Jonathan Edwards, the Toronto Blessing, and the Spiritual Gifts: Are the Extraordinary Ones Actually the Ordinary Ones? -- By: John D. Hannah

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 17:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: Jonathan Edwards, the Toronto Blessing, and the Spiritual Gifts: Are the Extraordinary Ones Actually the Ordinary Ones?
Author: John D. Hannah


Jonathan Edwards, the Toronto Blessing, and the Spiritual Gifts:
Are the Extraordinary Ones
Actually the Ordinary Ones?

John D. Hannah *

When interviewed recently by a leading Christian journal, the Anglican John R. Stott was asked his opinion of the Toronto Blessing Movement, a manifestation of charismatic renewalism, some sug-gest revival, which began in early 1994 in Canada. While reluctant overtly to criticize the phenomena per se, he mentioned several areas of concern: its overt anti-intellectualism; various animal-like utterances; and the falling exercise, sometimes referred to as “doing carpet time” or “resting in the Spirit.”1 The movement, nonetheless, has become so large that thousands of visitors have transformed the once-small Airport Vineyard Church into a focal point of activity. Huge crowds have filled the ballrooms of our largest hotels across the country; and it has assumed international proportions.2

The defining characteristic of the movement has been the unique physical phenomena in the meetings, particularly certain physical and auricular manifestations. Diana Doucet describes what follows the initial phase of each gathering (a time of praise, testimony, and preaching), a period of renewal which normally lasts from two to four hours, as follows:

The meetings are wildly Pentecostal in style—not the type of worship services that normally attract dignified theologians or

* John D. Hannah is Professor of Historical Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

staid denominational leaders. On a typical evening, dozens of people can be found lying or rolling on the floor, many of them laughing uncontrollably.3

Corelli speaks of a “vast carpeted floor [which] becomes littered with bodies giggling, crying, writhing, quivering, or seemingly asleep.”4 Pinnock suggests a scene in which “people fall into trances all over the floor. Some laugh uproariously, others shake and jerk, some roar like lions.”5 Ostling paints an emotionally heightened image of the meetings with this description.

Soon a woman begins laughing. Others gradually join with hearty belly laughs. A young worshipper falls to the floor, hands twitching. Another falls, then another and another. Within half an hour there are bodies everywhere as supplicants sob, shake, roar like lions, and, strangest of all, laugh uncontrollably.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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