LTRP Note: The following letter to the editor from a Lighthouse Trails reader raises valid concerns about circumstances surrounding the Asbury “revival.” While Asbury University personnel and numerous secular and religious media outlets say that the “revival” is “pure, unplanned, organic,” and unexpected, it turns out an NAR/IHOP*-connected group had been planning a revival event at Asbury days before it even began. Lighthouse Trails does not question the sincerity of those at the Asbury gathering who may be truly committing or re-committing their lives to the Lord in humility, repentance, and reverence but is concerned about harmful exploits that can potentially hurt many while calling something a move of God that in reality may be a pre-planned event which could become part of a false revival.
Important Note: It must be noted here as well that Asbury University and other colleges that have begun similar “revival” meetings (because of the Asbury event) are on the Lighthouse Trails contemplative prayer/Spiritual Formation College list, which presents serious concerns in and of itself. If true God-led revival is indeed taking place, the mystical spirituality that these schools have been embracing and transforming students with cannot be ignored any longer. From our point of view, it will not be true revival unless it is dealt with because such a New Age spirituality leads people away from the Gospel and God’s Word and brings them into the audience of “seducing spirits” (which can lead to beliefs such as atheism, humanism, and wokeism).
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I have been keeping an eye on the Asbury “revival” (which began on February 8th) since an article appeared in the American Thinker last Tuesday (2/14).1 The title referred to a “hopeful phenomenon,” then focused on a college paper reporter’s account of the Asbury “revival” being unexpected, even though the school was “no stranger to revivals“ according to the article. Please pardon the length of what follows, but it seems a time-sensitive issue with many questions and flags being raised.
The same article then quoted from articles from CBN and local NBC affiliate WLEX, the latter with a headline that “‘God is transforming lives: Revival continues at Asbury University.”2 One initial thought was since when does a modern NBC affiliate in a large city/college town like Lexington run headlines like that?
There seemed to be a sense that this might be used just like the “Toronto blessing” as something that started small but set off a movement etc. Even the University president commented that books are likely to be written about this while discussing university plans related to commissioning and sending out those there to share their experiences, all of which warranted a closer look.3
Further checking showed that the Collegiate Day of Prayer organization (a group involved with NAR/ IHOP names such as Lou Engle of The Call and which evidently wrote over and over about connecting that collegiate day of prayer event with “revival“ and “spiritual awakening“4) just happened to release a video on February 1st (days before the Asbury “revival” began) announcing that this year’s revival event would take place at Asbury University with speakers such as [NAR-influenced] Francis Chan and [ecumenical “Global Peace” leader] Rick Warren in the very building where “revival” was reported to be occurring!5 One Assemblies of God-related publication from January 25th of this year concerning that event actually had the headline “A Great Collegiate Awakening—It’s Coming.”6
The Collegiate Day of Prayer promotional video (said to have “premiered February 1”) had the following description:
“Let’s ADOPT and saturate EVERY CAMPUS in America in prayer (go to https://web.archive.org/web/20230215010849/http://collegiatedayofprayer.org to adopt a campus) and join us LIVE from Asbury University on Feb 23rd at 8-10pm ET with special guests Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Allen Hood and worship leaders from International House of Prayer (IHOP), Circuit Riders + Black Voices Movement, and Met By Love Worship. Let’s believe God for REVIVAL amongst believers on college campuses and SPIRITUAL AWAKENING amongst the lost. Father, revive the saved and save the lost!!”7
If this isn’t remarkable enough, the video itself actually starts with someone saying: “Fifty years ago, something extraordinary happened on one college campus,” then shows footage watermarked with WLEX and what appears to be the same facility—Hughes Auditorium. After words from Francis Chan, a narrator concludes: “Join us on February 23, live from Asbury University. Lord, do it again.”
None of the initial reporting or principals I recall seeing were mentioning that convergence of events even in passing, often seeming to promote a narrative that appeared to contend that “no one had any idea, no one started this, God’s moving,” and so forth. To wit, an Asbury journalism professor contended in Sunday’s college paper that “Whatever this is or has become, let’s remember that it began with a small group of students who lingered after chapel. This is pure, unplanned, organic. No big-name speakers or musicians, no pyrotechnics, no outreach. This is not a performance.”8
Despite the massive national and international media coverage, few have seemed to have put together that a historically revival-focused school that has claimed to have had others before and a large one 53 years ago—in the very place that this one is reported to have started—just happens to be hosting in that same space a collegiate day of prayer on February 23rd. Even if someone were to allow for the possibility that man’s fingerprints weren’t on this seemingly remarkable alignment of events, how would that explain the lack of sufficiently connecting those dots in so much media coverage or in the comments from the principals involved, including school officials?
Continuing the remarkable sequence of events, the “revival“ term was used in a headline by an Asbury University college newspaper reporter, with a story that was published the same day as the initial chapel service: Wednesday, February 8th.9 The reporter was listed as having interned last summer for the same aforementioned Lexington NBC TV affiliate. Interestingly, WLEX apparently made no reference to that in what appeared to be their initial story and broadcast covering this.
In none of her coverage that I saw, nor in the initial local NBC news and CBN reports that I saw, is it brought up even as a matter of course that the Collegiate Day of Prayer event was to be held in the same auditorium on February 23rd, complete with high profile figures involved. Wouldn’t that dot likely have been connected by somebody, even just as an information point? Isn’t it legitimate in the absence of clarity and the persistence of some casting this as “pure, unplanned, organic” to raise questions about the nature of the way the story has unfolded? Wouldn’t that especially be the case if there are some innocent or unaware, such as the young collegians and even some reporters, who were sold the ideas of “revival” / “awakening” as something to be pursued, and then chased after it—perhaps at the subtle prodding of figures who might’ve benefited from the timing?
As a capper, this past weekend, the school president just happened to essentially announce the end of the use of the auditorium for the “revival,“ notably with a timeframe that had as the last focused event there none other than the Collegiate Day of Prayer event, then closing Hughes Auditorium at midnight. As the 1970 event left the auditorium open, one might wonder how this works as far as an arguably building-focused “revival“ as far as man proactively scheduling the end there—again, immediately after holding the featured Collegiate Day of Prayer event that had been scheduled well in advance. Also, what he wrote concerning sending out people from this to share about their experiences just happened to tie back into much of what was talked about by the event planners in many of their publications.10
Given the college president’s speculation concerning books being written about this event, isn’t it legitimate to observe that this event just might happen to raise the profiles and prospects of Asbury University, the Collegiate Prayer Day event and affiliated planners, Rick Warren, Francis Chan, college reporters, those who first reported on this such as WLEX and CBN, and others involved? That last part in it of itself appears to call for a closer look.
Moreover, it seems time to take a look at “revival” as whole, especially as going by what has gone on in some reports and social media, people can arguably call just about anything they want “revival,” while potentially pillorying and dismissing anyone who dares to apply any level of examination to it. Yet, many might sit by placidly when well-compensated bureaucrats in purportedly Christian bureaucracies and constructs not only appear to have the opportunity to use the event as a springboard for their own plans, but to wrap things up in a time convenient to their logistical priorities. This is notwithstanding the claim that God was “moving” and dictating where and when that was occurring—which in this case just happened to be where a planned event for which many have wanted to get national attention was scheduled to occur mere days later.
Sincerely, Bob, a long-time Lighthouse Trails reader
- https://www.asbury.edu/academics/resources/library/archives/history/revivals; https://web.archive.org/web/20230218225843/https://www.asbury.edu/outpouring.
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission; not a photo from Asbury)
*NAR stands for New Apostolic Reformation and IHOP stands for International House of Prayer. Both are an extreme and heretical arm of the charismatic movement. Type those acronyms into the Lighthouse Trails Research blog search engine (above) to find more information about them.