Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Contemporary Observer's Scriptural Iniquiry into the 1859 "Revival"

In my continuing analysis of the bizarre, unbiblical, and antichristian phenomena of neo-pentecostalism, fake charismaticism, unscriptural revivalism, carnal enthusiasm, and false spirituality, I've been reading a book by the Rev. William Hamilton, written around 1859 about that much-lauded "Irish Revival" which started in Kells.

While I am sure that I could find a few disagreements about certain particulars mentioned by the author (as in fact, Rev. Stewart of the CPRC also says in his foreward to the book), his work in this book is of great value in correctly diagnosing the current fanatical insanity we can observe not only in explicitly Pentecostal and Charismatic circles - but increasingly and almost ubiquitously in traditionally faithful denominations. Many who claim to be scriptural and even Reformed devote an inordinate amount of time and effort into promoting and encouraging revivalism, and in particular for this island, the Revival of 1859 in Kells.

Rev. Hamilton's book, "An Iniquiry into the Scriptural Character of the Revival of 1859" makes it very plain that such an attitude is wholly misplaced, as he lays bare the genuine characteristics of the 1859 Revival - and by extension, all revivalism - and reveals their sinister nature in the light of the very foundational truths of Scripture regarding salvation, the church, preaching, pastors and teachers, and much more.

I leave you with this quote, and counsel you fervently to read the book, and to afford all such phenomena a similar attitude of always first bringing it to the test of Scripture in which the Holy Spirit reveals His will:

"... it is the supernatural that is relied upon in their favour. We must, therefore, pause a little to shew the unscriptural nature of their position and conduct as manifested in this Revival. Look at it.

"Men and women, boys and girls of every description, many of them, according to their own statements, of the worst character, and as ignorant as they were immoral, and yet they become, in a few days or weeks - in some instances in a few hours - the teachers and leaders in the largest religious assemblies, and little, if any good, can be attained without them; and woe to the minister who will not approve of them, encourage them, nor employ them. It is no imaginary evil, no shadowy phantom, that he is called upon to encounter.

"The first thought that arises in the mind is, will the next generation believe that such a state of things existed in the year 1859? Very likely it will be recorded as a gracious Revival; but we leave the future to the future; we are in the midst of these sad realities, and it is our duty to deal with them." (pp. 142-143)
I hope that you will take the opportunity to purchase the book and study it closely. Again find the book here:

- Sam W.

My Impression of the "Greenchurch" Movement.

My brother-in-law recently asked me for my thoughts on a subject which I see as rather crucial and neglected here in Limerick - a city full of false ecumenism, and independentism. For that reason, I decided to share this on my blog too:

First the invitation and link:

I am going to link in something here and want to hear your thoughts on this:

Leaving “church” to find Jesus « greenchurch
One of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my life was the decision to leave the institutional church. You get taught, as I was that Jesus is only interested in working through “local churches”. ...
And my response:

The guy in that link you sent me, whether he knows it or not is a schismatic. His position on ecclesiology is fundamentally against true biblical unity. Pastors, which are the primary gifts (charismata) of the ascended Spirit-pouring Christ for this era, are crucial for unity and maturity among believers (Eph. 4 - that's what a genuinely charismatic Christian should be cherishing!). Not only that, but the called and ordained preachers of the Word are the life-giving voice of Jesus Christ to His sheep (Eph. 2:14-17; Rom. 10:14-17; John 10:1-16; 6:63; II Tim. 1:6 (gift/charisma again!); II Tim. 2:2).

And the purpose and aim of a denomination is actually biblical unity in doctrine and practice among local churches, not division, and is scriptural (e.g the synod/council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the working together of the Gentile churches to provide for the Jerusalem churches in famine and persecution, e.g. II Cor. 8 and 9). And this is even though there must be division on account of heresies, and so the feast of unleavened bread must be kept in amongst churches (I Cor. 11:18-19, Gal. 1:6-10; I Cor. 5:6-7). There is corporate responsibility because the churches are all part of the one body of Christ, and so denominational separation must occur, when a church is listening to the voice of Satan rather than the voice of Christ. Three marks demonstrate this - the erosion of true biblical preaching (so that no longer is the Gospel preached but all kinds of other useless nonsense) - which means that Christ is no longer speaking in that church, at least in the official capacity.

Instead of receiving spirit and life through the preaching then, the true saints receive poisoned food and starve (Amos 8:11-13). The Christian life is one of relationship with God, and if we are not hearing Christ voice in the preaching especially (Bible-reading, and private study notwithstanding) then the primary part of our communication with God is cut off - and communication is the most essential thing in a relationship. And so this is why, when the preaching in a church is compromised, it quickly becomes utterly apostate (Gal. 5:7-9; I Cor. 15:33; Heb. 12:15), and the saints there can often feel like staying at home or retreating (or keeping quiet) - but what they should do is bear witness as much as they can to that apostasy and reject it if their warning is not heeded, for we are all prophets, priests, and kings (I Pet. 2:9 etc). And so they ought to seek the establishment of a new lump, unleavened by that Pharisaic false religion (Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:15-21; Luke 12:1-12).

The preaching being compromised, then the other two marks of a false church closely follow, the sacraments are defiled and distorted, and the church discipline is turned on its head. All manner of vile corruptions are introduced, such as the teaching that baptism causes regeneration, or denying baptism to the children of believers (who as much as the adults are to be treated as church-members, regardless of whether they are elect or reprobate, but if reprobate, they will only manifest this later - and should undergo church discipline just like any church-member, culminating is excommunication in the face of prolonged impenitence). The truth of baptism becomes utterly obscured by false teaching, because the sacraments are only edifying if received in faith properly, in other words, only if correctly understood. Baptism is a sign and seal of the righteousness the elect have not of ourselves, but of the faith of Christ, as circumcision was to Abraham and his descendents in their generations (Gen. 17:7; Rom. 4:11).

Commonly the Lord's Supper is profaned by opening it to any and all carnal unbelieving wicked, manifest hypocrites, and heretics, instead of the elders guarding the table by the keys of the kingdom - preaching and church discipline (Matt. 16:19; John 20:21-23; Matt. 18:15-18; II Cor. 2:10; I Pet. 5:1-3; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:17-38). And this brings further judgment upon the entire congregation (I Cor. 11:20-34). This overseeing involves preaching the significance and meaning of the Lord's Supper, admonishing the saints to examine themselves before receiving Christ spiritually (not bodily/physically) by faith at the Supper, and refusing access to those under church discipline, or those who they do not know whether they adhere to biblical doctrine and walk a godly life.

And certainly the Lord's Supper is receiving Christ spiritually only by faith (not just a fancy symbol as some fanatical Anabaptists teach), as John 6:31-69 and I Cor. 10:1-22 teach. It should be apparent that the third mark of church discipline is necessarily reversed. Instead of disciplining the impenitent and heretics, those faithful and bold saints who witness against the apostasy are disciplined. The only sins then become schism and lack of political correctness. The false church then aids the evil beastly world power in persecuting the true saints. In the face of such apostasy, the believer has the right, and the responsibility to reform the church by establishing a new separate church institute whilst seeking fellowship with other churches that have remained faithful. If a church is not always reforming (according to the word of God) - it is deforming (conforming to the wicked world under the authority of Satan). So the general picture is that if all things are carried out according to the Word of God, then it is a true church that fellowship within a denomination is to be sought with, and from which no believer has the right to separate himself from. Otherwise, it is part of the false church in the service of Babylon, from which all true believers must flee, lest they be partakers in her sins.

But this guy has chosen to reject not only pastors (necessary for the Great Commission of teaching all things that Christ has commanded us - the whole counsel of God), local church institutes (including the government of elders necessary for the proper administration of discipline and the sacraments, apart from which there is ordinarily no salvation – and by this I especially include the continuous sanctification which must take place in every believer’s life primarily by means of attending the preaching of the Word), and denominations (necessary for churches properly working together, serving one another's needs, and for true biblical unity in doctrine and practice). So my testimony is that he is schismatic. This is plainly, grieving the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of love, and of truth, and therefore also, of unity. Saints are to be greatly and heavily and deeply concerned, with endeavouring to KEEP (not make) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4), because there is ONE body (not two or more as the Judaizing dispensationalists teach), and one Spirit, one hope of our calling (not two, and that means the biblical amillenial hope, not the Jewish dreams of the premills or carnal fancies of the postmills), one Lord, etc. Read Ephesians 4!

One faith (not train-tracks, not "truth in tension", not compromising with prideful and damning Arminianism), one baptism (not post-confessional anabaptism or regenerational baptism - the true spiritual baptism into Christ), one God and Father of all. And how is this incredible measure of unity maintained? By the PRIMARY spiritual gift of the ascended Christ - mentioned at the start, pastors and teachers (v.7ff). Have a listen to this sermon if you have time: and there is a great series about pastors on the cprf audio section too. Just how important is unity in the church and between churches? To oppose unity in the church and amongst churches for unscriptural reasons is dividing Christ asunder, and calling Him a polygamist (Eph. 5:22-33), or worse. It is to deny monotheism, and teach polytheism instead. It is to attempt to split apart the one body of Christ and cut others or oneself off from Him – and only those joined to Christ’s body under Him as the Head can be in fellowship with Him and saved from hell – to be cut off is to be eternally accursed – this is the terrifying reality of excommunication when carried out biblically and if the subject does not repent (John 20:23 etc). In all this the inward reality ought to be manifest outwardly too.

It is not without great weight then, that the Scripture says: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment. … Is Christ divided?” (I Cor. 1:10ff) All divisions result from the carnal seed, those wretched and damned false sheep within the church, and our own still-remaining sinful flesh which we must daily crucify. But this is not to say that all such divisions are wrong or unnecessary! Christ’s earnest desire is for such divisions to be manifest (Luke 12:49-53), between the seed of the serpent and His seed, but not between His own seed, who are joined by His Spirit! Here we have the entire reality of what the previous division between Jew and Gentile was supposed to represent – and why, the reality having come in Christ, that all such divisions made by the dispensationalists are wicked Judaizing and any division based on race or social status is wrong. To manifest the true unity of the Spirit, we must humble ourselves and tear down the errors of doctrine and immorality in practice which our lustful flesh is so prone to – and the central means as always is the preaching of the Word by lawfully called, qualified, ordained and sent ministers, which this man has so carelessly thought to reject.

I hope all this helps. On the subject of denominations I recommend this short booklet:
More info and links on my blog here:
And on the CPRC Resources page about the church here:

- Sam W.