When I work with seminary students preparing them for their doctoral Project Proposal Seminar, I encourage them, when preparing their literature review chapter, to observe the themes and to critically read to see if the authors are helping to answer the research question. In the last couple of weeks we have heard about the revival taking place at the Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. Over and over again, the recurring question that I heard and read about this revival is, “Is this a revival?”
I know there are a number of perspectives doing its rounds on social media about this phenomena. Some are outright negative in their critique, others are adopting a wait and see stance and then there are those who are stating that this is legitimate. I am sure there will be many seminary students who will make this a topic for their doctor of ministry dissertation.
Whenever one is engaged in data collection and reviewing literature to check if they help answer the research question, eye-witness accounts can be reliable sources. In my curiosity I had questions and thankfully, someone who I know personally and have worked with was that eyewitness. Dr. Craig Keener, a Biblical Studies professor at Asbury Theological Seminary reported on the revival and I feel comfortable with his perspective on this phenomena taking place at Asbury University. I say this with a high level of confidence for two reasons, one is that he is physically present there and is experiencing it himself, and secondly, for his deep knowledge of scripture.
In Keener’s recent youtube reporting, he references his personal experience of this, provides a historical overview of revivals especially among the Wesleyans, quotes biblical accounts of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and he shares his perspective of the legitimacy of this revival. I began to listen to his reporting very carefully and the recurring themes that emerged were: “The Holiness of God”, “It is all about God”, “Confession of sin”, “A hunger for God”.
One of the striking aspects of this was that the students who were the recipients of this outpouring of God’s spirit do not want their names mentioned and do not want any publicity. Keener also mentioned that the university and seminary community have been praying to God for a revival. Keener wrote”…the spirit of worship felt deeper, and I felt more aware of God’s awesome holiness.”
If the recurring themes center around the ones I heard and read about this revival, then I believe God is pouring out his spirit on his people. I am praising God! My prayer is that the long term biblical impact on this university, seminary and the surrounding community would be felt. As a global servant, I too, need a fresh visitation from the Lord and pray the words of the Psalter, David: “ Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24