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OPINION

What Is the Asbury Revival?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan

Asbury University, located in Kentucky, is experiencing something — a happening, a mass formation psychosis, a spiritual awakening? The school is located in a town of about 6,000 people and currently struggles to support a population that has nearly doubled in size over the course of the last few weeks.

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Reportedly, people from around the world are making what must be described as a pilgrimage to the small university. Nothing like this has happened for nearly half a century. The wider church community plods on with the traditional Sunday school, Sunday morning, and evening services. And, since the great New York City revival of 1857, with Wednesday night prayer services adopted from the organic nightly prayer meetings which gave birth to the 19th century revival.

Asbury University conducts regular chapel services where students “sing, pray, and hear the Word of God proclaimed.” The school stands in the Wesleyan–Arminian theological tradition; the University’s statement of faith may be found here.

On February 8th, a chapel service much like any other was held at the University. However, something unusual happened following a student’s spontaneous, public declaration of spiritual need. From that day, a continuous session of prayer, repentance, and worship has ensued. Even more importantly, students and faculty report that many individuals have come to a saving faith in Christ.

What is happening at Asbury University and why is multifaceted. Certainly, it’s a reaction to the vacuity experienced by America’s youth who’ve been promised utopianism by political leaders and by supercilious faculty members espousing a threadbare neo-liberalism.

The absolute disaster of the Biden administration, measured by any metric, has produced a deep sense of disquietude. Americans seem to be in a constant state of agitation, bombarded by reports of mysterious calamity from train derailments to unexplained explosions and fires at poultry processing plants. Sensing deep weakness, our adversaries are emboldened to the point of flying spy balloons across the breadth of our nation, knowing that the lickspittle, mannequin in the White House will respond with only a vacant smile while dribbling over an ice cream cone.

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It’s almost as if we’re being infiltrated by agents of foreign powers who are engaging in probing actions, assaulting the electrical grid and other elements of critical infrastructure. It’s an eery repetition of the Nazi saboteur action wherein they attacked our infrastructure, hoping to create confusion, demoralization, and opportunities for additional exploitation. In 1942 you’d have to infiltrate James Bond style via U boat. Today, all you have to do is wander across a completely open southern border — and millions have. 

It’s not just the political landscape that is a barren wasteland, our universities are a soviet-style commissariat, peddling a necrotic post-modernism. The death of meaning is just an unsophisticated version of Frederick Nietzsche’s god is dead philosophy. At least Nietzsche recognized something had to replace what he’d attempted to destroy. Our current crop of would-be god killers don’t have Nietzsche’s intellect and are content to wallow in nihilism. 

After all, the death of meaning is just a supremely cynical means to an end — it’s the irreligious version of the indulgence. It’s another attempt to provide intellectual cover for every perversion man’s evil heart can concoct. And, it makes about as much sense as Aaron trying to convince Moses that the golden calf just popped out of the fire. For instance, if biological fact is amenable to rhetorical fictions, then nothing is sacred and that is the infernal end-game. 

In juxtaposition to all this is the Asbury awakening. But, it’s more than just reactionary. It’s an affirmation of what we all instinctively know: that meaning is a priori — it is the fundamental presupposition, and anything that contradicts this is objectively wrong. 

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Christ is meaning — the Logos — and all things have their existence in Him. (Acts 17:28) No matter how many sexually confused and costumed people Biden appoints to positions of power and leadership, God’s objective reality remains unchanged. And repentance, the acknowledgement of failing to meet God’s standard and turning away from the sinful — a hallmark of the Asbury awakening — is an implicit recognition of one’s relationship to, and accountably for, meaning. 

Time will tell the breadth and scope of what Asbury really means. However, we can evaluate what is currently going on by the standard Christ gave us, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:15-20) Tim Beougher, pastor of West Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville and evangelism professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave some sage advice in recent comments to Kentucky Today. “Jonathan Edwards answered…criticism during the First Great Awakening by using a helpful phrase: ‘in the main.’ What is at the heart of the movement? What is happening ‘in the main.’ There will always be ‘excess’ on the fringe…and/or Satanic opposition.” 

If, in the main, people are being drawn to repentance, then that is an indication of real revival and awakening. If, in the main, people are being convicted of their spiritual poverty and desperate need for personal appropriation of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. If people are led to ask Him to save them from eternal damnation by placing their trust only in Christ and in nothing else — not a single, personal deed or religious affiliation — then Asbury, in the main, is experiencing a real, Holy Spirit induced, revival. 

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We will only be a free people so long as we are a moral people. Immorality is incompatible with democracy; the French Revolution is an exemplar. Tyranny is invited when a nation becomes incapable of ruling its own vices, and we are well on the way to tyranny. Our institutions have become corrupt because we have become corrupt. We allow our politicians to lie because we have become deceitful. We should all pray that the genuine fruits of Asbury should be first realized in our own lives and families and then across the political and social landscape.

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