Nolan Harkness on The Calling of the Revivalist (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an op-ed series examining the calling of revivalists. The first part of the series can be read here

I am one who strongly believes that the answers to many of life’s difficulties lie in our past. When you consider the huge amount of Old Testament verses quoted by New Testament teachers, it makes you realize that looking back is not such a bad strategy. As Jesus and all of the apostles intentionally quoted the “Word of God,” they were pointing to the fact that whatever problem they were dealing with at the time had existed before and that was the way that God had led others to deal with it.

As my eyes as a revivalist were opened by the Holy Spirit to the gradual backsliding of the church in America, I knew the answer to dealing with the church in their lukewarm God condition had to be found in history. It was at that time that I began studying many of the sermons of the 1800s.

Over time, I noticed how different those sermons were to the ones being preached today. I also noted that quite probably not one of those preachers would be allowed to preach in today’s mainline evangelical churches. Their messages would be considered too strong and too unloving.

As I began to seek the Lord fervently about this dilemma, He directed me to study the lost gift of “exhortative preaching.” Revivalists are known for such preaching and many of the sermons that God gives me fall into that category. What I found was that even the modern Biblical translation of the word “exhort” has been dumbed down. In fact, it has even been completely removed from several modern Bible translations. Shockingly, the meaning of the word has also been dumbed down in sequential generations of English dictionaries. I thought, “If Satan could have engineered such a complex plan over several generations what would be his reason? Could he have worked to alter a word’s meaning in the English language to make Bible preachers less effective?” I came to the absolute conclusion that he did, and God showed me the reason why.

The morally decayed anti-God climate that is growing in America started to rapidly accelerate immediately following World War II. A pediatrician named Dr. Benjamin Spock published a book on child rearing called The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Dr. Spock experimented in uncharted child psychology waters. His writings instructed a whole generation of new parents concerning how to raise their children.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nolan Harkness