He was a man who had experienced strange things. In his youth, he had seemed to hold the nation in the palms of his hands. He endured strains and underwent great changes of opinion and outlook, but his religious convictions remained firm to the end
As a young man in his twenties, Roberts, a former miner, ignited a chain of dramatic Evangelical conversions that swept 100,000 people into the chapels of the Principality. Before that time Wales wasn’t known for male voice choirs and teetotalism — it was the Welsh revival, they say, moved the goalposts.
Real life is strangely mixed — Swift satirised fair tulips sprung from dung. Among my favourite movies is Steve Martin’s Leap of Faith, which affectionately parodies an Elmer Gantry shyster revivalist. Jonas Nightingale pulls all the tricks in the book but finally a little girl is genuinely healed, rain really does come to the dustbowl, and the joke’s on us all, as well as him.
Cue a couple of posts from Maggi Dawn, here and here, about the breakdown of Todd Bentley’s marriage (details from Brother Maynard here). Earlier this summer a friend who’s a nearby Baptist minister was kindly critiquing the Lakeland revival on the basis of some UK follow-on stuff he’d attended. Amidst much extreme stuff (people being knocked over in a supercharged atmosphere some outsiders would associate with stage hypnotism rather than religion), I would lay serious money some people have actually been helped to genuinely good places they otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
If it’s a spiritual virtue to value the person more than the sins they commit, perhaps it’s also prioritising mercy before sacrifice to look to the human being amidst religious hype, to remember them personally and charitably in our prayers, and to recall that in the end we’re all in the same boat.