CAN CHRISTIANS RUIN a REVIVAL?
A POPULAR criticism of the Welsh Revival was that four Churches
gained 80,000 in the Revival and lost 20,000 afterwards. Why did
converts leave these "mainline" Churches? They were frozen out.
Said Dr. Eifion Evans: "The ecstasy of the new wine was all too
soon curbed by the frigidity of the old bottles." Some ministers
even objected to the converts' assurance of salvation!
Like the Methodists over a hundred years before, against their
leaders' wishes Revival converts reluctantly formed new churches.
The Pentecostal-Apostolic Churches began.
In the Revival itself, great criticism was made against its apparent
leader, Evan Roberts. He was called "the young lunatic." A
respected minister published a letter against "the Evan Roberts
Revival" calling it "a sham Revival, a mockery, a blasphemous
travesty of the real thing," an "exhibition," "froth," "false fire" and
The effect on the young lay-preacher Roberts was dramatic. Though
he seemed not to notice the criticisms, within days his doctor
diagnosed a nervous disorder. Five months later, he went into
seclusion, almost never to minister in public again for the rest of
his long life.
The effect on the Revival was terrible. Before the published criticism,
conversions were 35,000 a month. In the month of the criticism
and the two months following, conversions dropped to 5000 a
month, recovering a little once the controversy had died down.
But the mud stuck. "For many years the 1904 Revival was looked
upon as 'much a do about nothing' because of its emotionalism."
Many more years were to pass before an historical perspective
could restore its name as a wonderful and lasting work of God.
How slow we are to learn our lessons! Because less than fifty
years before, exactly the same thing had happened in Wales! Of
the 1859 Welsh Revival a leading Christian wrote: "It is a man-made
Revival; the chief instruments in it are not persons of any weight or
character ... it is mere excitement and enthusiasm, and although
many persons of disreputable conduct seem to be for the present
changed, yet, when the excitement ceases, they will return to their
former habits, and their end will be worse than their beginning ...
the noise - the confusion - the loud and long prayers - and singing,
with various excesses of feeling, and extravagance of language -
these are most offensive ... The 'converts' will ere long be 'perverts.'
They will go back, betray religion and bring disgrace upon the
And what was the true situation? "About 110,000 were converted
and added to the churches ... one estimate, cited in 1897, is that
19 out of every 20 (95 per cent) maintained their profession and
were fruitful in godly duties."
104,500 still going strong for God 38 years later! Oh, for more
"man-made Revivals!" [so-called!!]
We have seen that Christians can ruin or stop a Revival. Can
Christians also cause a Revival to happen?