Recently, I received in the mail an anticipated new book on revival, Global Awakening: How 20th-Century Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution, written by Mark Shaw, who is the director of the world Christianity program at Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya. His book is given endorsements by Christian History heavyweights Mark Noll, Brian Stanley, and Andrew Walls. I’ll post again on this book later, but for now, I want to introduce you to his rubric for evaluating global revival.
The thesis of his book is that global revivals are at the heart of the global resurgence of Christianity (12). He defines a global revival as “charismatic people movements that seek to transform their world by translating Christian truth and transferring power” (28).
Global revivals are charismatic people movements that seek to transform their world by translating Christian truth and transferring power.
Shaw comes to this definition by combining the five kinds of dynamics he has found that drive charismatic people movements:
- Spiritual Dynamics
- Cultural Dynamics
- Historical Dynamics
- Global Dynamics
- Group Dynamics
Each of these dynamics deserves attention, and Shaw provides excellent summaries of what he means by each. I find this rubric helpful. It moves beyond reductionisms that see revival as ONLY spiritual or ONLY sociological. Kudos! Still, the only comment I’ll make for now is that I would add a 6th kind of dynamic – Theological Dynamics. While this overlaps with Spiritual Dynamics, I believe it should be treated separately because different theological systems will affect revival differently. Shaw’s factors of spiritual dynamics are more general spiritual truths that may be true across differing theological systems. So recognizing the particular theological dynamics would be important, I believe. Nonetheless, Shaw’s dynamic approach stands out among other works studying revivals and awakenings. I’ll come back to him more in later posts!