Yet, as fast as that rumor was going, another one was going faster: “The devil has deceived the church in Toronto and they are all doomed!”
As a young teenager, I remember being very confused about the revival and what was really happening. So much so, that in the end, I decided that the Toronto Blessing was a fluke happening of a bunch of crazy Canadians. This was I was able to focus on the important things in life – like getting that Jose Canseco or Nolan Ryan baseball card!
Little did I know that years later I would join the movement that sparked the Toronto revival! God is something else… that much is true. 😕
Enter the book “Catch The Fire: The Toronto Blessing” by Guy Chevreau.
I picked up this book a few years back out of a desire to learn more about what happened in Toronto in 1994. Even though I had studied the history of the Vineyard Movement and knew a little bit about the Toronto Blessing and the resulting fall out (the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship left the Vineyard in 1995), I still didn’t know what “happened.”
And in some ways, I will never really “know” what happened as I was not there.
Yes, there were the human elements to the revival (especially towards the end), but over all it was a movement of the Spirit – similar to the Great Awakening of the 1700’s.
In fact, this connection is one Guy Chevreau makes over and over again in the book. So much so that a good third to a half of the book is devoted to exploring the writings of Jonathan Edward as he describes the outpour of the Spirit upon the American Northeast.
It is kind of funny that one of America’s most famous theologians was a full blown “holy roller” that saw hundreds of people falling to the ground, laughing uncontrollable, and otherwise doing strange things under the influence of the Holy Spirit. 🙂
The other main part of the book “Catch the Fire” is devoted to testimonies written by folks who attended the Toronto Blessing.
However, unlike the crazy stories I heard as a child, these testimonies do not focus on the physical manifestations of the Spirit – instead, they focus on the internal change brought about as the result of contact with the Living God. In this manner, Chevreau is following in the footsteps of Edwards who defended the Great Awakening by looking at the changed lives of the congregation.
As I wrap up this post, I want to take a look at one of the most conservational elements of the Toronto Blessing: the ‘animal’ sounds made by some of the people.
At first it may sound really strange and un-Godly to have folks making animal noises like chickens or dogs or lions. But if you dig a little deeper, there seems to be a reason and a purpose behind a lot of the sounds.
For example, I recently heard a story about a man who stood up during a meeting (unrelated to the Toronto Blessing or the Vineyard) and crowed like a rooster three times before sitting back down. Needless to say, this took everyone by surprise!
Yet, while they were sitting there staring at the man who crowed, another gentleman came running down the aisle and fell on his face before the altar. It turns out that this guy had made a pact with God in his heart that he would give his life to Jesus only if he heard a rooster crow three times!
It is in this vain that I leave you with a quote from Alan Wisman’s testimony as recorded by Chevreau:
I had, over the course of the last two years, been learning about Christ’s strength in me. He had given me the courage to do things for Him that I had formerly been too weak to accomplish. That strength has been greatly increased, and God has prophetically manifested it in me by making me roar like a lion. As I was prayed for and began to roar the first time, I felt an incredible rush of lion-like strength which was a very pleasurable feeling. I seemed to be feeling the invincibility of Christ…..It quickens my love for love for God, and my love for others. It intensifies my desire to minister, and my satisfaction in doing so.