We are back home from our Great Awakening study tour. Yesterday we donned our N95 masks, and boarded our plane back home. Our flight was uneventful, which is how I like them.
This study tour was different from the others on which the GSB team has embarked. It was the first domestic tour we have taken, and that was necessitated by the pandemic. Also, it was the tour that was least demarcated by actual sites to be seen. Instead, we visited places where events took place, even if the buildings in which they took place were no longer there. This made our tour somewhat more cerebral and required more imagination, but it was no less interesting.
As a result, we spent more time in graveyards than on other tours. Graveyards are interesting places. No matter how one lives one’s life, that earthly life almost always ends in a 4 x 8 foot place in the ground somewhere. Seeing where those who have made a difference for the kingdom of God have been been put in the ground is like time travel. People we could never have met because they lived in a different time, we can now meet at the place in the ground where their bodies rest. The meeting not accommodated by time is afforded in space.
I think I also came away from this study tour with a much greater respect for revival. In the past, I have personally downplayed the importance of revival because I recognized it was something I could not control. As Jesus said, the Holy Spirit is like the wind, and no one can predict where it will blow. John 3:8. That is apparent from the timing of America’s other revivals. After the Great Awakening, America experienced its next great revival during the Second Great Awakening (1795-1835), followed by the the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1915), and the Jesus Movement (1970s).
Because I recognized revival could not be predicted or controlled, I thought it better to focus on those things I could control, such as being missional where I lived. But it is quite clear that once revival hit New England in the 1730s, reaching people with the gospel became considerably easier. I no longer see praying for revival as an excuse for not being missional but as a blessing we should seek for the advancement of the kingdom of God, while at the same time continuing to be missional where we live.
I also now have a special affinity for Cotton Mather, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. I’m ordering Edward’s Freedom of the Will to read and add to my library, and I may even finish Mather’s opus, Magnalia Christi Americana.
On the negative side, I don’t think I moved The Wife or Ann off their position that the American Revolution was a Biblically just war, but I’m still thinking that one through myself. I may have to concede though that Jeffrey Hunter did not play Captain Kirk in the pilot for the original Star Trek series.
Live long and prosper. GS