(I’m flying out to a conference later this week, so this week’s posts will run Monday-Wednesday rather than Tuesday-Thursday.)
Have you been hearing about this “Asbury Revival” thing lately, and wondering what it is? Is it a “real” revival? Is it biblical? Are people getting saved? These are just a few of the questions Christians have been asking as video, eyewitness accounts, and, undoubtedly, a good deal of speculation have made their way out of Kentucky to other parts of the country.
I would encourage you to examine the resources below and compare everything to rightly handled, in context Scripture. This is a way of testing the spirits as Scripture commands us, rather than simply believing every spirit that comes along.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.1 John 4:1
To help you practice your discernment, here (and throughout this article) are some questions to keep in mind as you read about and watch the “Asbury revival”:
🔥Where does the Bible say that, in context, and rightly handled? Does the Bible really say that?
🔥Is what I’m reading objective, rightly handled, in context Scripture, or someone’s subjective personal experiences, opinions, feelings, or preferences? Which am I hearing more of?
🔥Could what I’m reading about have been replicated by a non-Christian person, event, or experience?
🔥Who, or what, is my attention being drawn to – Jesus and His written Word, or people, opinions, feelings, and experiences?
🔥A good, biblical approach to evaluating events like this, initially, is to “wait and see” what will transpire. We don’t want to make snap, uninformed judgments, but when there’s the possibility that spiritual damage could be done, at what point have we waited long enough and seen enough evidence that it is time to stop waiting and start warning?
What’s this all about?
“The 2023 Asbury Revival is an ongoing Christian revival at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. The event was prompted after students spontaneously stayed in Hughes Auditorium following a regularly scheduled chapel service on 8 Feb. 2023. News of the phenomena was quickly spread on social media and in Christian online publications. The revival has been compared to similar revivals at Asbury, notably one that occurred in 1970, which had far-reaching consequences in Methodism, US culture, and in the growth of the Jesus movement. The revival is noted for its use of social media, as the participants are mainly members of Generation Z.” 2023 Asbury Revival, Wikipedia
(Normally, I would not use Wikipedia as a resource, but after sifting through a dozen or so news stories for one that wasn’t slanted, didn’t drown the reader in tons of superfluous information, and simply presented the basic facts, unbelievably, Wikipedia is what I was left with. There are a few more details and a decent timeline of events at the link above.)
Entering week three, Asbury President Kevin Brown issued an announcement that the event will end on Wednesday, February 22. Asbury revival in Kentucky will end after two weeks of non-stop services, worship, Lexington Herald Leader
Theological Foundation, Background, and Context
🔥Are all of Asbury’s doctrines and practices biblical? If not, which ones, and why?
🔥Consider the following passage as you learn about Asbury’s doctrine and practices. Which parts of what you will read below are “tree,” and which parts are “fruit”? According to Scripture, does Asbury seem to be a healthy tree that will bear good fruit, or a diseased tree that will bear bad fruit?
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:16-23
Asbury University has “its roots in the American Methodist and holiness tradition.” Here is their theological foundation as explained by Asbury University: Wesleyan-Holiness Theology
Briefer and more contemporary: Who are the Wesleyans, and what are the beliefs of the Wesleyan Church?
Though Asbury University retains many biblical standards on paper, genearally speaking, Wesleyans are Arminian, egalitarian rather than complementarian, pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, and social justice oriented. They tend toward theological “progressivism” – the liberal end of the theological spectrum rather than the conservative end.
And, indeed, there are openly homosexual students at Asbury, and they have been helping lead this event. From an Asbury student:
And here is “Pastor” Laurel Bunker, who is scheduled to preach at chapel on March 20, 2023 – just one of the numerous women they regularly have preach.
Asbury University also has a history of recurring spiritual events which they have dubbed “revivals” and attribute to the Holy Spirit. From the Asbury University website:
Notice anything about the dates of these events? They all occurred near the time of the Collegiate Day of Prayer, which is always the last Thursday of February. This has raised questions as to whether or not these events may have been at least somewhat contrived or encouraged. Coincidentally or not, Asbury University is hosting the 200th anniversary simulcast for the Collegiate Day of Prayer on Thursday, February 23 – the day after the current “revival” is scheduled to end.
Content of the Meetings
🔥What does the Bible say about the way we are to worship? How does the content of the Asbury meetings measure up against Scripture’s commands and instructions for biblical worship?
What’s being called the “Asbury revival” started after a regular weekly chapel service. This is the message that was preached during that chapel service that apparently got things going.
Many people have said that the gospel was preached during this sermon. Many others have said the gospel appeared nowhere in this sermon.
This is the gospel:
You are a sinner. You were born in sin and rebellion against the holy God of the universe, and you’ve also willfully chosen to break His law. You’ve lied. You’ve wanted and taken things that didn’t belong to you, which is coveting and stealing. You’ve lusted after someone, which Jesus said is committing adultery in your heart. You’ve been sinfully angry, which Jesus says is committing murder in your heart. You’ve dishonored your parents. And that’s only 6 of the 10 Commandments.
James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” So you’re guilty of breaking all of God’s law.
When you break the law, justice must be meted out. And the just punishment for rebellion against God is an eternity in Hell, which all of us richly deserve. And you can take that eternal death sentence for your sin, and serve it yourself if you want to, but God, who is rich in mercy, has provided another way out. A better way out. He sent His son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect sinless life so He could take your death penalty for you. And that’s just what He did on the cross. He died in your place. He took the punishment for your sin. And then he rose bodily from the grave on the third day afterward.
If you want to be right with God, have your sins forgiven, and stand clean before Him now and when you die, confess your sin and rebellion against Him. Sorrowfully turn your heart and life away from sin and toward Him, believing that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin, and you ask Him to save you. And He will.
(For a more extensive version of the gospel with more Scripture references click the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.)
🔥Was the gospel preached during this message? Did you hear about sin, repentance, God’s law, Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection for your sin, and God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness? Can people get genuinely saved without hearing the full biblical gospel?
While many people have stood and spoken in front of those assembled, there have been conflicting reports about whether or not any further sermons have been preached.
Not all public speaking, even in a Christian or church setting, is preaching. To preach is to point the congregation to Christ and His written Word by taking a passage of Scripture and teaching, exegeting, expositing, and proclaiming it. Rightly handled Scripture is the substance around which a sermon revolves. Other forms of Christian speaking – such as personal testimonies, public prayer, words of encouragement, and merely reading or alluding to Scripture – are valid and appropriate at times, but they are not the same thing as preaching a sermon.
Below is the livestream of the Asbury meeting.
🔥Which types of speaking do you see and hear? Preaching? Teaching Scripture? Personal testimonies? Is the speaker teaching and explaining Scripture, speaking about personal thoughts and experiences, speaking about the experience of the “revival” itself? Do you see more singing and prayer or more preaching?
🔥Consider this passage as you listen to the speakers in the livestream:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:13-17
🔥Could someone hear the full gospel and get saved through what any of the speakers are saying? Why or why not?
There have been a number of reports that the nearly perpetual music during the meetings has largely been songs from Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation. What do you observe in the livestream?
🔥Have all of the songs’ lyrics been doctrinally sound according to Scripture? Is God pleased when we use music from heretical sources to worship Him even if the lyrics of a particular song don’t conflict with Scripture?
One of the concerns early on in the meetings was that rank heretics of the worst order such as Todd Bentley, Rodney Howard Browne, Tasha Cobbs, and Greg Locke were attracted to and enjoyed attending the Asbury meetings. Some speculated that they attended in order to gain some sort of power, take over the meetings, or garner attention for themselves.
🔥Would such demonically controlled people have shown up at a “revival” meeting at any doctrinally sound church you can think of where the gospel was being preached and Scripture was being rightly handled? If they had, what impact should that have had on them, spiritually?
False teacher Todd Bentley posts he is ‘booked to spend several days’ at ‘Asbury revival’ — university says he was not invited to speak
In addition to the worst of the worst evangelical heretics, several in Catholic leadership have attended the meetings and spoken glowingly about them. (Catholicism is not Christianity. Those who hold to Catholic doctrine – and we certainly would expect Catholic leaders to hold to Catholic doctrine – are not Christians because Catholicism anathematizes the biblical gospel.)
‘Jesus was right next to me’: Asbury revival sets Catholics on fire with Holy Spirit
🔥Is it possible for an unbeliever who anathematizes the biblical gospel (i.e. believes and teaches that anyone who believes the biblical gospel is condemned to Hell) to be “set on fire with the Holy Spirit”? According to Scripture, what is the function of the Holy Spirit in the life of an unbeliever?
There has been one (that I’m aware of) instance of someone allegedly exorcising a demon during the meetings. If you’re familiar with the trappings of the New Apostolic Reformation, you know that what you see in the video below goes hand in glove with the NAR’s heretical theology of “spiritual warfare”.
🔥Does a “tree” (see Matthew passage above) of sound doctrine produce heretical fruit? Would this type of incident be likely to happen at any doctrinally sound church you know of? If not, why not? If so, how would it have been handled by the pastors and elders?
What Other Biblically Trustworthy Voices Are Saying
🔥Some have said it’s sinful or wrong to biblically critique the Asbury meetings without physically going there to experience it personally in real time. Does the Bible require us to be physically present while something is happening in order to experience it personally before making informed, biblical evaluation, observation, or critique?
If yes, have you ever evaluated the Holocaust or slavery as sinful? Have you ever said that Mormonism, Hinduism, Satanism, etc., were unbiblical, having never practiced one of those religions yourself? Consider this passage in which Jesus comments on events at which He was not physically present.
Is The Asbury “Revival” A Real Revival? by Samuel Sey
Let’s have some real talk about this whole Asbury revival thing. We’ll start with a lesson from the Western Front. at Not the Bee
The Asbury Revival: observations from a local pastor at The Cripplegate
Why It’s Good to be Skeptical of the Asbury Revival at The Cripplegate
Can Anything Good Come Out of Asbury?
🔥Consider these passages. God is able to take any sin, any false doctrine, any bad situation, and use it for His glory and our good. What are some scripturally good, doctrinally sound things that could happen as a result of the meetings at Asbury?
🔥What are some things doctrinally sound Christians and churches could do to reach out to and help the students at Asbury?
🔥When someone hears the biblical gospel and gets genuinely saved while still a member of a “bad tree” belief system or a follower of a false teacher, does she stay in that unbiblical environment or does God grow her and bring her out of it? What is something you could do to share the gospel with and disciple someone caught in a false belief system?
6 thoughts on “Asbury, Revival, and Discernment”
Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.
Thank you for being so thorough and sharing resources.
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Thank you for the time you put in to gathering this information. I have been searching for reliable information about Asbury and it seems you have distilled it to a manageable degree. It will take me a while to go through it all. Again, thank you.
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AMEN! Thank you for putting together such a clear picture of information on this subject. Love your ministry!
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MARK 1:14-15 MATTHEW 24:14 The Gospel’ the true gospel that is to be preached.
share the Word, thank you and may GOD bless all of you.
Thank you for all of your thorough work here. I listened to Jon Harris today and have read some other good sources as well. I very much appreciate this solid ministry and it’s been a great help and encouragement to me.