The One Book: Revival and Revivalism by Iain H. Murray

Of the more than 300,000 books published annually in US, how is one to sort through such a smorgasbord of literary titles and select only the choicest delicacies?

The book, Revival & Revivalism by Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth, 1994), uses the records of participants in both the First Great Awakening (1GA) and Second Great Awakening (2GA) to present a history of revivals in early America and their impact on modern American Christianity.  Murray assesses both revivals through the lenses of history and theology and glimpses several important lessons for Christians and the Church.  Let me mention just two.

 

The Elizabethan polymath, Francis Bacon, counseled, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”  Undoubtedly sound advice.  But of the more than 300,000 books published annually in US, how is one to sort through such a smorgasbord of literary titles and select only the choicest delicacies?  Getting others to recommend books that have impacted them is a good start, so let me introduce you to one that has been of tremendous help to me personally and professionally.  The book, Revival & Revivalism by Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth, 1994), uses the records of participants in both the First Great Awakening (1GA) and Second Great Awakening (2GA) to present a history of revivals in early America and their impact on modern American Christianity.  Murray assesses both revivals through the lenses of history and theology and glimpses several important lessons for Christians and the Church.  Let me mention just two.

The Importance of History to Christians

Murray showed me that history is an important tool for Christians because it helps us understand the present by understanding the past.  Many assume the 1GA and 2GA were basically the same kind of revivals merely separated in time.  Yet history helps us to see that such an assumption is far from the historical reality.

Murray documents that the 1GA, which occurred in the middle of the Eighteenth Century, was understood by the participants to be the unintended result of the normal use of the biblical means of prayer and preaching.  The participants attested that these ordinary means were attended by increased instances of deep conviction, true conversions, and the spread of the gospel throughout the Colonies.  These pastors didn’t get results; they watched God produce results, providentially using them as agents and their preaching as means.  As one contemporary assessed it, “The Lord seems to have stepped out of the usual paths of ordinances, to effect this work more immediately in the displays of his Almighty power, and outpouring of his Spirit; probably to show that the work is his own” (pp. 128-9).

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