Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Toronto Blessing: some further thoughts

After my posting on Tuesday about my experiences similar to the Toronto Blessing, I read in more detail Adrian Warnock's account of the original blessing, which is especially interesting because Adrian is a qualified psychiatrist as well as a charismatic Christian. His medical training is clearly reflected in his account.

Adrian noted the prominent involvement in the original blessing of Sandy Millar and Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton. This may well explain both the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the Alpha course, which Nicky Gumbel pioneered and still leads, and its extraordinary effectiveness worldwide - including in a small but significant way in my own church. In 1994 Adrian commented that during the Toronto Blessing
There have not been large number of conversions, and most people are not calling this a revival.
But if this Blessing is counted as even partially a basis on which the Alpha course was built, it must now be understood as having led to a large number of people turning to Christ through that course. It was not perhaps a "traditional" revival, but its results must be seen as comparable to large scale revival.

Adrian considered whether the Toronto Blessing ought to be considered a genuine work of God. He put forward the following test for this which he took from Jonathan Edwards - presumably the 18th century preacher and not the athlete of the same name who is also a prominent Christian:
It was in the study of 1 John 4 that he found his signs to indicate the genuiness of a work of God: An increase in esteem for Jesus as the Son of God, a greater following of God’s ways, an increased hunger for and understanding of God’s word (thus listening to the Apostles), and an increased love for God and man.

It is by the fruit of this movement that we will know its genuineness. (Mt 7:15-20). The result of all this ought to be a greater desire for holiness and to see souls saved.
On this basis both the original Toronto Blessing and the similar manifestations which I experienced should be accepted as at least to a large extent genuine. I would recommend to anyone that they take any opportunity to experience this for themselves, but also that they follow Adrian's advice:
attend with a desire to experience God for yourself if all this is genuine. Do not seek phenomena, seek God.

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