Jonathan Edwards On Revival: An Analysis Of His Thought As Used By Proponents And Critics Of The Toronto Blessing -- By: Richard D. Easton

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:2 (Spring 1999)
Article: Jonathan Edwards On Revival: An Analysis Of His Thought As Used By Proponents And Critics Of The Toronto Blessing
Author: Richard D. Easton


Jonathan Edwards On Revival: An Analysis
Of His Thought As Used By Proponents
And Critics Of The Toronto Blessing

Richard D. Easton

Jonathan Edwards continues to be in the minds of cult-watchers as he has been used by both proponents and opponents of the Toronto Blessing. However, I think that both sides have distorted and misused Jonathan Edwards in making their respective cases. In Catch the Fire, Guy Chevreau, a proponent of the Blessing, has a subjective, anti-intellectual focus which Edwards would have found distasteful. In addition, he applies Edwards’s teaching to the Toronto Blessing without noting the significant difference that there were no recorded healings in the First Great Awakening, whereas they are prominent in Toronto. William DeArteaga, another proponent, makes sweeping statements in Quenching the Spirit, alleging negative effects from cessationism, but ignores the fact that Edwards was a cessationist. Hank Hanegraaff, an opponent, in Counterfeit Revival, makes generalizations and ignores the public clarifications of views issued by people whose views he has attacked. I will discuss these issues and compare their portrayals of Edwards with selections from his writings.

The Toronto Airport Vineyard revival began in January 1994. It has been characterized by unusual phenomena such as rounds of laughter, shaking, roaring like a lion, loud shouting and screaming, and being “slain in the Spirit.”1

Guy Chevreau discusses a curious phenomenon seen at the Airport meeting where people jump up and down for

extended periods of time (pogoing). He states that there is little biblical basis to prove the validity of any physical manifestation, and advocates the subjective test of whether a person loves Jesus to test the phenomenon’s validity.2

Edwards would not have rejected the
revival merely because of the presence of
unusual phenomena
.

Edwards would not have rejected the revival merely because of the presence of unusual phenomena. In “Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival” (1742), Edwards stated that many errors and mistakes are inevitable in times of revival when affections are greatly moved.3 Thus, unusual activities do not rule out the possibility that God is acting.

Chevreau shares with many other charismatics an emphasis on the subjective rather than the objective. Thus, he states:

Understanding that the Gospels were not written as critical history, or e...

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