Jump to content


Photo

Question for those who read "No Compromise"


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

    White Knight

  • Member
  • 1,732 posts

Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:43 AM

Hello all...

The late Keith Green was a major influence in Christian Contemporary and Modern Worship music in the late 70s and early 80s, before he had been killed in an airplane crash, well before his time. Not only that, he was an innovator, a writer, one who really got behind the mission field, and started his own community dedicated to spreading the Gospel.

In the early 90s, his wife, Melody, wrote the seminal biography of Keith Green called "No Compromise." I read this book when it first came out, some twenty years ago. Much of the book is a series of anecdotes of his life on the road, performing ministry and concerts.

There was one episode that bothered me. Over a period of subsequent nights, Keith had been invited to perform a series of concerts at Oral Roberts University. He wanted to wait for the Lord to lead him, to do whatever God wanted for those evenings. The first two nights, there was hardly much response. But the third night... whoa... something clicked, and suddenly there was a rush of alter calls that were flooding the stage. One student went up and confessed to a major sin in his life. Another followed. Tears flowed. There was a sense of holy anarchy in the aisles. The presence of God was over abundant. And then....

And then the school administrators took the stage, announced that, out of proprietry, they will set up counselors behind the stage, and create some orderly way for students to release their burdens.

And, just like that, the presence of God had vanished. Keith Green fumbled to the piano and ended the evening with a couple of singalongs, and that was it.

This sequence, as Melody had written it, had always bothered me. This is because I think there were two sides to this story, and we were being denied the perspective of the school administrators. I thought that this story was pertinent and deep enough that it could warrant a book by itself--touching upon the nature of revivals, contrasting deep held public repentance with those electric atmospheres where emotions run very high. Was there a second side to this event that we were not made privy to?

In fact, when I had written a review of "No Compromise" on Amazon.com, some ten years ago, I mentioned this anecdote prominently in my review, saying that this single event ought to be probed and looked thoroughly at much deeper, so that we could learn from it, and have this be a catalyst for a revival that would bear that much more fruit.

Here's where it gets current: just last week, one of the students who helped promote that ORU series of Keith Green concerts had read my Amazon review, and contacted me personally. He and his student-friends occassionally meet with each other, and talk about that event. He even discussed this at length with the school administrator who made that announcement.

He invited me to write questions for the whole bunch of them, to probe away. He wants me to be as specific as I can be, so to get this all out in the open, and get a full study of this event available. I don't know what else may come of this--will this be an article somewhere, or on a blog? I don't know. All I know is that I'm hungry for a full study of an "almost-revival," for better or for worse.

So this is my long-winded way of saying... if anybody has any questions regarding this anecdote from the Keith Green biography "No Compromise", and were wondering if there were any way to get answers to some of these questions, now is the time. Please post here, or p.m. me, and I will see if I can cobble together the best questions so to approach the subject of revivals, public confessions, and order.

#2 MattPage

MattPage

    Bible Films Geek.

  • Member
  • 4,187 posts

Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:45 PM

I haven't read the book, but I'd be interested to know if they felt, looking back, that the Admins had perhaps acted the way they did because they were concerned people were being manipulated. I'm not saying people were being manipulated, but i can imagine someone thinking they were and feeling they should do something in response.

Matt

#3 Rich Kennedy

Rich Kennedy

    Striking a balance between the cerebral and six month old puppy

  • Moderator
  • 2,543 posts

Posted 03 April 2010 - 12:15 AM

I haven't read the book. I'm puzzled by this though. I can see more conventional evangelical colleges back then trying to get control of something like this, but ORU? During Oral Roberts' lifetime and still vital ministry? Didn't he practically invent charismatic pentacostalism? So, my questions center on the following line of thought:

  • Was Roberts uncomfortable with spontaneous outpourings of the Holy Spirit (but this was more about revival, renewal, and confession!?) not initiated by him or surrogates?
  • How different was this from "spiritual life week" type programs if any at ORU (I can't imagine a christian school with nakedly religious overtones to its activities and mission not having such programs as part of student life, but who knows...)?
  • Who was behind the redirecting of this to private outposts?
  • What was the nature, if any, of the confessions?
  • How "controlling" was the school over student life and student spiritual enrichment as a contrast to what might have been nascent in what Green seemed to be fomenting?

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 03 April 2010 - 12:20 AM.


#4 CherylR

CherylR

    Member

  • Member
  • 158 posts

Posted 03 April 2010 - 08:30 AM

I read the book when it first came out and distinctly remember reading this section and wondering what motivated the school to step in when they did. At the time, my thought was, it was something so out of their experience they didn't know how to handle it, other than effectively stopping it by reverting to what they did know--counselors and control. If I remember right, some of the confessions would've been of the nature that the school might not have wanted to be revealed to the world at large.

Rich's questions pretty much cover what I would want to ask. :)

It will be interesting to read the responses.

Edited by CherylR, 03 April 2010 - 08:32 AM.


#5 Greg P

Greg P

    Episcopi Vagantes

  • Member
  • 1,732 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:29 AM

In the summer of 1993, I spent an evening discussing revival -- and this incident in particular-- with one Winkey Pratney at Church on the Way in Van Nuys, where I was attending a street evangelism conference. He talked late into the night with me and we were the last to leave the building. In fact they began turning the sanctuary lights off as we spoke. He was a very gracious dude and actually invited me to dinner that night.

Of course Pratney was Keith's pastor and was also present with him at ORU during this run of meetings. He likened the series of meetings to pushing a large cart up a hill, with the final night having a sense that they had reached the crest and the cart was about to rush downhill with incredible ferocity. His feelings pretty much echoed Melody's in the book as far as there being a sense in the room that God was very present, followed by a feeling like someone "pulled the plug" after ORU leaders stopped the public confessions.

One thing that's important to understand: the Pentecostal tradition of "revival" is very different than what Keith was bringing to ORU... and that made the leadership feel uncomfortable. Pentecostal "revivals" typically featured a reemergence of the spiritual gifts, signs and wonders, etc... Keith had been reading Finney, and other revivalists like Evan Roberts. The chief characteristic of those movements was deep conviction of sin, weeping, public confession, fear and trembling, etc... In that tradition, brokenness and public confession of sin was essential to the moving of God's Spirit.

We discussed this at the time, because the conference I was attending featured Charismatic/Pentecostal speakers, exclusively. Winkey was the only featured speaker there who didn't match that label. He spoke twice as i recall and while I hung on every word, you could tell this audience wanted something more "TBN". The night before Winkey's session, a young evangelist spoke and had an altar call where people were "getting slain in the spirit" after he pointed his finger like a gun. The attendees ate that stuff up. Winkey got up in his street clothes and spoke in a very conversational manner about the nature of God, about ministering to the hurting, etc... People were noticeably dozing off at both his sessions. This highlighted the chasm between the Neo-Pentecostals/Charismatics and Winkey's nameless crew who studied historic Protestant revivals -- in much the same way as Keith's meetings at ORU.

To this day, those differences in defining true "revival" remain. The Charismatic/Third Wave/Pentecostal "revivals" center around phenomena. The Finney model of "revival" is all about breaking up the fallow ground, through the ugly business of repentance and public confession. Let's face it, Keith Green's meetings at ORU were potentially very bad PR for the school. Kids were confessing to drug use, sexual promiscuity and (gasp!) homosexuality! In 2010 A&F-- a typically laid back venue-- flares up over a discussion of homosexuality; can you imagine what such confessions or discussions were like in 1979 at a squeaky clean school founded by a televangelist?

One last note: I remember Winkey talking about that final night at ORU and saying he was "afraid to breathe wrong". He had experienced similar movements on a smaller scale in his early days of ministry. His position as I recall-- like Finney-- was that in those early stages of brokenness that open up the floodgates to God's Spirit, you have to be very careful how you censure the proceedings. Excesses are unavoidable, but he felt that early attempts to rein in excesses often led to a "quenching" of the spirit for whatever reason.

Edited by Greg P, 23 April 2010 - 09:10 AM.


#6 M. Leary

M. Leary

    Member

  • Member
  • 5,342 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for sharing this, Greg. I love all this insightful oral history recorded at A&F.

#7 Greg P

Greg P

    Episcopi Vagantes

  • Member
  • 1,732 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 09:21 AM

Thanks for sharing this, Greg. I love all this insightful oral history recorded at A&F.

Thanks. I have virtually nothing to show for all the years of service in that sphere, so it's nice every now and then to pull out something from the vault.

Incidentally, I saw this thread for the first time this morning. We moved to a new house three weeks ago and in the unpacking, which we just finished this week(!)I found a photo of Winkie and I from this event. Weird. I hadn't seen it in probably 15 years.

#8 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,235 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 06:01 PM

Thanks for sharing this, Greg.

Yes. Very fascinating.

#9 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 28,879 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:48 PM

I'm mildly envious that you met Pratney, Greg. One of the first books I ever read on pop culture from a Christian perspective was Pratney's Star Trek, Star Wars and the 21st Century Christians. (Somebody cue Conan O'Brien's "In the Year 2000..."!) I wasn't aware that he had a Keith Green connection.

#10 CherylR

CherylR

    Member

  • Member
  • 158 posts

Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:51 PM

Thanks for sharing. Intriguing stuff.

#11 Rich Kennedy

Rich Kennedy

    Striking a balance between the cerebral and six month old puppy

  • Moderator
  • 2,543 posts

Posted 10 February 2011 - 06:47 AM

How did I miss this? Sheesh.

One last note: I remember Winkey talking about that final night at ORU and saying he was "afraid to breathe wrong". He had experienced similar movements on a smaller scale in his early days of ministry. His position as I recall-- like Finney-- was that in those early stages of brokenness that open up the floodgates to God's Spirit, you have to be very careful how you censure the proceedings. Excesses are unavoidable, but he felt that early attempts to rein in excesses often led to a "quenching" of the spirit for whatever reason.


I wonder, how does one define excess? What do you look for before looking for a shut off?

We went through a bit of an Anglican "revival" last November. Being the follow up chair, I've struggled with harnessing the aftermath. Our revival was something close to Finney-esque. Of course, this was a scandal to anglo-catholics not in attendance.

#12 Greg P

Greg P

    Episcopi Vagantes

  • Member
  • 1,732 posts

Posted 10 February 2011 - 10:01 AM

I wonder, how does one define excess? What do you look for before looking for a shut off?

We went through a bit of an Anglican "revival" last November. Being the follow up chair, I've struggled with harnessing the aftermath. Our revival was something close to Finney-esque. Of course, this was a scandal to anglo-catholics not in attendance.



I'm interested to hear about your experiences, Rich!

I still have an old Banner of Truth book on spiritual awakening by Joseph Tracy, that traces the origins of the 18th century revival under Edwards. That awakening is generally pointed to as the last "genuine" widespread revival in American history-- it was led by some very intelligent men with exceptional moral and theological facilities, as opposed to some of the more fanatical movements that were born out of the Welsh revival and Pentecostalism in the early 20th century.

But even under the Great Awakening, by my reading, there were "excesses". Even Jonathan Edwards, an extremely tempered man not prone to excitement, experienced some heightened religious ecstasies that by 21st century traditional Protestant standards might be considered "excessive". Prolonged prostration, outbursts of weeping and periods of-- what might be considered today-- semi-depressive preoccupation with ones sins, were all par for the course in that awakening. (Reading the 18th century journal of Edwards' almost-son-in-law, David Brainerd, it's hard NOT to view the guy as chronically depressed)

On the periphery of this were incidents (mostly within Methodism among less educated circuit preachers like Lorenzo Dow, Peter Cartwright, etc...) of large numbers of people falling down under the preaching of the word, crying out or being afflicted with what was referred to at the time as "the jerks". These phenomena allegedly crossed all social and theological lines and became epidemic in various locations. Were these phenomena human, divine or evil in origin and should they have been stopped? I have no clue. My suspicion based on limited experience and reading, is that these manifestations are entirely human in origin, but I don't think it's good to be overly critical or censorious when they occur.

In widespread awakenings many things are stirred up and caused to rise to the surface simultaneously-- things human, divine and evil. To try to reign in manifestations or outward displays of affection in those early stages-- like separating the wheat from the chaff-- seems to be very counterproductive.

#13 Rich Kennedy

Rich Kennedy

    Striking a balance between the cerebral and six month old puppy

  • Moderator
  • 2,543 posts

Posted 10 February 2011 - 05:20 PM

I'll send you thoughts on our Faith Alive weekend privately.

Hmmm, David Brainerd was a hero of mine in childhood. Mom read stories of Judson and him to us rather early. Actually, what you describe seems to me to be a quite reasonable set of behaviors under the direction of the Spirit. It is somewhat similar to my own experience with early contact with Anglican liturgy in the early '70's and when I started worshipping more recently as an Anglican. Some of that has sort of rubbed away now that I am reasonably navigable in the Prayer Book. You know, accustomed, familiar. Sadly, it doesn't take long eh?

Anyway, I believe that if you start something that invites the Holy Spirit to do His work, it is important to let it ride and deal with the consequences. How do I tell God to stop? How do I tell Him to stop? It's His universe. It is His power and His operation! I am saddened by your gloss on the ORU opportunity. This is always what I admired about Green. He encouraged no holds barred engagement with God and His calling. No one preaches that anymore. There is a difference between preaching seriously open engagement with God and opnenness to the Holy Spirit's prompt and forcing a definitive description of what should result and what your life and behavior should look like (which is how I enterpret the work of Green's mentors and acolytes). That god is too small. God's work is more like Backgammon than Chess when we can observe it. As is His leading in human hearts.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 10 February 2011 - 05:23 PM.