I listened to Voddie Bauchaum summarize what is wrong at Asbury recently. The video title is (Wow) The Asbury Revival is NOT of God. His summary is similar to other skeptical takes I have heard, so I will summarize his summary here. (You can also watch the video and hear what he says for yourself.)
Bauchaum said he listened to four testimonies of students who attended the “revival”, and they “confirmed exactly what I figured was going on.” It’s a small sampling size, but I have no reason to believe he didn’t hear what he heard.
His conclusions were more in number than his sampling size. First, he said, “This event is nothing more than strange fire.” (The whole event.) For proof, he offered what the students said in their testimonies: One student admitted said he experienced a “fit of laughter”; another student claimed his mother began speaking in “unknown tongues”. (If Bauchaum supplied a summary of the other two testimonies he heard, I missed it.)
The phrase, “strange fire”, is a reference to Leviticus 10:1-3 an incident in which two priests put incense into censors and offered “strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.” (KJV) Those men were consumed by fire from the Lord, the passage says. Therefore, Bauchaum is comparing the people at Asbury to the two rogue priests who presented offerings to God they were not instructed to give and were killed for it.
Clearly, Bauchaum is suggesting that “this event” is not of God; it is “unauthorized” worship; and God views it like He viewed the priests who offered strange fire and were killed for it.
As further proof that this event could not be from God, he said, “A lot of this took place out of the church!” He added that “the university ordains women for ministry, so there is a lot wrong here.”
He went on to explain to say that he was looking for a man of God taking the pulpit to open the Bible and preach the word of God, “and it never happened.” Though he didn’t say it, I am left to assume that revivals must happen only inside church buildings, and then only when a man of God preaches the word of God from a proper pulpit.
I note that he didn’t do much research if he only heard four testimonies, as I found testimonies all over the Internet, including many statements by professors and school administrators. The happenings at Asbury took place over roughly a two-week period, so there was a lot of footage to see and many people who were there talking about it.
I also note that the chapel service began with someone preaching, but, then, I don’t know if he was “a men of God”, and I don’t recall whether he used a pulpit. (Sarcasm alert.)
Bauchaum warned that Satan tricks people with music. As anecdotal proof, he recounted his own experience attending a Pentecostal church a few times when he was a new believer. He recalled feeling emotional, on the verge of tears, because he felt like God was moving, but he determined it was “nonsense” after reading the Bible for himself for several weeks.
To his credit, he said that he “matured really fast” during during those few weeks. (I am not being sarcastic now. These were his words, not mine.) He said he desired to hear someone preach the Word of God because he was hungry for preaching.
To be fair, I can appreciate. I have been in his shoes before when all I wanted was to hear a meaty sermon that dug deep into God’s word.
Bauchaum recalled an old Paul Washer sermon in which people were moved by the preaching of the word, not by the music. As proof that this is the way it should be done, he quoted Romans 10:17: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (No issue there.)
I don’t know if Bauchaum is a cessationist (someone who believes the “gifts of the Holy spirit” have ceased), so I don’t want to make any assumptions. If he is a cessationist, then it would not matter if people had limbs grow back: a cessationist has already determined God doesn’t do those things anymore.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, I can admit that his concerns might be just as validly expressed by someone who is not a cessationist. His concerns do suggest a need for some circumspection, but I have greater concern over his conclusions than any of the spectacle he described that took place on the Asbury University campus for over two weeks in February of 2023.
Many critical remarks, like his, were being made as the happening was live – literally streaming live. People didn’t even let it play out before they pronounced it dead on arrival. Nothing to see here. Go back to eating your manna in the wilderness.
I recognize some validity to their cautionary approach. I recognize the need to “test all things”. In the same breath, however, Paul implores us to “hold fast what is good”. (1 Thess. 5:21) To “hold fast” onto something, however, one must grab hold of it. A person cannot hold fast to something he hasn’t grasped to begin with. Thus, Paul is not talking about rejecting apparent spiritual demonstrations (like prophesy, which is the subject of this verse) “out of hand”.
Notice also that Paul didn’t say, “Hold onto only what is from God.” He said, “Hold onto what is good.” More on that in a minute.
Many people claim that what happened at Asbury was “not of God”, or words to that affect. Bauchaum is essentially saying the same thing, by calling it “strange fire”, though he wasn’t as definitive in his conclusion.
I sure hope they are right! Because, if they aren’t right about their assessment, isn’t that close to what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is?
The context in which Jesus spoke the warning not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was the healing of “a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute”. (Matt. 12:22-32) The people, generally, “were amazed”, but the Pharisees were not so impressed. They determined/discerned, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
Jesus reasoned called them on the carpet for not only failing to recognize God acting in their presence, but saying it was from Satan. He said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Then, he said these words:
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Obviously, Jesus cast out the demons, not by Satan, but by the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God had come upon the Pharisees, and they completely missed it!
Jesus implicated the Pharisees when he said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” The Pharisees were opposing Jesus and the Holy Spirit by their failure to recognize God at work. Their negativity had the effect of scattering – turning people off, and pushing them away from God.
The takeaway, I believe, is that we should NOT be quick to judge, because our quick judgments may be false! According to Paul, we need to grab hold of what appears to be of God to test it. Only then can we hold it fast. We can’t hold fast to anything we haven’t held onto in the first place.
In another incident, John, the apostle, said to Jesus, “[W]e saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” The response by Jesus provides us guidance for how we should respond to the Asbury situation: “‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.'”
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul said, “[N]o one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Thus, if casting out demons (or worshiping, or confessing sins, or praying for one another) is being done in the name of Jesus, it is by the Holy Spirit – by definition!
For over two weeks in the chapel at Asbury University, Mostly young people, and old people alike, worshiped, praised, and lifted up the name of Jesus. By Jesus’s test and by Paul’s test, then, they did so by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
With all of these things said, I am going to agree with the need to be circumspective about these things. Jesus said to the Samaritan women at the well: “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” I want to agree with Voddie Bauchaum that truth matters.
False prophets say false things and lead people astray. They might even perform signs and wonders. We do need to be careful that we are not deceived and led astray, but rejecting things out of hand is dangerous.
We need to remember that no can can say, “Jesus is Lord”, but by the Spirit . If Jesus is being lifted up as Lord, God is working.
That God is working doesn’t necessarily mean that everything anyone does while God is working is right, or true, or of God. Jesus, also, experienced people in the crowds who would not believe or who believed falsely. Judas was one of the twelve! There are tares among the wheat, but Jesus said that we dare not root out the tares that look like wheat because doing so will take some of the wheat with them.
3 thoughts on “Of the Holy Spirit, Truth, Tares, and Wheat at the Asbury Revival”
Recommended reading for all those interested in further insight into why the presence of God shows up in one place, but not in another: “The Awe of God” by John Bevere.
It’s a new release (just came out in February). Those already familiar with John’s writings know that he’s a scholar who has been teaching the Word for over 40 years. I trust John as everything he pens is backed up with solid scriptural foundations. IMO, this book is a must-read for every believer in America (if we REALLY want God’s presence to show up!).
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Thanks for sharing those scriptures. Did he name the students he interviewed? What does laughter have to do with strange fire? ( don’t answer that lol) His arguments sound weak.
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He didn’t say who it was. I am speculating that he was put off by the “pentecostal” aspect of what three students said. He seems to think it’s all “nonsense.” There’s a lot of that “nonsense” in Acts, but he might say that God doesn’t do those things anymore. I don’t really know his stance on that, though, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions.
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