Eleven years on from the birth of the Toronto Blessing I republished an article I wrote at the time. Some thought this was a time when the Church seemed to be going mad.
In January 2008, the following post was identified as the 12th all-time most popular post with readers of this blog. The 13th most-read post was my post concerning Bishop Tom Wright’s response to John Piper.
The post below was republished from an article I wrote many years ago. In some ways it was this article that first stirred the “writing bug” in me. I survey the historical events associated with what was called “The Toronto Blessing” and examine some biblical and church history data. Some of my reformed friends are uncomfortable with the fact that I am willing to see good in what happened. No doubt some of my charismatic friends will be unhappy with the fact that I accept that unhelpful excesses also occurred in some places.
I thought I would share with you—for history’s sake and in its entirety—an article I wrote almost eleven years ago about the so-called “Toronto Blessing.”
An Outpouring of the Holy Spirit? What on Earth is Going On?
In the months following May 1994, there was a sudden wave of bizarre phenomena in many churches in the UK, USA, and elsewhere in the world from a wide variety of backgrounds. Since then, the city of Toronto, Canada, has become closely associated with these events. Much attention has been drawn to all of this in both the secular and Christian press.
Phenomena widely reported with these events included falling over, laughing, crying, shaking, peculiar movements, cries, roars, intoxicating joy, and incoordination. While a dramatic transformation in the life of many of the people affected by these phenomena was observed, a large number of conversions was not reported and most people did not call this a revival.
The falling may, on occasion, have been sudden and violent. I am unaware of any cases of injury resulting. Giddiness was sometimes reported prior to the fall. There usually was not a total loss of consciousness, and most were able to hear, although they might not respond. A feeling of detachment was common—hours could go by and seem like minutes. An apparent spastic or flaccid paralysis was often present in individuals affected. Many reported impressions and visions imparted to them while on the floor. Some felt as if they were physically pinned to the floor and felt quite unable to move.
Likewise, shaking and other apparently involuntary movements took a wide variety of forms. These had to be seen to be believed, but included repetitive leaping to a great height, a heightened physiological tremor, twitching, and being thrown as though hit by an electric charge.
All of the above phenomena occurred in combination with the same individual. They sometimes followed prayer, with laying on of hands, or began spontaneously during worship, preaching, or alone at home. People became so intoxicated with joy that they had to be carried to their cars. Some were carried out rigid, others staggered as though drunk. It was very difficult to observe all of this without wondering, “What on earth is going on?”
A pattern emerged from study of the spread of the these phenomena. People, and especially church leaders, flocked to the affected churches to investigate. Even the skeptical found themselves being affected, much to their surprise. Upon their return home, often before assimilating what had happened, they found similar events breaking out in their own churches. The briefest of statements about God doing strange new things might be followed by a request for any who would like a fresh touch from God to stand. Often at this point an entire congregation would stand to its feet, and following a short prayer, a sudden outbreak of the above phenomena occurred. Those affected might not have even heard of the specific phenomena that had occurred elsewhere!
Origins of the Movement
The center of much of this attention, with 20,000 to 30,000 visitors from around the world in the first six months of 1994, was a tiny building at the end of a runway in Canada where the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church (now Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) was meeting. John Wimber was the unofficial leader of the Vineyard Movement, of which this church was a member. This was one of several groups of charismatic or “new” churches worldwide. The Vineyard Movement was strongest in the USA, but certainly had churches elsewhere, including London.
Although the controversial John Wimber had seen many of these reported phenomena on a smaller scale in his conferences, he seemed to have had little to do directly with the birth of this movement. Indeed, Mr. Wimber subsequently died.
The first place where these phenomena occurred in the intensity and extent now so well known was actually not Toronto, but in the USA. In 1989, South African evangelist, Rodney Howard-Browne, complained that his meeting was being ruined when many people fell off their seats and began laughing. He soon became convinced that God was to blame. These events followed Howard-Browne and persisted after he had left, spreading rapidly. In April 1993, during meetings in Florida which were attended by 10,000 people, waves of laughter affected the congregation. Subsequently, widespread attention was drawn to these events. Approximately 2,200 people were baptized in water, and 800 new members were added to the host church by the middle of 1994. Another church in the area, whose initially reluctant pastor was suddenly struck to the floor with laughter, reported that by the middle of 1994 the church had grown from 800 to 1,500.
As a result of this meeting, Howard-Browne was invited to preach to 4,000 students later that year. He reported, “One night I was preaching on hell … [laughter] just hit the whole place. The more I told the people what hell was like, the more they laughed. When I gave an altar call, they came forward by the hundreds to be saved.”
The interesting thing has been that far from dying down after this evangelist left town, the phenomena continued and spread. The movement did not appear to be centered in a man, and in terms of its spread to the UK, Howard-Browne played a very limited role.
Since 1991, there has also been a separate outbreak in Argentina, where the phenomena seemed to be associated with a full-scale revival. In November 1993, John Arnott, the pastor of the Toronto Vineyard Church, traveled to Argentina and the United States to see what was happening. He met with another Vineyard pastor, Randy Clark of St. Louis, who had been prayed for by Rodney Howard-Browne and subsequently experienced similar effects in his own church.
On the 20th of January 1994, a meeting with Randy Clark took place in the Toronto Vineyard and the phenomena broke out. Very soon, news spread and the people started coming to investigate. From this church, other Vineyard churches and many other groups were affected.
Spread to the United Kingdom
A church in Columbia, Missouri (near St. Louis) was at that time led by a man named Terry Virgo. Terry Virgo was the founder of another international network of “new” churches known as New Frontiers International (NFI). New Frontiers was made up of over 200 churches, most of them in the UK, and included a number of prominent Baptist churches which maintained their links with others. Terry Virgo’s church in Columbia began to be affected after members attended Rodney Howard-Browne’s meetings in St. Louis. In late April, Dave Holden, the UK leader of NFI, made a scheduled visit to this church, and due to an airport delay, also attended a Rodney Howard-Browne meeting. Following his return, the phenomena followed him—first to Cambridge on Sunday May 1st, then to fifty other London church leaders, and then to his own church on May 4th. His church in Sidcup began having an extra evening service on Sunday June 12th, and 900 people completely filled the hall and side hall. Hundreds were turned away, and a wall-to-wall carpet of bodies resulted.
Separately, on Sunday, May 1st, the meeting of the Brighton NFI church was disrupted by an outbreak of the phenomena as one of the elders, Alan Preston, began to speak of what he had seen in Toronto. The church had been in a sense of expectancy since a prophecy in February had warned to prepare for disruption.
On the following Sunday, May 8th, Gerald Coates (the leader of Pioneer, another grouping of thirty “new” churches) attended the Vineyard church in Putney and was surprised by the phenomena which followed his message. Subsequently, the Pioneer movement gradually became affected, particularly after a leadership meeting in July.
That same Sunday, May 8th, in the Queens Road Baptist Church in Wimbledon (also part of the NFI network) one girl on her knees weeping after the service led to widespread weeping and repentance, continuing to 11 p.m. Norman Moss, the church leader, visited Toronto the following weekend. He was there at the same time as Mrs. Eleanor Mumford, the wife of the pastor of the Vineyard Putney church.
On Sunday, May 15th, while he was away, one of the elders, Malcolm Kytes, asked the Wimbledon Church to quietly wait on God. After seven minutes, he fell to the floor and remained there for almost one and a half hours. As he lay there, the phenomena erupted in the rest of the church. A weekly ministers’ fraternal, hosted by the church, grew from 6 to about 200, many traveling from all over the UK.
On Tuesday May 17th, two hundred NFI church leaders, including Terry Virgo and David Holden, met for prayer and fasting and most were overcome by these phenomena. Many were still surprised when the same thing happened in their own churches the following Sunday. The phenomena also spread from this meeting to the NFI churches in South Africa and India who had been represented there.
On Tuesday May 24th, at a small meeting for leaders in her home in South London, Mrs. Mumford shared about her time in Toronto. Nickey Gumbel, a curate at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), a well-known charismatic Anglican church in London, was one of those present when, after prayer, everyone was remarkably affected. He then rushed back to a prayer meeting at his church, to arrive as it was finishing. He briefly shared, prayed, and instantaneously people were affected in ways few had ever experienced or seen. People fell to the ground again and again. Other people walking past the room were also affected.
Sandy Millar, the vicar, was telephoned at the Evangelical Alliance with the news that the whole team was on the floor following prayer. On asking how the caller had got to the phone if that was the case, the caller responded, “I crawled!”
On the following Sunday, May 29th, after Mrs. Mumford shared her experiences, HTB was “rocked by waves of ‘holy laughter’, weeping, and a multitude of other phenomena.” Two days later, Sandy Millar traveled to Toronto to investigate further. The involvement of this church drew the attention of the secular press, and in September 1994, the church considered issuing tickets to their services to ensure regular attendees could gain admission. Holy Trinity became a major focus for the spread of the phenomena, especially among Anglicans.
From the 3rd to the 4th of June, Icthus (another group of “new” churches which began in London) had a leadership conference culminating in a celebration held at Westminster Chapel. Sandy Millar of HTB spoke, and the Icthus movement then experienced the phenomena. David Pytches of St Andrews, Chorley Wood, also visited Toronto. The phenomena broke out in a special church meeting held on 12th of June following his return.
These phenomena have since spread to hundreds of mainly Anglican leaders in meetings held at this church. Another group of charismatic churches, based in Southampton and led by Tony Morton, also experienced the phenomena in June and became a base for further spread.
Many churches in the midlands, including another group of charismatic churches—Covenant Ministries (led by Bryn Jones)—also became affected following Rodney Howard-Browne’s meetings in Birmingham from June 14-17. Most outside of the midlands were unaware of his visit. The Covenant Ministries group also saw hundreds of other church leaders travel to various locations and experience the phenomena.
In July, an Evangelical Alliance leaders’ meeting at Westminster Central Hall resulted in most leaders present being on the floor following prayer, with many shaking. At another leaders’ meeting held on October 1st, Roger Forster, leader of Ichthus, reported that at that point (in what some thought was a conservative estimate) 2,000 UK churches of all types were involved.
These peculiar events have appeared in the secular and Christian press alike. One particularly astonishing account of a meeting at the Vineyard in Putney speaks for itself and was published in the Times:
“After his sermon, Mr. Mumford prayed for ‘the tornado to visit the church’… Outside it was calm, but suddenly the curtains shielding an open door blew in and
over my face, a huge wind rushed in, scattering service sheets and papers … nearly everyone else fell over, stood rigid, or [were] shaking, sobbing, clutching at their faces, or waving their hands before them … I clambered over a couple of prostrate bodies for tea and coffee and found myself giggling uncontrollably … I felt dizzy, grasped a chair in order not to collapse … I downed the coffee and ran.”
Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist, has commended the current work and declared he is praying for a new touch from the Holy Spirit.
It’s Not New! – Similar Phenomena in History
Much of the secular press, and even at times the Christian press, speak as though these phenomena are a recent occurrence. They have actually been seen on and off in various places within the charismatic section of the Church for some years. In particular, John Wimber conferences have been noted for the phenomena. American psychiatrist and author, Dr. John White, wrote on the subject in 1988 and discussed all of the various phenomena. It is the extent and intensity of the current phenomena that is different now.
The phenomena have also been reported in Church history, particularly during revivals. Earlier this century, in the Belgian Congo revival, there were many “drunk with the Spirit, many shaking beyond their control, others throwing themselves on the floor … yet none were hurt.”
The so called “holy laughter” was also a feature of the Welsh Revival of 1904, as were the “sobbing disorderly meetings.”
In 1859, a revival broke out in Ireland which then spread extensively in the British Isles. Physical “prostrations” were very marked in Ireland, and also in Scotland and parts of England. “Even strong men have staggered and fallen down under the wounds of their conscience. Great bodily weakness ensues. The whole frame trembles.”
Towards the end of the 1700’s, in camp meetings in the USA, “large numbers fell and would lie motionless for hours or would shriek or groan at intervals … Some talked, but could not move. Some beat the floor with their heels … It was a common sight to see men leap, sob, shout, laugh, or swoon … the scoffer was as likely to be stricken as the convert.”
Charles Finney, the famous 18th century revivalist, “saw people weep, cry, and fall senseless.” John Wesley, a revival preacher earlier in the 1700’s, was no stranger to these sort of phenomena. For example, while preaching in Wapping, London, “Many of those that heard began to call upon God with strong cries and tears. Some sunk down, and there remained no strength in them; others exceedingly trembled and quaked; some were torn with a kind of convulsive motion in every part of their bodies, and that so violently that often four or five persons could not hold one of them.”
One man who listened to Wesley on another occasion found that before the sermon was over, “I was so overpowered with joy and love that I had much ado to walk home.” This experience sounds remarkably like the “drunkenness” reported by many more recently.
Wesley also reports having discussed with his colleague, George Whitefield, the latter’s reservations about the phenomena. Wesley says,
“But the next day he [Whitefield] had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion; a second trembled exceedingly; the third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise; the fourth equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth him.”
There is even a most remarkable reference from the revival in Camberslang, Scotland, around this time to roaring, where the wife of a Carter in Rutherglen, following family prayers, “was made to roar out twice in a hideous and terrible manner … not like a human voice.”
David Brainerd saw a revival among American Indians beginning in 1745. He writes, “The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly ‘like a rushing mighty wind’ and with an astonishing energy that bore down all before it.”
John Bunyan, the seventeenth century divine and author of Pilgrim’s Progress, while reading Hebrews 2:14,15 “thought that the glory of these words was then so weighty on me, that I was both once and twice ready to swoon … yet not with grief and trouble, but with solid joy and peace.”
Responses to the Phenomena
There have been numerous explanations of the phenomena. Mass hysteria or hypnosis have been suggested by many lay people. Alan Morrison, a Baptist minister in Derbeyshire, linked the phenomena with mesmerism. This, however, reveals a simplistic view of such phenomena. Mass hysteria is an illness associated with negative symptoms. Hypnotism cannot explain the phenomena, particularly when the ‘hypnotist’ (church leader) is already on the floor himself!
Suggestion and peer pressure are other factors that have been used to explain what is happening. In meetings where the phenomena are all of one type, or individuals are prayed with for prolonged periods, the pressure to conform must be strong. Some individuals may also learn “appropriate” responses to certain stimuli.
Baldwin, a consultant psychiatrist, wrote a critique of John Wimber’s meetings for the CMF, describing similar phenomena on a smaller scale. He felt that much could be explained in terms of CNS excitation due to excessive sensory input and primed by suggestion. The release of certain behaviors such as laughing, etc. could result, and “in the extreme instance, momentary deregulation of the brain stem occurs, resulting in complete physical collapse.” Baldwin is quick to point out that this does not rule out the Spirit’s activity in producing these phenomena, but merely allows the influence of other factors. He points out the danger of exaggerating the differences between the natural and the supernatural. It would certainly seem to be the case that previous experience, unwitting suggestion by the leader of a meeting, and the phenomena experienced by others can all have an influence on how a person responds to a sudden experience of God.
The presence of bizarre phenomena, even if we suppose them to be supernatural in origin, does not guarantee that the Spirit is at work. The prophets of Egypt were able to reproduce most of the signs that Moses produced. (Exodus 7, 8). Jesus warns that false prophets will appear and produce signs (Mark 13:22), and warns that even miraculous powers exercised in his name are no guarantee that a person will be saved. (Matthew 7:22)
There are some who find the whole thing somewhat disturbing. Citing the Scripture, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40, AV), the rampant display of powerful emotions and peculiar actions is seen as inappropriate. There is a tendency among evangelicals to downplay experience altogether. Faith is made to be mere intellectual assent, and if there are no feelings or experiences, that re
ally doesn’t matter. This is simply not biblical.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the famous preacher (who was also medically trained) said that the trouble with many Christians today is that they
“talk much about the truth but very often they have never felt its power … They have never been mastered by it … The essence of the Christian position is experience—experience of God! It is not a mere intellectual awareness or apprehension of truth … It is inconceivable that a man should really perceive the truth of this Gospel and feel nothing … It is impossible that this amazing message that tells us that God, before time, planned this scheme of salvation, that the Son came in the fullness of time, humbled himself, divested himself of the signs of his glory, should leave us unmoved.”
It would seem that if we become profoundly moved, the depths of our emotions may naturally find expression in at least some of these phenomena. As the American, Jonathan Edwards (who saw revival in the 1700’s characterized by many of these phenomena) put it:
“It is easily accounted … how a right influence, a true and proper sense of things should have such affects on the body, even those which are of the most extraordinary kind, such as taking away bodily strength, or throwing the body into great agonies, and extorting loud cries.”
Of course, the mere force of emotion does not indicate the reality of a person’s experience of Christ; we must look elsewhere for that.
The scriptures mention many of the phenomena seen today. The accusation of “drunkenness” (Acts 2:13-16) made to the Apostles is interesting. Scripture does not say what it was that led to the accusation. It is unlikely that people speaking in languages they did not know would be sufficient in itself to produce these accusations. As the disciples were suddenly filled with the Spirit and boldness, it seems that they knew the same intoxication with joy seen today. The current move has been identified by many as “a time of refreshing.” (Acts 3:19) Certainly many today are feeling empowered for Christian service. The flourishing of new life in the desert seen in Isaiah 35, and the typological interpretation of Ezekial 37, with the river representing the Spirit of God which we are called to enter fully into rather than only ankle deep, have been widely quoted.
Laughter is the result of God restoring his people in Psalm 126:2, and is also described positively in Abraham (Genesis 17:17). In this reference, Abraham also fell to the ground. Falling to the ground in the presence of God is frequently described in the Bible. The following are examples: Joshua (Josuha 5:14), the parents of Samson (Judges 13:20), Jehosophat and all the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:18), Daniel (Daniel 10:9), Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 17:6), Jesus (Mark 14:35), the guards arresting Jesus (John 18:6), the Apostle Paul on his conversion (Acts 9:4), and John (Revelation 1:17). Admittedly most of these fell forwards and most of today’s cases fall backwards, but in not every case is the direction described. Something similar may be meant by the references to trances (Acts 10:10, Acts 11:5, Acts 22:17). Saul also is described as lying all day and all night prophesying. (1 Samuel 19:24)
This “falling over” has often been referred to as being slain in the Spirit. Many do not like this terminology as the phrase is more in keeping with the experience of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5-11) than the experiences of many currently reporting this phenomena.
There are also many examples (e.g. Exodus 19) of trembling before the Lord, although these examples are usually accompanied with fear, which does not always seem to be the case today.
If we are to believe in a God who never changes, we have to accept that God could do the same today. The question is—Is he actually doing the same today?
Testing the Movement
If we are to accept the unavoidable conclusion that, both in the Bible and in Church history, God has acted in similar ways to what we are seeing today, we need discernment in order to determine whether he is indeed doing so.
Jonathan Edwards discussed how to judge if a movement is of God. According to Edwards, we should not be influenced by
- Bizarre and unusual phenomena
- The interest generated by the phenomena in the world
- The ecstasy and reports of impressions or visions
- The fact that imitation is to some degree responsible for producing the outward effects
- The conduct and teaching of those affected.
It was his opinion that none of these things prove anything.
It was in his study of 1 John 4 that he found the signs to indicate the genuineness of a work of God:
- An increase in esteem for Jesus as the Son of God
- A greater following of God’s ways
- An increased hunger for and understanding of God’s Word (thus listening to the Apostles)
- An increased love for God and man.
It is by the fruit of this movement that we will know its genuineness. (Matthew 7:15-20). The result of all of this ought to be a greater desire for holiness and to see souls saved.
What of the current movement? Terry Virgo reports that he has observed several specific results of this movement.
“Prayer meetings are growing in size and number. People have a greater desire to be with the people of God. Bad relationships are being resolved. There is a new desire to witness, and an increase in the participation in meetings. Morale has been lifted greatly, and there is a fresh hunger.”
Sandy Millar writes, “People are experiencing a tremendous new love for Jesus Christ, for the Bible as God’s Word, and for the things God loves.”
At least some of what has been going on seems to be genuine. Thousands of believers have been asking God for his Spirit’s influence. To claim that they are all receiving something else flies in the face of Scripture. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
At times there have also been excesses. It is hard to disagree with a charismatic pastor’s concern about a few people in Toronto laughing uncontrollably while God’s Word was read concerning the death of Christ. A response to this kind of thing, where powerful words from the Bible have seemed to excite a few people further, is to quietly ask the affected to remove themselves or be removed if incapable. We do not have to accept everything we see simply because we conclude that God is at work.
There is a worrying tendency among some to try to appropriate the movement as though it belongs to them, or indeed to attach it to a particular church or place. This article deliberately has not called the phenomena, “The Toronto Blessing,” which has become an all-too-frequent name for it. If this is a blessing, it is God who has given it, not Toronto. In fact, the very fact that this “blessing” has not been confined to any particular group in spite of our terrible divisions is perhaps a sign of its genuineness. There are some signs of a growing unity where churches and groups who have separately discovered the same phenomena are having joint meetings, particularly among their leaders.
What Should I Do?
Four broad categories of response can be observed:
The Pharisee Response
After a minimal investigation, possibly largely by hearsay, some vigorously oppose what is going on. As one Baptist pastor who had never attended a meeting pronounced, “This movement is not of God.” The extreme denunciation of any movement is out of place without a careful investigation. In the case of the Pharisees, their opposition to this young upstart, Jesus of Nazareth, was largely based on jealousy. To oppose from a distance is dangerous since, unless one throws aside the history of revi
vals, one has to conclude that these phenomena could be the work of God. How sad to fall into the same trap as those biblical men who opposed every revival in history.
The Gamaliel Approach (Acts 5)
Leave it alone since, if it is of God, it will continue; otherwise, it will fail. At first sight, Gamaliel’s “stand back and see what happens” advice seems good. It is certainly an improvement on the first position. We should not forget, however, that these were the words of an unbeliever. The biblical view of the Church is that, like it or not, we are all part of one another. When a widespread movement is affecting so large a part of the Church, if you feel you have wisdom and maturity, you have a responsibility to investigate. If this is a work of God, don’t miss out! If this is a deceptive endeavor, rescue your brothers and sisters!
A Blind Acceptance of Everything
There are those who become so enraptured by experiences that nothing else matters. There was apparently at least one church which had not had a sermon for nine weeks solid. This is a road fraught with danger. Power is dangerous. Heresy, error, and sin may result. We need to be more responsible than this.
Recognize Carefully the Work of God and Seek His Blessing
Careful investigation with discernment is called for. We should actively promote this movement if it is of God. It is a fearful thing to oppose God. At the same time, we need to be wise, as excesses can happen. We need to ensure that decency is always maintained. For example, sometimes young women wear clothing that can become revealing as they fall. This needs to be managed to prevent improper exposure. We need to care for those prayed for, and particularly those who feel left out. Any appearance of manipulation ought to be rooted out.
A careful eye needs to be kept on the stricken. A medical emergency could easily be missed. There has already been one case of status epileptics which was, fortunately, discovered amidst a mass of twitching bodies. This is one area where the trained eye of a doctor could be especially useful. The graying face could also easily be missed if surrounded by a carpetful of other prostrate bodies. Let’s endeavor to conquer our built-in cynicism and discover whether this is a move of God. There is a great need for the wisdom and steadiness that a doctor provides. Should you be serving your brothers and sisters in this way?
If you choose to attend a meeting, it’s important not to merely go as a spectator. Nor should you go with a strong desire to be struck by a particular experience. You may well merely witness a bizarre, possibly humorous, spectacle if either attitude is yours. Instead, attend with a desire to experience God for yourself if all this is genuine. Do not seek phenomena, SEEK GOD! We are desperate, needy people who live in a world destitute of any hope, except that which is offered in the gospel. We ought to cry out for the sovereign influence of the Holy Spirit for our renewal—yes—but also for revival where countless people become Christians. We need to see a work that is not confined to church buildings, still less to a time for prayer. There are some who believe that we stand on the threshold of a great revival. Lloyd-Jones, who died in 1981, believed he was doing a preparatory work for a great revival by helping to renew a foundation of biblical teaching. Let’s hope this movement is indeed a small shaking, leading up to a great earthquake of God’s moving to awaken his Church and add many, many people to his bride.
If that is so, the current phenomena could very well be a part of God testing us to see whether we are faithful in the small things so he can entrust us with the big things. Let’s not veer away from our biblical roots, nor despise the work of God. In view of the dangers of both excesses and blanket rejection, the correct approach to the movement is surely found in one of Paul’s letters:
“Do not quench the Spirit … but test everything; hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19,21, NRSV)