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Inexpressibly Dreadful

  03/18/16 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

They are thirsty for God, and they will not be satisfied until they have drunk deep at the fountain of living water. 

This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man’s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the church in our day. 

---A. W. Tozer in June 1948



I think it is fair to say that that cloud has dissipated. I now believe that what Tozer detected was not a harbinger but a ghost, a memory of something already gone.

When we reflect on our subsequent carnival of heterodoxy, our parade of excessively ungifted leaders, our restless pursuit of celebrity, and our unseemly pretense at influence, it is pretty clear that those who might have been thirsty for God or those with a radiant wonder were left bleeding in a ditch.

Meanwhile the Evangelical machine grinds on and on, like a presidential election, able to produce only what is useless and shameful.

What we had was A. W. Tozer, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Alan Redpath, Stephen Olford, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones; what we got was Rick Warren, Joel Osteen T. D. Jakes, Tim Keller, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, Kevin DeYoung, Chuck Swindoll, Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Jimmy Swaggart, Tammy Faye Bakker, Mark Galli, Jan Crouch….

How do you account for this? I’m not asking who you might condemn or who you might absolve or who you might endorse. I’m not asking you to wend your way through church history to demonstrate how the fullness of biblical wisdom survived to enjoy your assent. Is God still working in our midst, or has the God of history moved on to some more interesting endeavors?


Let’s suppose you were asked to teach a short series of adult Sunday School classes presenting a thumbnail view of historic Christianity and with an eye to descrying God’s continuing work in his Church. How might you go about that?

Clearly it would be a simple thing to present a digest of pivotal events, the life and death of notable firebrands, reformers, and saints, details of religious persecutions, doctrinal disputes…. That would be one way to go.

But what if you wanted to give your students some meaningful sense of the chain of events that brought us from St. Peter in Jerusalem at Pentecost to, say, Bethany Jenkins in Indianapolis at “Resurrection Life”.

Could you do that?


Comment from: the_divine_passive [Member]  

I’ve thought of it as similar to the decay of monasticism. The first monastics had their reasons and moved out into the desert. Another generation deeply admired the first monastics and followed them into the desert to discover the reasons. Then another generation arose who wished to be admired, so they moved out into the desert as well, not aware that there might have been reasons.

Not much has really changed in our day, except that this generation takes it a step further: demanding admiration without moving out into the desert.

03/19/16 @ 13:24
Comment from: Dissidens [Member]  

Well, except that this generation stays in air-conditioned, poolside rooms and ties a knot in its necklace that speaks of its deep commitment to “Aridity”.

03/19/16 @ 14:22

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