PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
Question, reason, consult the Bible
Thousands say the Pensacola
Brownsville Revival has brought them closer to
But what if something causes them to question
the revival 's methodology, messages or leaders?
Does that cast doubt on their faith, their
closeness to God, their spiritual well-being?
Spiritual leaders have advice.
"All religious people must be
careful," said William Mountcastle, a
professor of religious studies at the University
of West Florida and a minister with the United
"If they have an experience, or get
caught up in an action or event being described
as of God, they must decide if it is coherent
with all the other things they believe about God.
If it isn 't, then it means something is
Mountcastle emphasized: "God gave us our
ability to reason, and we should use it."
He suggested turning to Paul 's first letter
to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:19) in the
New Testament: Nevertheless, in church I would
rather speak five words with my mind, in order to
instruct others also, than ten thousand words in
"Paul is emphasizing reasoning and
balancing faith," Mountcastle said.
"Extreme, uncontrolled emotionalism is not
healthy, and it is not what Christ wanted us to
Other Bible scholars also urge people to think
clearly and ask questions.
"Do not allow anything to dull your
critical thinking process do not be afraid to
question the behavior of your peers," said
Hank Hanegraaff, author of the award-winning
book, "Christianity in Crisis," and the
recent best-seller, "Counterfeit Revival:
Looking for God in All the Wrong Places."
"Leaders of the counterfeit revival use
peer pressure to conform their prospects to
predictable patterns. They urge them to follow
the crowd rather than consider the
The Rev. Tom Stipe, one of the founders of
Promise Keepers and author of the foreword in
Hanegraaff 's "Counterfeit Revival,"
said: "One of my earliest pastoral mentors
taught, 'When you 're not sure what God is
saying, go back to what God has already said. '
"The Bible! What a concept!"
Pastoral counselors say people who are
confused about the revival should not let their
questions sway their faith or lead them on
detours from God.
The Rev. Jack D. Forest of Gulf Breeze, a
retired minister with the United Church of Christ
who counsels people on interfaith questions and
concerns, said: "The best gift of God is
patient intelligence. You don 't have to have
every answer down now. As you live and wait upon
God 's truths, they will be revealed.
"Be open to the fullness of truth. Truth
comes when all of the data is at hand and
understood. God either reveals it, or we learn it
ourselves. God has given us the capacity to study
and to learn and discover truth. Many people are
afraid of that."
The Rev. L.V. Gibbs, pastor of Springhill
Missionary Baptist Church, said the best move for
anyone who is spiritually turned around is:
"Get to know the savior."
"Getting to know someone means you get to
know their nature," he said. "The more
you know about God and His nature, the better you
will know if something is of God."
Gibbs said the way to achieve spiritual
well-being is to be prayerful and get back to
"People today seem to really like
experience and prophecy," he said.
"Scripture indicates that miracles are for
nonbelievers not believers. Once we become
believers, we should trust God for the benefits
that belong to us. Do not look for a quick
The Rev. Terry Price Ware, pastor of Unity
Church of Christianity, said she occasionally
sees people who have had spiritual experiences in
which they don 't know if the experiences are
emotional or the working of the Holy Spirit.
"Usually, I let them talk it out,"
she said. "When they do this, they discover
whether it 's been a repressed dream or a
distraction from a tough choice they have to
"Many times people will say: 'Look. The
Holy Spirit is leading me in a whole new way. '
And then they will leave behind their
"Unity is a church about personal
responsibility that approaches such situations in
a practical way," Ware said. "We
believe that the Holy Spirit does not work in
ways that would influence people to be
irresponsible. That is the danger. Many people
use charismatic experiences to avoid taking
responsibility for their lives."
Ware 's advice is to grab hold of the reins of
"Once you do that, you can ask if the
experience is a quick fix or spiritual direction
for your life."
Ware also suggested reading a classic,
"Varieties of Religious Experiences" by
James Williams the father of modern day
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