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Can Christian Critics Just Give the Asbury Revival, The Chosen, and He Gets Us a Rest?

Every time something pops up on the Christian radar, it’s embarrassing and frustrating to see how many Christian critics leap to immediately “expose” it as false – especially on social media. With Asbury chapel services for instance, it’s as if hundreds of armchair theologians feel obligated to fly to Kentucky, and personally report on whether it’s legitimate or fake.

Of course, hundreds more just make their exalted judgement without even seeing it first hand.

As a Christian community, it often seems our default response is “No – this can’t be of God.”
I saw one response on social media:

The “He Gets Us” ads are what happens when people watch The Chosen instead of reading the Bible.

Cute. But really?

When it comes to The Chosen or He Gets Us, these are folks who not only felt the calling to share the gospel through media, but they wrote scripts, raised money, launched massive productions, placed it in the national media – all at great risk. And while millions of people have seen those projects, I’m just wondering how many people the critics have shared Christ with during that time.

Would I have done those projects differently? Absolutely. None of us would tell the same story the same way, and we all relate to God in different ways. But because I disagree with someone else’s approach to sharing the gospel, that doesn’t necessarily make their approach false.

I keep thinking about the time when the Apostles were on trial in Acts 5:

A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice.

My friend Ed Stetzer posted this last week about Asbury:

I’ve preached at @AsburyUniv in that very chapel. I’ve lectured to their amazing students and met with their thoughtful faculty. They are going to be OK without all of your opinions about this moment.
Let them be.
And let the Spirit do His work.
And leave the results to God.

I’ve spoken in that same chapel as well, and while we obviously need to be discerning and wise, and search the scriptures, how did we get so many self-appointed theology cops who are convinced the rest of us are breathlessly waiting for their opinion?

Guess what? We’re not.

Give them a break. As Ed says, “Let the Spirit do His Work, and leave the results up to God.”

And as Gamaliel said, “If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

Share the gospel. In the process we’ll make mistakes, do wrong things, interpret scripture differently. But either share it, or lighten up on those who do.

I’m with Ed and Gamaliel.

33 Comments

  1. I’m with Phil and especially Ed Stetzer on this:

    “ Let them be.
    And let the Spirit do His work.
    And leave the results to God.”

  2. I’m with all the above. I have not been there. Have no plans to be since I have a life in Indiana. But I will not make a judgment. There are plenty of folks doing that already. And yes, “let the Spirit do His work.”

  3. This is spot on. Just some simple courtesy and a little kindness would be nice to see, especially to those (if we believe what we say we believe) we’re destined to spend eternity with. Maybe we should practice getting along with each other now, and focus on getting as many to that eternity with us as we can. I spoke by phone to a friend who was at Asbury last weekend. This is no airs-and-graces kind of guy, and I’m telling you, the Holy Spirit was all over him, and everything he said was infused with tangible awe at the presence of God he’d just encountered. I know my friend well enough that everybody he meets is going to hear about his encounter, and if they sense in person what I sensed just over the phone, people are going to come to Jesus. And whatever else someone may think about what’s going on at Asbury, that’s an outcome every Christian should be praising God for.

  4. I was at Asuza Pacific College (now University) in 1970. Asbury experienced a revival that year and their students came and shared in our chapel. It lit a fire at Azusa. it was wonderful to experience the outflowing of the Holy Spirit during those days. It’s a memory and time I will never forget.

  5. I like the “He Gets us! ” ads. It was kind of a bell sounding in the culture in the midst of chaos.

  6. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

  7. I sincerely wonder what those self-appointed, social media, arm-chair theo, divine detectives actually care more about; their own name promotion or exalting the name of Christ from this spiritual renewal? Spot on article Phil! I stand with you Ed totally! Bless you.

  8. I agree. One other thing I’m weary of— all of the ‘prophets’ coming forward and saying they prophesied this years ago. Really?

  9. Totally agree. All I ask is that Christians stop posting how many hours of non-stop praying are happening. Let history speak for itself but don’t make this a competition about hours.

  10. I think this is a great opportunity to discuss what a revival is, how to discern if something is a revival or not, and more. I believe genuine revival is a life-changing, encounter with our glorious God.

    Right now it’s too early to know whether the Holy Spirit is permanently altering the course of people’s lives or whether this is like so many Christian Summer camps where kids experience a spiritual high and then go back to living the same as they were. It’s also likely some people are experiencing a life-altering revival while others only a temporary spiritual high.

    In the mean time, I agree… let’s not criticize but pray that the Holy Spirit would rock people to their core, and they come away wanting to glorify Jesus in all they do!

  11. Christians need to relax. I loved the He Gets Us campaign. I love what’s happening at Asbury. And the Chosen is amazing! As a creative, I see the high-quality photography, art, and scripting in He Gets Us and The Chosen. And Asbury is an answer to prayer. Thank you Lord that college students are experiencing what I did when I decided to follow Christ in college. God will move how He wants to move with who He wants to move. No one owns the Holy Spirit or God. He can do whatever He wants.

  12. Mental health challenges are so huge for students these days, highest rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, etc. ever. What if the Spirit just said, “Enough!” and is showing up to bring some hope and peace to people who so desperately need it. And who are we to say every “revival” should look the same. It shouldn’t! Because God is ever new. Yes, let the Spirit do His work. (It IS His work, after all!)

  13. I’ve been around Christian broadcasting circles long enough to know that if Jesus Himself came and stood on the lake near one of my former stations, there would be those that criticize Him for getting the carpet wet when He came inside.

    My mentor Olan Hendrix used to say that you could tell those that are doing something WITH God and those that were doing something FOR Him. My guess is that the critics are doing something FOR Him to prove their worth and wisdom, while those that are part of the Asbury movement are content to do things WITH God and see where He leads.

  14. “I’m sure that what I’m doing isn’t perfect,” replied Billy Graham to an Anglican leader who criticized him. “But I like the evangelism that I’m doing better than the evangelism that you’re not doing.”

  15. Great points. I am a big fan of the hugely popular Christian fiction book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. When they made it into a movie last year that was mainstream and hit all theaters I was so excited. But the response from a lot of Christians was awful! They criticized it even more than the secular side did. Sure – I would have done some things differently but Christians should be supporting work like that!

  16. First of all the Bible commands us to try the spirits. Secondly we are living in a dangerous apostate hour. Thirdly the author is guilty of the very thing he is coming against-criticizing certain groups of Christians who feel they are doing the Lord’s work. I understand some people may speak too soon by denouncing something before they know the facts but on the other hand, a bigger problem today is people speaking too soon by declaring something to absolutely be God before we see the fruit of holiness.

    1. I don’t think we need to “declare something to absolutely be God” from the start. Maybe we just give it time to happen before we start denouncing it. And if it’s not too much, actually encourage it?

  17. Every comment in this thread is valid. In all my conversations with God, He has never said to me, “You are perfect! Now go, criticize others and tell them how to live their lives.” Not once, believe it or not!. As I keep grinding to find some path to heaven, I find most of any progress comes from listening to others who are accepting and don’t judge. These imperfect, humble,searching people are a real help to me. I wish someone had said, “Judge not, less the be judged.”

  18. Mark, the Bible clearly spells out the path to heaven. It isn’t something we “grind out.” Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Christ’s death in our place (for our sins) and His resurrection and acceptance of His sacrifice by God the Father points the way to God.

    We can judge whether something is true or false by whether it aligns with the truth of God’s Word.

  19. I’m not sure about where Ed’s at but I’m fairly confident that Gamaliel is presently under the eternal judgment of God. Not a good place to be or “with” whom I’d want to be associated to. I’d rather “simply” be with the Jesus as revealed solely in the Holy Writ.

  20. Agree Carol. Especially on the point of revival looking the same. This is something that was put in my spirit some time ago. Most Christian are looking for God to move in some similar fashion to our greatest or maybe only prior experience with Him. Human nature perhaps. Felt like a warning to say, don’t fall into this trap. If you are looking for Me to show up like that, I’m not going to and you will miss or be out of position for what I’m really going to do. Perhaps even be resistant to it as we are seeing from many now.
    Reminded as I write this though, at perhaps way more important than the rest of this post, we should resist the natural reaction to have negative thoughts or feelings towards anyone. It surly grieves the heart of God when His people divide over things like this and the world sees us fighting amongst ourselves just like everyone else in this world. We should be moved with compassion to pray. Pray for unity and hearts to be changed to the heart and the will of the Father.

  21. So true. When Jesus was born, the shepherds were there, Simeon and Anna at his dedication at the temple. The elite of the day tried to kill him (Herod), and the so-called “keepers of doctrine” (which were a brood of snakes) persecuted Jesus and eventually conspired, lied, and turn him over to be murdered. It is the same today.

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