When God Breaks In: Revival can happen
Hodder & Stoughton £13.99
Church Times Bookshop £12.60
OVER the years I have read most of the books that Michael Green
has written, and have never regretted buying any of them, I
certainly wasn't disappointed by this one: it is a deceptively slim
and excellent book. Its subtitle is Revival can happen
again, and even if you didn't believe this when you started
the book, you are likely to think differently by the time you
From the start, Green doesn't try to play down the fact that
"worldwide secularisation is proceeding apace", but he is also
clear that, outside Western Europe, belief in God is growing, and
those who call themselves Christians have proved ready to stand
firm for their beliefs in the face of opposition and
Green is convinced that one of the means that God uses to
encourage his people when times are bleak is to get them to read of
those moments in history "when He broke through in a remarkable way
and transformed the situation".
So, in an astonishing tour de force, Green takes us on a journey
from Pentecost through the Reformation, the Awakening of the 18th
century under the Wesleys and Whitefield, the 19th-century social
crusades of Wilberforce and Shaftesbury, together with the
extraordinary life of Charles Simeon; then through the Charismatic
renewal; and finally the revivals in Mongolia, Singapore, and
China. Green's excitement and transparent faith in God are
infectious, and I found mine growing as I read the book.
Green is intellectually confident in his assessment of the New
Atheists, and detailed in assessing the impact of various people
and movements; he writes the most mature assessment of the Toronto
Blessing which I have come across, and is rightly generous in his
treatment of the Oxford Movement. His admiring analysis of the
revival in the Province of South East Asia in the second part of
the 20th century shows how effective episcopal leadership, such as
that displayed by Moses Tay, can release revival.
Green concludes by "outlining several preconditions on the human
side that seem to make these times of special growth and blessing".
They make salutary reading. I felt I should reflect on them
regularly as a kind of spiritual-fitness manual.
This is an excellent book, and should be read by everyone who
longs for revival, and perhaps particularly by those training for
ordination, as they prepare for ministry in a complex and rapidly
changing world, but one in which God remains faithful, and ready to
break in afresh.
The Revd Jeremy Crossley is the Rector of St Margaret
Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman Street, London.