About Me

My photo
My real name is Charlie Albright. I am the pinnacle of evil who God has flooded with His mercy. Declaring my sinful self righteous and holy in His sight! Lavishing His grace upon me by the blood Jesus shed on the cross! Carrying me through this life and giving me satiatfing joy! Anything good about me is only because of His grace!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Revivals, Shakers, and the Dangers of Spiritualism

My parents recently went to a settlement that use to be the community of a people called the Shakers (or by their official title: The United Society of Believers In Christ's Second Appearance). The Shakers had started a settlement outside Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The Shakers have been disbanded for many, many years now.

What made my parents curious about these people was a particular belief that my parents had heard about. The Shakers believed that all persons that are part of their community should remain celibate. (One of the main reasons that they died out).

After my parents took a tour of the settlement they bought a little booklet that gave the general history of this group of people. And one does not have to read to long in the book to find out that this group was just a cult that grew up around the beginnings of the 1800s. There leader, Ann Lee, believed that she was the second coming of Christ. God was both male and female, the female side had to show up since the male side did in Jesus. And Thus, there she was! (rolling of eyes)

There was one comment about this group's beginnings that really caught my eye. Ann and her followers came to America and sought out converts. And where did they go to get this converts?
In 1780 she extended her sphere of influence to New Lebanon, N.Y., where a
revival was happened to be going on at the same time and where converts were
secured without much difficulty, local sentiment being more or less propitious
for the introduction of the new religion. (Daniel Mac-Hir Hutton, Old
Shakertown and the Shakers. Harrodsburg Herald Press; Harrodsburg, KY. p.9)

So basically, she set her tent up beside the Christian tent at a revival and got just as well as turn out as the Christians did.

Now here is the thing, when most Christians look at revivals and see the great scores of people coming down the aisle to the alter they immediately attribute it to a "great moving of the Spirit." But here was a revival taking place, a great move of the Spirit, and then a cult leader comes along proclaiming that she is the second coming of Jesus and they get just as good as turn out!

What was happening here? Was it indeed a true revival? No! Does God work for the growth of false teachings as He does his own Church? No. Then what was going on?

This is a prime example of the spiritual excitement that accompanied revivals of that time. People would get worked up and emotionally pulled down the aisle so that they would make a outward profession that they were going to follow Christ. Yet, just because they made an outward profession did not mean they there was a spiritual change. What all this, sadly, boiled down to was people getting hyped-up and getting spiritual and "on the good path." There was no actual building up in the doctrines of Christ.
And from my understandings the focus of the revivals was on holiness and becoming right in character. There was proclaimation of Christ but it mainly consited of proclaiming condemnation on all the evils of the land. The revival leaders would get people worked up agaisnn the evils in themselves and the evils of the land. They would then call them to repent and seek holiness. And so people many would follow suit.

This is the reason why Ann's cult had such a good turn out at the spiritual "revival." They just showed up and said to the masses, "Hey! if you want to be really, really spiritual why don't you come and join our little community? Because seeking holiness is what we are going to be doing!" And thus it was said about the people, "converts were secured without much difficulty." Think about that phrase for a moment longer...let the fact that the "female incarnation of the Christ" was able to do this!

What does all this mean for us? One of the big truths that we can glean from this is, Beware of Christian spiritualism that is detached from Christian doctrine. He were people getting excited for the right practices and reasons (holiness), but they were easily seduced by heretical teachings that had the same practices they were seeking. The Shakers were very big on being "holy" but there god was not the true god. If one does not make the teachings of Christ and His Apostles about the nature and character of God a priority in their preaching then other groups are going to come and present a style, movement, focus, or practices that is going to be just as, or even better than, what the church is marketing. The only thing that keeps us distinct as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is Christ! Unless we are grounded on Him any movement can roll-up next to us and present it better than we can and secure coverts "without much difficulty"
So ever practice, and call to right living, must be grounded upon the doctrine of who Christ is. Christ must permeate our teaching. He must be the focal point and the essence of what we proclaim. Anything else, no matter how right it sounds, or successful it appears, will never be for the increase of God's kingdom here on earth and His glory throughout the heavens