Today I’m linking an enlightening video on revivalism in the United States and why American churches today incorporate practices such as altar calls, mindless repetition in music, spontaneous baptisms, speaking in tongues, and other forms of emotionalism in worship.
Of particular interest is the fact that some preachers during this revival period worked on commission, being paid by the convert. It doesn’t seem far-fetched in an American society which continually emphasizes the individual’s freedom/will as if man is capable of converting others through natural means. Nor is it particularly surprising given the rise of megachurches today with their private plane pastors. In a capitalistic system, people are products and results demand monetization. This decisional regeneration view, however, is diametrically opposed to a biblical soteriology whereby God saves His people by his own autonomous will, not through gimmicks or entertainment.
As we read in 1 John 4:19, “We love him because he first loved us.” Or John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Or Romans 9:16, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.” Or Ephesians 1:4-7. Or Romans 8:29-30. And on and on we could go. Ultimately, we must realize that biblical worship is primarily about God, not man.
The point Malachi Tresler makes is a sound one: revivalism has led to a culture where “non-Christians are setting the agenda for the liturgy of the church.” In post-revival America, much of the emphasis is on counting converts and meeting with God not through communion but through a heightened emotional response to music. Let’s be cautious to not offer strange fire to the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-2), but return to a biblical understanding of worship, worship that glorifies God and edifies the saints.