Thursday, July 17, 2014

The "Toronto Blessing" 20 years later

(Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on March 8, 2014)
Interesting article from Christianity Today in my inbox this morning. Time flies, and it has been 20 years since the revival broke out at the former Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. Now, the magazine has sent journalist Lorna Dueck back to Catch The Fire (Toronto) to see if there is lasting fruit.
br/>You may find the article here. Some things that jumped out at me, which may jump out at you too...

1. Dueck writes that at the time, she felt compelled to allow herself to participate in what was going on. It made such an impact on her that she divides her spiritual life into before and after the events there.

2. James Beverley, author of a 1995 book on the "Toronto Blessing", is now giving qualified support of its lasting effects:

Nearly 20 years later, Beverley strikes a more appreciative tone, emphasizing the positive and lasting impacts of the revival. "Whatever the weaknesses are, they are more than compensated for by thousands and thousands of people having had tremendous encounters with God, receiving inner healings, and being renewed.".

Fair enough. But why does he say this? Beverley continues (emphasis mine):)

"....The whole thing is an indication of how much people want to feel close to God and have a sense of his presence. This does not excuse or explain everything.... To know it in detail, you would have to inspect story after story, but there is no doubt that the vast majority of people have been helped, and there have been radical conversion experiences and radical renewal in many lives."

Sitting on the other end of the country, I'd probably agree that some people may have been blessed.

But, assuming that Beverley is still in the Toronto area, well I am heartened by his frankness, although I find it a little dismaying.

You see in order to have a conclusive opinion, he'd have to do in depth interviewing and research.

And that would require work, and stuff.

3. In recent years, Dueck notes, Catch The Fire Toronto has aligned itself with the Revival Alliance. I recall the group from their efforts to clean up the crash-and burn of the Lakeland Revival, but Dueck doesn't seem to.

We may recall that towards the end of Lakeland, Revival Alliance pastors came to Lakeland to "commission" Todd Bentley and bring him under their authority.

At first, Bentley tried to say that he was not under their authority, but eventually felt a need to apologize to the Revival Alliance for some reason. The video of his rhetorical acrobatics is still on YouTube, and is gone into in the linked post.

So the Revival Alliance has a pronounced interest in people being able to grab the spotlight through spectacular works.

Thus their interest in Catch the Fire Toronto, as the Dueck article explains:

When asked about unorthodox elements or exaggerated claims of spiritual power among members of the Revival Alliance, Clark responded, "Our unity is not based on doctrinal agreement. Our unity is based on the experienced presence of God and how it renewed us and our commitment to a gospel of the kingdom."