This is the full version of the letter that was sent to the Pensacola News Journal by Bill Lollar. On 8-17-95 the Pensacola News Journal ran a 200-word cut down version of this letter and titled it "Not a true revival" (that was the Pensacola News Journal's title) not Bill Lollar's.

Is This Genuine Revival?

Brownsville Assembly of God ran a sizable display ad in the Pensacola News-Journal in July of 1995 announcing what they believed was a sovereign move of God's Spirit to bring revival to Pensacola. On July 24th the paper did a front page story entitled, "Church experiences divine 'refreshing,'" which highlighted this meeting.

As a pastor, I have also personally prayed (as many others have surely done) that God would visit us again as He did in the Great Awakening under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and other godly men. I want the real thing--the type of spiritual awakening spoken of in the Brownsville church ad--and it did not bother me in the least that God might begin such a work in another denomination. So...with an open mind and prayer for discernment, I attended the service at Brownsville on a Wednesday evening several weeks ago.

I do not believe that Pensacola is experiencing a true revival of God...maybe a revival of Pentecostalism, based upon emotion and experience, but not a genuine movement of God's Spirit. The awakenings of the past have always been based upon the plain preaching of the Word of God, which produced great conviction of sin in the lives of those who sat under such preaching. Although emotional excesses (loud crying, laughter, moaning, etc.) may have abounded in the personal experiences of many during these revivals of the past, it was because sinners were fearful of the wrath of a holy God and seeking salvation from hell. The focus was not upon one's experience or even on the Holy Spirit, whom some have referred to as the "shy person of the Trinity." His purpose is not to draw attention to Himself, but to Christ and the work accomplished on the cross in behalf of sinners. The name of Jesus Christ was hardly mentioned the evening I attended Brownsville Assembly, which is very curious to me since "there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved."

The Brownsville meeting seemed clearly obsessed with the Charismatic "phenomenon" referred to as being "slain in the spirit." Everything in the service that night was preparatory to and subservient to this unusual ritual, which one would have a difficult time defining and supporting from the Bible. The evangelist even mocked his would-be critics, saying that he would spend a few minutes looking at "Three Rules for Daily Living" found in Paul's letters to Timothy, so that no one could accuse him of not basing his message on the Bible. He thought it was funny...I was saddened at such a de-emphasis of God's Truth.

I also noticed that there was a lot of "coaching" going on prior to the invitation. Visitors were told that they needed to have an open mind...that they might not receive anything from the Lord on the first night...that they needed to wait patiently on the Lord even if it meant staying until three in the morning...that they should react without thinking about it (the evangelist called this "immediate obedience to the Holy Spirit" and gave an object lesson to demonstrate what he meant), and that not everyone would necessarily fall down as a sign of God's work in their life. Add to this mixture an upbeat, loud and hard-driving rock tempo with repetitious words which went on and on, plus the factor of physical and mental exhaustion which sets in after four or five hours (much less night after night), plus the pent-up expectation of witnessing or participation in the "miraculous"--it's a recipe for deception and misrepresentation.

I would challenge the pastor and/or evangelist to put the rock band and the excellent vocalists on hold for the next week or two, as well as eliminate the "slain in the spirit" stuff. My guess is that the crowds will dwindle and the meeting will be closed due to the missing "entertainment factor" which right now is drawing curiosity-seekers better than a Garth Brooks concert. I will continue to pray that God might send revival to our city and nation. We need to start preaching the Word of God with boldness and, in His sovereign timing, God will send true revival. It will be unmistakably focused on Christ and His atoning work, rather than the sensationalistic experiences.


Bill Lollar, Pastor
Grace Heritage Baptist Church
Pensacola, FL