Brownsville Revival Revisited in 2009

I noticed in the news recently that over the Memorial Day weekend the Brownsville Revival leaders have reunited in Pensacola, FL. They’re celebrating what was supposedly one of the greatest and longest lasting Pentecostal revivals in history. It was called the Pensacola Outpouring and the leaders are reuniting to “remember, refresh and re-fire.”[1]

I think it’s interesting to look back from the perspective of history as well, because there’s not a lot to remember. John Kilpatrick, who was the pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God, said that “millions, millions, millions, millions, millions” would come to faith in Christ as a result of the revival.[2] Steven Hill. who was the evangelist that started the revival once prophesised that the Senate would be ablaze for God.[3]

All the while in the Brownsville Assembly of God, they had people aping the practices of pagan spirituality. One of the most bizarre manifestations I witnessed in that particular scene was in the sanctuary as I watched in horror as a woman in the choir began to jerk her head spasmodically from side to side. An hour went by, then another. All the while the shaking continued unabated as intermittently she bent spasmodically at the waist. A church member, noting the look of concern on my face, quickly attempted to assure me that this woman was merely under the influence of the “Holy Ghost.” When I asked if she was certain it was the Holy Ghost, she seemed incredulous. “What else could it be?” she snapped. “We’re in church, aren’t we?’ She went on to report that this woman had been shaking wildly in the sanctuary for more than a year and a half. What was once practiced only in the cults is now present in our churches.

What heightens the danger is that Christians do not expect a counterfeit in church. While virtually the same methods employed in cultic communes can now be experienced in Christian churches there is a difference. At the altars of Pensacola the practices were cloaked in Christian terminology and were attributed to the Holy Spirit. Pensacola practices such as jerking spasmodically, laughing uncontrollably, and falling backward into trancelike states were conspicuous by their absence in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. In fact, Peter warned them to be wary of such pagan practices. He said to be “clear minded and self controlled.” (1 Peter 4:7).

My concern for the woman who was shaking spasmodically and many others like her prompted me to plead with Pensacola pastor John Kilpatrick to consider the physical and spiritual consequences. He did acknowledge that the woman I identified in his church “shakes like she has palsy” but then defiantly paraded her across his platform as a trophy of the “Pensacola Outpouring.” He then shouted, “If you don’t want your head to start shaking…come here a minute, girl. Come down here a minute. Hurry up. Hurry up. If you [referring to me] don’t want your head to do like this, you better lay your mouth off her.”[4] Of course this is the same person that predicted that in 90 days I would be dead.[5] As I previously mentioned, Stephen Hill made all kinds of dogmatic declarations from the platform, he said that “congressmen are weeping under the power of God”[6], but never provided a shred of evidence to support his claim.

Well, I suppose as we look back fifteen years, this is at best an unrealized fantasy. The problem in all of this and the reason for bringing it up is that millions are looking on in amazement and dismissing Christianity as little more than a succession of hoaxes. They’re thinking: if Christians are willing to embrace current mythology, they must be just as prone to embracing mythology that’s 2000 years old. When Christian standards have more in the common with The National Enquirer than The New Testament, it’s time to examine ourselves all over again. When selling and sensationalism become more tantalizing than truth, the very foundation of our faith is compromised. Blaise Pascal was right when he wrote in his Pensees “Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established, that unless we love truth, we cannot know it.”

Again the revival has come and gone and now they’re celebrating it fifteen years later, but the truth of the matter is revival didn’t happen. In fact for revival to take place in the culture, for the Senate to truly be ablaze with the power of God, reformation has to take place in the church, so that revival can take place in the land. Unless we get back to basics we’re not going to see revival. Unless we find the book of the law like Josiah and adhere to its words, embrace the glory of the gospel of grace, become ambassadors for Christ and not secret agents, and understand the difference between genuine and counterfeit revival, we are resigned to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I’ve addressed this topic in depth in my book Counterfeit Revival to help people understand the genuine article and the counterfeit that passes as genuine as people look for God in all the wrong places. You can get this at our website of www.equip.org or by calling us at 1-888-700-0274.

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[1] Brownsville Revival Leaders, Students Reunite by Felicia Mann, May 21, 2009, Charisma Magazine News  (http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/22059-brownsville-revival-leaders-students-reunite?tmpl=component&print=1&layout=default&page), Accessed 5/27/09.

 

[2] John Kilpatrick, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears” . This was number five of 10 proclamations that Kilpatrick gave about what would happen at Brownsville.

[3] Stephen Hill, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears”

[4] John Kilpatrick, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears” 

[5] Ibid. It also should be noted that Kilpatrick did later publicly apologize for this.


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[6] Stephen Hill, Brownsville Assembly of God, April 6, 1997 Videotape entitled “God’s Ears”

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