the same or separate occurrences. Conversely, there are a few instances where separate occurrences of the same or similar features are mentioned in close proximity and even in the same setting. The scope of an 'occurrence' also varies considerably depending on how it is described in the text. A few very broad category descriptions were adopted, which reflected the 'summary' wording of the text itself at various points. There are also some single references to multiple occurrences which involved either one or several locations, which were treated as at least a single occurrence. 1020 separate occurrences were identified, of which 92 percent derived from specific anecdotes rather than more generalised statements.

Identification of four 'phases'

Decisions had to be made as to whether, like the Northampton revivals, there were four 'phases' in the events at each location and if so, what indicated their extent. Jerusalem can be regarded as the first location or affected community (Acts 1:1-8:3) and the 'start' phase there was obviously 'triggered' by the dramatic happenings on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41). Therefore the 'before' phase at Jerusalem can be taken as the immediately preceding period (Acts 1:10-26).40

Similarly, the 'during' phase at Jerusalem was regarded as commencing after the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:42ff). There were several later setbacks (Acts 4:1-22, 5:1-11,17-40, 6:1-6) but these did not halt further expansion (Acts 4:4, 5:14, 6:1,7). Only with the violent persecution of the initial church and its scattering after the 'trial' and stoning of Stephen (Acts 6:9-8:3) did the major advance in Jerusalem apparently come to a halt, which is taken as the end of its 'during' phase. The 'after' phase can be pieced together from other data concerning various subsequent events in Jerusalem, as recorded later in Acts.

Following the dispersal from Jerusalem, Acts recounts the pioneering travels of a number of Apostles and other leaders throughout the north-eastern Mediterranean regions of the Roman Empire. Their preaching and associated miracles resulted in a great many more people coming to believe in Jesus Christ. It is possible to identify at least a further 26 cities, towns or other places by name (as well as most of their Roman provinces) where this occurred.

The Acts data for all locations were tabulated, with 'before', 'start', 'during' and 'after' phases identified where possible, each separate occurrence being indicated by verse references. Whilst the data for some locations are so brief that they seem insignificant, the events at all of these locations did not happen in isolation, but were part of a geographically expanding 'movement'. Hence the data for all locations in Acts were included.

Recorded frequencies of occurrence: apparently characteristic features?

No pattern was found in sequences of occurrence. But the recorded frequencies of the occurrences of some features were far greater than others, with several being spread over numerous locations. These were therefore regarded as apparently characteristic features and were the basis of comparison with the two Northampton revivals.

It is acknowledged that such an analysis must be qualified by the limitations of the Acts data. For example, it was realised that recorded frequencies of occurrence may reflect neither the actual frequencies nor real significance of some features. Yet the conclusions drawn do at least represent the results of an exhaustive assessment of the data available.

As a brief overview of the first thirty years or so of the church's existence and expansion, Acts is selective and emphasises the 'highlights'.41 Generally the very positive features are recorded, such as powerful gospel proclamation, multiple responses, supernatural happenings, overcoming of formidable opposition, and overall 'success' in terms of geographical advance.42 However, this does not necessarily mean that the features thus emphasised were not characteristic of the events described. In fact, the reverse would tend to be the case. That is, it was precisely because of repeated occurrences of various unusual features that they were recorded so prominently.

More detailed analysis of Edwards' narratives

Using only Edwards' accounts as the primary source documents, it was possible with very few exceptions to classify all of the data from the two Northampton revivals under identical or very similar categories and individual feature descriptions as were used for Acts, and in the same 'four phase' structure. However, Edwards' descriptions are less anecdotal, so that specific occurrences could only be identified in about 30 percent of the data. Thus direct comparisons based on frequencies of occurrence were not feasible. Instead it was necessary to evaluate the prominence and significance of each feature separately, as assessed from Edwards' references to them.

Criteria for comparison of results

In proceeding with comparisons of the features recorded in Acts and for Northampton, three fundamental questions were addressed. Firstly, were some features which were claimed to have been 'observed' actually only interpretations of certain events? Obviously some features by their very nature imply a considerable amount of interpretation, especially those which involve substantial spiritual dimensions.

Secondly, could some or even all features be regarded as merely commonplace, typically occurring whenever a Christian church or churches are carrying out a substantial range of their usual activities? Clearly many of the categories and features were potentially exceptional, but this would be a matter of degree. Comparisons with the same features well before and after the revival period, when they could be expected to be at a more 'commonplace level', was therefore necessary.

Thirdly, were the observed features in Acts really comparable or 'equivalent' to those at Northampton? Historical contexts needed to be examined, as well as the categorisations and descriptions adopted, in an attempt to clarify what was the essential nature of features in each case. Where they appeared to have been rather different, more detailed exploration of such variations was required. It is unfortunate that space limitations preclude these extensive discussions of several features, such as 'unusual behaviour' associated with 'Divine encounters'.

Strong correlations

The results of these evaluations are set out in Table 2, which show a high level of correlation between the apparently characteristic categories and descriptions of features in Acts and the two Northampton revivals. In summary, 87 (85 percent) of the total of 102 were the same for all three cases. A further nine (9 percent) only differed in phases, while the remaining six (6 percent) were unique to Acts. In addition, all 34 for each of the two Northampton revivals were identical.

Therefore it was reasonable to conclude that all of the 96 apparently characteristic categories and/or descriptions of features, identified as being common both to the events in Acts and the two Northampton revivals, were in fact characteristic in each case, not just apparently so. On this basis, it was further concluded that the events recorded in Acts were the first historical examples of the 'revival' phenomenon. Its characteristic features appeared frequently in the overall widespread 'movement', occurring repeatedly in its particular localised expressions.

Table 2


The Apostles or other leaders

• Were identified specifically by name





• New ones emerged 1734-35



• They had key roles both as public gospel proclaimers and in caring for churches Acts












Descriptions of situations        
• Long journeys by Apostles/leaders   Acts   Acts
• The geographical scope of the 'movement' extended well beyond local communities and their surrounding regions Acts












• Positive circumstances, beliefs and other influences upon non-believers' receptivity to the gospel Acts






Public proclamation of the gospel by the Apostles, other leaders or  believers        
• Preached the gospel  












• Use of the Scriptures in gospel proclamation and teaching  












• All forms of gospel proclamation  












The gospel demonstrated by miraculous or unusual events        
• Positive miracles (all types)   Acts Acts  
• Negative unusual events - people manifested demonised behaviour     Acts (?) 1734-5


The gospel demonstrated by 'Divine encounters' with the Holy Spirit   Acts Acts



Initial reactions by people to the miraculous or unusual events or 'Divine encounters'   Acts Acts  
Positive responses to the proclamation of the gospel:-        
• Non-believers repented and believed the gospel   Acts 1734-5


• The number of new believers was relatively large   Acts 1734-5


• Positive responses were primarily due to gospel proclamation, although often associated with the supernatural (miraculous or unusual events or 'Divine encounters')   Acts 1734-5


• All positive responses   Acts 1734-5


Negative responses to the proclamation of the gospel:-        
• The Apostles, other leaders and/or  believers were opposed by  religious or other authorities/crowds   Acts






Positive activities (or 'intensification' of them) within the communities of believers/churches   Acts



Negative activities within the communities of believers/churches which developed in the longer term (concerning both doctrine and practice)       Acts



A concise historical description of revival

A concise historical description of revival incorporating these findings was then drawn up. All four phases were included, because although only the 'start' and 'during' phases were in effect the 'revival proper', they arose out of 'before' phases and virtually created the 'after' phases.

The features embraced by the description were limited to those which were identified as characteristic in the same phases both in Acts and the two Northampton revivals. However, there was some overlapping for the 'start' and 'during' phases, particularly in regard to positive responses to the gospel. This was due to the way they were recorded in each case, including difficulties in identifying the 'boundary' between these two phases in some instances. On the basis of these criteria, the following is a concise description of the historical phenomenon of revival:

In terms of its historical features, revival can be regarded as having four phases.

The 'before' phase is characterised by the activities of a network of wholeheartedly committed Christian leaders, in many locations. There are also various prior influences on some non-believers, which positively affect their receptivity to the gospel.

The 'start' phase is characterised by very effective gospel proclamation by these leaders and others, especially by preaching. This is often accompanied by various forms of 'Divine encounters' with the Holy Spirit. Very positive responses occur, especially conversions to Christianity.

The 'during' phase is characterised by a continuation of the features of the 'start' phase. Relatively large numbers of people are converted, in a relatively short period of time, over a relatively wide geographical region. The new believers are formed into local churches, as communities of dedicated Christians. They gather frequently to enjoy fervent worship and to be encouraged through teaching and mutual caring relationships. But a negative outcome is opposition from religious or other authorities, crowds or individuals, which can at times be so severe as to end the 'during' phase.

The 'after' phase is characterised initially by few further conversions and by increasing opposition, putting pressures upon all the Christians. Yet there is ongoing strong leadership of the churches and generally positive activities within them, especially the sustained explanatory teaching of the Bible. But in the longer term some Christians' degree of commitment tends to diminish, and various problems concerning both doctrines and behaviour develop within the churches. This detracts from their dynamic community life and proclamation of the gospel. However, the leaders generally remain faithful and continue to exhort the churches to return to wholehearted commitment.

This description represents only a partial 'definition of revival', due to being expressed entirely in historical terms, without essential theological dimensions.43 It must also remain tentative until it has been tested by means of further historical case studies of other revivals. Nevertheless the findings from the analysis of Acts can stand as the benchmark for all other comparisons.44

Applications of this concise historical description

The description may seem rather mundane and obvious and therefore appear to be of limited usefulness. But it is argued that its value lies in the rigour of its historical basis and the consequent boundaries this sets to any theories, theologies or historical claims concerning revivals. For example:-

• Many 'renewal movements' which did not involve multiple conversions, would not 'qualify' as revivals on the basis of this description.

• There is no support for the common view that church declension necessarily precedes revival.

• Accurate and effective communication of the gospel should always be prominent.

• The prevalence of 'Divine encounters' should be recognised, although the various observable forms that these might take cannot be specified precisely. They differ widely and also rely on theological and pastoral insights for their correct identification and significance.

• Geographical scope is also relevant, so that 'revivals' involving only very localised multiple conversions could be disputed.

• The endings of 'during' phases are not necessarily due to the failures of Christians, but could be the result of severe opposition.

• The negative features of the ongoing 'after' phase also raise questions as to the role of revival in a wider view of church life and history.

All of the above illustrate the value of having limits set to the 'envelope' of the historical features of revival, as well as the need for a similar defining of its theological boundaries. Although its content is rather generalised, this description allows a flexible yet still definite 'pattern' of characteristic observable features to be applied.

Revival terminology

The appropriateness of the word 'revival' to represent such an historical phenomenon can now be considered. But the value of pursuing this whole question of terminology is in some respects debatable, as Murray has commented:

It may be argued that any attempt to define 'revival' is pointless for the word itself is not scriptural and indeed, as J.W.Alexander says, 'may not be wisely chosen.' But rightly or wrongly, it was chosen, and its sense was commonly recognized over a long period of time.45

In fact the 'choice' of the word was not deliberate and was based neither on a clear definition nor a biblical derivation, but merely evolved through usage. So it is not surprising that Murray went on to say: 'An understanding of the way in which that sense became confused is essential if we are to follow what has happened in history'.46

Semantic development and change

It could even be argued that the long-term usage of the word has actually contributed to the confusion which has resulted. For example, there is a semantic interaction which occurs between a word and the meanings that it expresses. That is, a word initially used to denote a phenomenon can itself assume connotations when applied to 'repetitions' of that phenomenon. This is due to the limitations and unintentional nuances of the chosen word.47

So in the case of the word 'revival', the very usage of that term can conjure up certain concepts and expectations in the mind, which may in fact be misleading concerning its true nature. This is particularly so in regard to the prefix 're-', which implies some kind of a repetition. But this is ambiguous, as 'revival' could be taken to mean a restoration of the kind of ideal church life variously depicted in the New Testament, or the return by a corrupted church to a more healthy spiritual state,48 or merely a repetition of some particular features.

Further refinements of terminology

The above historical description of revival could simply be seen as depicting (in observable terms) 'a flourishing of Christianity', which is much the same as the 'revival of religion' notion of Edwards' time. However, such a broad rendering has usually been further refined in particular historical cases, to emphasise specific aspects and variants. Hence additional descriptive terms have been adopted, such as 'folk-movement', 'visitation', 'awakening', 'renewal', 'spiritual revitalisation', 'restoration' and 'reformation'. The first three of these are usually applied to the more 'missionary' type of movement, while the latter four commonly refer to a new flourishing associated with existing church situations (as implied by their 're-' prefixes). Another more recently popular term is 'transformation', a description emphasising the beneficial changes brought to whole communities. Sometimes these terms are also given preceding theological qualifiers, such as 'evangelical' or 'charismatic', each involving additional definitions.49 Then again, various eminent writers on the subject of revival have chosen to give different definitions to the same terms, while others have attempted to standardise their meanings.50

Terminology already too confused

Murray is surely right in saying that 'Certainly it is not a matter of principle that the term should be retained. It is the thing itself, not the word, which matters'.51 Ideally, a biblically-derived terminology would be developed, and perhaps it is worth noting that a few of the occurrences of 'revive(d)' and 'reviving' in modern English Bible translations do in fact have some appropriate spiritual connotations.52 These can thus be useful homiletically, although having no relevance to word derivations or as historical examples.

But to try and develop and commend some further definitive terminology would probably now only add to the confusion about revival. Instead, the proposed historical description is seen to be more useful, providing specific content to the historical aspects of whatever terminology is used. This of course would require supplementing by an equivalent, biblically-derived, theological description.

Experiences versus histories of revival

Another significant aspect is that the terminology used expresses the perceptions of those using it, which in turn reflect their actual experiences of revival. Therefore it is not surprising that in contemporary Western Christianity, with its general lack of recent revivals, the meanings of the word have drifted and apply to other quite different entities. To correct this involves appeals to both theology and history. Yet theology again tends to reflect only the limits of perception and experience of the theologian, whereas historical narratives can contain elements outside the range of such experiences. Hence the records and analyses of past revivals are vital in giving a correct understanding of what the phenomenon involves, thus clarifying the terminology used.53

Furthermore, as demonstrated by both Acts and A faithful narrative, such historical accounts can actually contribute significantly to the recurrence of revival, by bringing awareness of unfamiliar events.54 This can especially be so if the past revivals occurred within the same culture or even locations where they are later studied. Thus in North America a whole tradition of revival developed, in which the writings of Edwards and records of other renowned revivals later became key sources of inspiration.

But the substantial revival history in Australia is still largely unknown, with leading figures such as Rev. John Watsford being unheard of. His autobiography is now a rare book,55 yet it contains many accounts of remarkable revivals in this country during the nineteenth century:

Some of the local preachers and leaders in Sydney and Parramatta were men of great spiritual power, men who believed in prayer and fasting . . . They believed in the Holy Ghost, and pleaded for His coming in connection with the ordinary services. As a result, there were 'showers of blessing', glorious revivals, wonderful displays of the Holy Spirit's power in convincing and saving men. We used often to see a whole congregation broken down and unable to leave the church; and numbers, night after night, coming to the house of God and finding salvation, and this no matter who was conducting the service.56

Republishing of this book might well stimulate renewed interest in and even reproduction of revival in Australia. The recent publication of Iain Murray's Australian Christian life from 178857 and Robert Evans' pioneering historical almanac Early evangelical revivals in Australia could also have such an impact if they are widely read.

A larger context: the 'after' phase

Another important consideration is that an emphasis on revival can become unbalanced, perhaps due to a rather simplistic wish to 'experience New Testament Christianity' or to see revival as a 'cure-all'. Such perspectives are understandable and no doubt are sincerely intended, but can lead to unrealistic expectations of the dramatic or claims of 'perfection' by some.58 Although multiple conversions are its centrepiece, revival is perhaps more properly understood as the 'inception' part of a much larger phenomenon, as suggested by the four 'phases' identified. For example, by 1744 Edwards had come to see it as a 'season' within a full cycle, as reflected in the Parable of the Sower:

. . . the work is put to a stop everywhere, and it is the day of the enemy's triumph, but I believe also a day of God's people's humiliation, which will be better to them in the end than their elevations and raptures. The time has been amongst us when 'the sower went forth to sow' (Matt 13:3), and we have seen the spring, wherein the seed sprang up in different sorts of ground, appearing then fair and flourishing; but this spring is past, and we now see the summer, wherein the sun is up with a burning heat, that tries the sorts of ground; and now appears the difference . . . Many high professors are fallen . . . [he then lists six serious types of failure]59

The 'Divine encounters', miraculous 'signs' and other enthralling experiences of the 'start' and 'during' phases of a revival are profoundly inspiring. These remain with participants as a great 'life-marking' memory and a stimulus towards continuing to seek them as ideals. Yet, as Edwards suggests above, the 'after' phase is really of equal importance and perhaps greater significance, as this is when what has been so gloriously begun must be maintained and developed, but under adverse pressures. This was observed with satisfaction by Edwards following the two revivals:

The people also seem to be much more sensible of the danger of resting in old experiences, or what they were subjects of at their supposed first conversion; and to be more fully convinced of the necessity of forgetting the things that are behind, and pressing forward and maintaining earnest labour, watchfulness, and prayerfulness, as long as they live.60

Such a perspective also sheds light on aspects of the nature of Acts and its relationship to the Epistles. As already noted, Acts does not contain a great deal of material from the 'after' phases at most locations. Instead it is more concerned with the initial geographical expansion of the 'movement' (that is, the first three phases), as the beginning of the ongoing worldwide mission envisaged in Acts 1:8 and 13:47. For this reason Acts and the history it narrates can easily be idealised as a picture of the 'New Testament church'.61 But when that inspiring initial era's aftermath is also taken into account, as represented by the Epistles, a more balanced and challenging understanding should result, in which the 'inception' stage is seen in its larger setting.62

Nevertheless it can reasonably be asked whether each new generation needs some form of profound 'Divine encounter', which can become foundational for their lifelong Christian aspirations and endeavours. Without this, will a less powerful version of the faith be all that is ever anticipated or experienced?63 Edwards seemed to think that such 'seasons' were essential to invigorate the ongoing church and for 'the advancement of Christ's Kingdom in the world':

From the fall of man to this day wherein we live the Work of Redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God. Though there be a more constant influence of God's Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances, yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work always have been by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy.64

Other problems in identifying revivals

Often there are pressures on leaders and others to try and claim 'success' by reproducing the characteristic features of revival, either by using various techniques or by inaccurate descriptive reporting.65 Thus it is important not to make hasty judgments about large 'movements' or dramatic behaviour as representing revival.

The above proposed description of revival also has limitations due to its reliance upon the visible and external as evidence, whereas the internal and spiritual are the vital factors. Yet discerning the latter involves subjective perceptions based on the former, and even Edwards admitted making some errors in his theological understandings and pastoral insights. The more substantial but often less prominent theological indicators should be sought, along the lines of Edwards' five 'distinguishing marks' of a true work of the Holy Spirit.66

History versus theology of revivals?

Should such theological analyses of revivals therefore predominate? J.I.Packer affirms on the one hand that there is 'very great value' in the historical study of past revivals: 'analysing, comparing, reconstructing and characterising these movements in the way that historians do, and seeking to produce out of this exercise generalised typologies of renewal for future reference'.67 He also acknowledges that past renewals do conform to 'patterns' and that these 'merit careful examination',68 and that 'the phenomena of renewal movements merit much more study by church historians, theologians and exponents of Christian spirituality than they have yet received'.69 But on the other hand he warns against:

. . . lapsing into what I call the antiquarian fallacy about renewal, the assumption that any future renewal will become recognizable by conforming to some pattern set in the past . . . we should limit God improperly, and actually quench the Spirit, if we assumed that future movements of renewal will correspond in outward form to some past movement, and that we can rely on this correspondence as a means of identifying them.70

This trenchant criticism would seem to negate much of the thrust of my thesis. However, Packer is apparently addressing the extremes of any analysis which is exclusively historical.71

Whilst Packer's insistence on the primacy of a theological understanding and characterisation of revival is acknowledged,72 this is with the caveat that such theological assessments must be constrained by the relevant historical material, biblical or otherwise. In fact Packer himself does this in his subsequent expositions of five theological 'constant factors recognizable in all biblical and post-biblical revivals and renewals of faith and life'.73 His profound theological analysis concerns 'Divine encounters' and 'the communal life of the believers'. But he also 'earths' most of his theological perceptions with historical examples, both biblical and since, thus giving them the concrete validation that history contributes, as envisaged by my thesis.

Concluding remarks

In conclusion, it is asserted that the findings of my research are potentially useful for setting some clear boundaries to the concept of 'revival', by specifying its characteristic historical features. These can then appropriately constrain all explorations of the subject, whether historical or theological, theoretical or practical, as well as clarify the terminology adopted.

Yet finally it is emphasised once again that the description of revival developed here is less than 'half a definition' because, as Packer adamantly maintains, the theological dimensions are paramount. More importantly, it needs to be remembered that such analyses can really only touch the surface of true historical revivals, as they were profound 'Divine encounters' both for individuals and whole communities. Ultimately mere words cannot possibly plumb such depths. Nevertheless, although even direct participants have been left struggling to express their observations and experiences, there was at times Divine power even in such imperfect explanations!

Rev Mr Lord . . . with the Rev Mr Owen of Groton, came up hither in May [1735] on purpose to see the work of God. Having heard various and contradictory accounts of it, they were careful when here to satisfy themselves; and to that end particularly conversed with many of our people; which they declared to be entirely to their satisfaction; and that the one half had not been told them, nor could be told them. Mr Lord told me that, when he got home, he informed his congregation of what he had seen, and that they were greatly affected with it; and that it proved the beginning of the same work amongst them, which prevailed till there was a general awakening, and many instances of persons who seemed to be remarkably converted.74


1. J.Edwin Orr, as quoted in R.E.Davies, I will pour out my Spirit: a history and theology of revivals and evangelical awakenings (Tunbridge Wells: Monarch, 1992), 24.

2. See:- John Blacket, "'Rainbow or serpent"?: observing the Arnhem Land Aboriginal revival, 1979 and now', in M. Hutchinson, E. Campion and S. Piggin (eds), Reviving Australia - Essays on the history and experience of revival and revivalism in Australian Christianity, Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1994, 291-301; idem., Fire in the outback (Sutherland, NSW: Albatross, 1997), 67-69, 85-87, 137-141. See also similar remarks also in:- Richard Owen Roberts, Revival! (Wheaton: Roberts, 1982), 15; Geoffrey Bingham, Dry bones dancing (Adelaide: New Creation, 1983), 1.

3. . Jeff Stacey, 'Revival in the Old Testament? The theology of Jonathan Edwards', in Hutchinson, Campion and Piggin eds. Reviving Australia, 36-38.

4. . James Burns, Revivals: their laws and leaders (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960), 77-332; J.Edwin Orr, Evangelical awakenings in the South Seas (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1976), viii-x; Iain H.Murray, Pentecost - today? (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), 4.

5. . Robert Evans, Early evangelical revivals in Australia, (Hazelbrook: self-published, 2000), passim; Burns, Revivals, 21; Orr, Evangelical awakenings, vii.

6. . Davies, I will pour out my Spirit, 9; Evans, Early evangelical revivals in Australia, viii.

7. . Richard Owen Roberts, ed., Revival literature - an annotated bibliography with biographical and historical notices (Wheaton: Roberts, 1987), ix.

8. . Burns, Revivals, 22.

9. . Lewis Drummond, Eight keys to biblical revival (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1994), 14.

10. Charles G.Finney, Revival lectures (Grand Rapids: Revell, undated), 1-8; Stephen F.Olford, Heart-cry for revival (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1963), 15-17; Edith L.Blumhofer and Randall Balmer, 'Introduction', in Modern Christian revivals, ed. Edith L.Blumhofer and Randall Balmer (Chicago: University of Illinois, 1993), xi; Roberts, Revival!, 15-18; Murray, Pentecost, 1-7.

11. For example:- Jonathan Edwards, 'A history of the work of redemption', in A history of the work of redemption. The works of Jonathan Edwards, 9, ed. J.F.Wilson, (Princeton: Yale, 1989), 143; Orr, Evangelical awakenings, vii; Bingham, Dry bones dancing, 5; Earle E.Cairns, An endless line of splendor: revivals and their leaders from the Great Awakening to the present (Illinois: Wheaton, 1986), 22; Davies, I will pour out my Spirit, 23-24 (end-notes 1, 2, 5); Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of spiritual life (Downer's Grove: IVP, 1979), 21-22; Roberts, Revival! 16-17.

12. Davies, I will pour out my Spirit, 10; Roberts ed. Revival literature, ix-x.

13. Stacey, 'Revival in the Old Testament?' in Hutchinson, Campion and Piggin eds. Reviving Australia, 36. There appear to be only a few books which specifically address the biblical theology of revival in a sustained way. Some examples are:- Bingham, Dry bones dancing; ------, The day of the Spirit (Adelaide: New Creation, 1985), 218-247; Edwards, 'A history', in Wilson ed. A history of the work of redemption; Lovelace, Dynamics, 61-80; Murray, Pentecost, 1-32; Piggin, Firestorm, 25-44.

14. The work of J. Edwin Orr has been outstanding in this regard.

15. Roberts ed. Revival literature, x. Roberts was of the view in 1987 that: 'no-one has ever written a complete history of religious awakenings . . . furthermore, many major religious revivals have never been adequately chronicled . . . '

16. See Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia: Spirit, Word and world (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996), 40-41, 62, where two lists of local revivals are given, covering all states of Australia, totalling 29 for the period 1834-69 and 37 for 1871-1905, but no further details are given.

17. Evans, Early evangelical revivals in Australia.

18. What is meant by 'historical features' has to do with the 'external' aspects of what happened, which were observed and then described, as against explanations and interpretations of their 'internal' causes or meaning.

19. Stacey, 'Revival in the Old Testament?' in Hutchinson, Campion and Piggin eds. Reviving Australia, 34-35, 39.

20. Piggin, Firestorm, 11.

21. Tony Lambert, The resurrection of the Chinese church (Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), 159-60.

22. Piggin, Firestorm, 11-12.

23. Stacey, 'Revival in the Old Testament?' in Hutchinson, Campion and Piggin eds. Reviving Australia, 38.

24. In particular, etymological studies of the Hebrew and Greek words translated in the 1611 AV as 'revive' and its cognates would be anachronistic.

25. The main primary historical documents are:- (for the 1734-35 revival) Jonathan Edwards, 'A faithful narrative of surprising conversions', in The Great Awakening. The works of Jonathan Edwards, 4, ed. C.C.Goen (New Haven: Yale, 1972), 144-211; (for the 1740-42 revival) Edwards, 'Letter to Rev Thomas Prince of Boston', in Goen ed. The Great Awakening, 544-57.

26. This expression is intended to be a historical description, in contrast to the 'outpouring of the Holy Spirit' which is a theological interpretation.

27. Edwards, 'A faithful narrative', in Goen ed. The Great Awakening, 149-151.

28. Murray, Pentecost, 13-16.

29. Piggin, Firestorm, 34.

30. ibid. 29-37.

31. Davies, I will pour out my Spirit, 48-50.

32. For example, Luke 5:8,11,27-32, 9:1-6,10a, 10:17-24, 19:8-10, 23:39-43 and parallels. The practice has been adopted of capitalising the initial 'H' in personal pronouns referring to the Persons of the Trinity. This simply helps to distinguish who the pronouns refer to in their contexts.

33. For example, Luke 2:50, 9:45, 18:34, 22:49-51,56-62, 24:11, 24:16-24,37-43, and parallels.

34. D.A.Carson, D.J.Moo and L.Morris, An introduction to the New Testament (Leicester: Apollos, 1992), 181.

35. Acceptance of Luke's authorship was validated on the basis of a review of scholarly critical literature.

36. Martin Hengel, Acts and the history of earliest Christianity (London: SCM Press, 1979), 35; Richard M.Longenecker, Acts. The Expositor's Bible, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 84.

37. Colin J.Hemer, The book of Acts in the setting of Hellenistic history (Tubingen: Mohr, 1989), 412. Speaking of the various approaches used in his research, Hemer concluded: 'by and large . . . these perspectives all converged to support the general reliability of the narrative, through the details so intricately yet so often unintentionally woven into that narrative'. (italics added for emphasis).

38. Except where they contain references to historical features, the speeches were generally treated only in their 'functional role'. For example, they were evaluated as being occurrences of preaching or teaching, expounding the Old Testament Scriptures, giving commands or warnings and so forth, rather than in relation to their specific contents.

39. This tabulation ran to 58 pages and took about 18 months to design, compile and refine.

40. It is apparent that this 'before' phase also related directly to much of the earlier ministry of Jesus and especially events during the Passion and Resurrection periods. However, that was the time of formation of the gospel itself and thus the antecedent of all subsequent development and expansion of the church. Thus it was excluded, along with Acts 1:1-9 which briefly summarises some of the Gospels' contents.

41. James D.G.Dunn, The Acts of the Apostles (Peterborough: Epworth, 1996), xxi.

42. Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles - a socio-rhetorical commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 156-7.

43. For example, notably absent is any mention of prayer. Although prayer can be interpreted on theological grounds as having been highly significant at various points in Acts, recorded actual occurrences of it are relatively infrequent. The degree of Edwards' lack of mention of prayer is quite extraordinary and was investigated extensively in my thesis.

44. It could be argued that the previous absence of a thorough examination of the historical features of the Acts revival(s) has meant that historical analyses of later examples lacked an adequate biblical paradigm.

45. Iain H.Murray, Revival and revivalism, the making and marring of American evangelicalism, 1750-1858 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 376.

46. ibid.

47. Murray, Pentecost, 2-3.

48. See for example, Finney, Revival lectures, 7, where he defines revival as follows: 'It presupposes that the church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners'. But this is irrelevant when major expansions occur where no churches previously existed and no restorations of lost Christian devotion are involved, such as in Acts (see Murray, Pentecost, 2-3).

49. For example, see:- Orr, Evangelical awakenings, vii; James I.Packer, God in our midst: seeking and receiving ongoing revival (Milton Keynes: Word, 1987), 13-16ff; Lovelace, Dynamics, 48-80; Robert Evans and Roy McKenzie, Evangelical revivals in New Zealand (Paihia NZ: Colcom, 1999), iv-vi; Piggin, Firestorm, 11-12.

50. Patrick Dixon, The signs of revival (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1994), 10.

51. Murray, Pentecost, 2.

52. For example, Psalm 19:7, 80:17-19, 85:1-7, Isaiah 57:14-16 and Hosea 6:1-3 (NIV).

53. For example, this is the approach underlying Murray's historical and theological study in Revival and revivalism.

54. For example, the recent revival amongst the indigenous population of Fiji has been partly attributed to viewing of the 'Transformation' videos. But another major factor (since 1997) was 'Evangelism Explosion clinics' (EE), initially conducted in several places by teams from the Figtree (NSW) Anglican church led by Rod Story, and since established permanently by him under Fijian leadership.

55. John Watsford, Glorious gospel triumphs, as seen in my life and work in Fiji and Australasia (London: Charles H.Kelley, 1900).

56. ibid, 21.

57. Iain H.Murray, Australian Christian life from 1788 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988).

58. Frank Houghton, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur (London: SPCK, 1953), 257.

59. Edwards, 'Letter to William McCulloch [1744]', in Goen ed. The Great Awakening, 559.

60. Edwards, 'Letter to Thomas Prince', in Goen, The Great Awakening, 557.

61. John R.W.Stott, The Message of Acts (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 10.

62. For example, it is perhaps significant that Paul later seemed unable to perform miracles of healing as he had in the previous phases (see Galatians 4:13-14, Philippians 2:26-30, 1Timothy 5:23, 2Timothy 4:20). Yet this was not apparently due to any decline in faith or wholehearted commitment on his part.

63. Perhaps Judges 2:7,10,12 illustrates such a 'principle'? But see also Luke 11:29-30.

A history of the work of redemption, 143.

65. J.I.Packer, 'Foreword' to D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival - can we make it happen? (London: Marshall Pickering, 1992), 5-6.

66. Edwards, 'The distinguishing marks', in Goen ed. The Great Awakening, 248-55; See also Piggin, Firestorm, 49-57.

67. Packer, God in our midst, 10.

68. ibid.

69. ibid. 24-25.

70. ibid. 10.

71. ibid. 8-11.

72. ibid. 11-24.

73. ibid. 24-35.

The Great Awakening, 155.


© Southern Cross College, 2004.