Saturday, May 29, 2010

Global Awakenings in the 20th Century

I originally posted this in Google Reader, but now I'd like to share it here.

This is a very helpful look at revivals and awakenings from a global perspective. Shaw's introductory and concluding chapters are extremely useful. Check it out!

Global Awakening: How 20th-century Revivals Triggered a Christian RevolutionMark Shaw, Global Awakening: How 20th-Century Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution. IVP, 2010. Paperback.

Here's a little bit about the book. 

Shaw defines revivals as such: "charismatic people movements that seek to change their world by translating Christian truth and transferring power." Note that the "people movement" concept is qualified by "charismatic." Although the majority of the revivals he studies in this book are a result of the growing Pentecostal movement, I don't think we should confuse "charismatic" with Pentecostalism, per se. Shaw clarifies this by arguing that 
God is the primary agent of all that happens but that he chooses secondary causes through which he exercises his sovereign rule and causation. As a believer I affirm the concursus as the way God advances his mission in the world. He produces these theanthropic (divine-human) events called revivals. (p. 207)
What I've found most interesting about this book is his identification of common strands between the various revivals in the 20th-century. Four "spiritual norms" he identifies are 1) personal liberation, 2) eschatological vision, 3) radical community, and 4) evangelical activism.

Another helpful section distinguished between three types of people: Nativists, Vitalists and Revivalists (maybe I can highlight these in another blog post).

He concludes with a very positivistic view of the future shaped by
revivals. He claims that revivals "will change our world in powerful ways as they subvert ideological and religious monopolies now dominating our world" (213). When you consider how recent globalization has affected every nation on so many levels, how the modern missions movement has expanded so rapidly, the progress we've made in translating and distributing the scriptures and other advances, his conclusion seems to make very good sense. Just like the Reformation propelled academic and scientific studies, the modern revivals have contributed to massive decolonization and empowerment of many third-world peoples. We definitely haven't arrived and he doesn't claim that all has been perfect or even deeply orthodox. However, we've seen a lot of change in the past century due specifically to the revival movements of the 20th-century.
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