Asbury Prof: 'Outpouring,' Not 'Revival,' Is Best Label for Recent Events

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Feb 27, 2023
Asbury Prof: 'Outpouring,' Not 'Revival,' Is Best Label for Recent Events

An Asbury Theological Seminary professor says the word "outpouring" and not "revival" may be the best label to describe the recent events at the school until church historians have more time to evaluate what took place. 

Stephen Seamands, professor of basic Christian doctrine at Asbury Seminary, says it typically takes years or decades to determine what label to use on a church event similar to what began at Asbury on Feb. 8 and continued more than 300 hours.  

"You want to see the long-term effect it has on people's lives, on the church, and ultimately, revival leads to a kind of a penetration phase, where people are evangelized, and … social evils are confronted," Seamands said during a question and answer session on Sunday at Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. 

Asbury itself is calling the events an "outpouring" on the school's website

Church historians, Seamands said, eventually may place the word "revival" on the 2023 event.

"The Second Great Awakening in the 1800s produced the abolition movement, which led to a civil war, but [also] social change," he said. "And so historians, in looking at all this, want to wait to kind of see. But what I'm seeing right now is the manifest presence of God there in a powerful way. ... I think it's better to just call it an outpouring right now. And that's what they are calling it – the Asbury Outpouring."

A 1970 revival at the school grabbed national headlines by spanning more than 140 hours. It was part of the so-called Jesus Movement of hippies that is the subject of the new movie Jesus Revolution

Seamands attended the 1970 revival.

"That was God's way, I think, of reaching out to my generation, the baby boomers," he said. "But this [2023] is about Gen Z. This is about millennials and Gen Z. They're the heart and soul of this, of what's going on. And I believe that Jesus is chasing after and giving Himself to a generation that has been through perhaps more tough stuff than any other generation in American history.

"I really believe that God wants to bring revival," he added. 

Meanwhile, Seamands said the writings of Jonathan Edwards have helped him to better understand revivals. Edwards was a pastor during the First Great Awakening in 1700s America. 

"[Edwards] says that God the Father has this desire to exalt and glorify His only begotten beloved Son – and there are certain times and occasions when He finds it necessary and desires to do that in an extraordinary, powerful kind of way," Seamands said. "And the Spirit is poured out as God seeks to lift up Jesus and exalt His son. And ultimately, revival is a fresh encounter with Jesus."

Christians who were not excited about their faith during Edwards' time suddenly became "captured by the divine excellency" of Christ, Seamands said. 

"It was like they were apprehended, and they caught a glimpse of Jesus," Seamands said. "They fell in love with Jesus. … In revival, people are captured by Christ in such a way that they'll follow Him. And as a result of that, the church is transformed. The church falls in love with Jesus again."


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Photo courtesy: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/northwoodsphoto

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.