From Sesame Street to Azusa Street
By Mario Murillo
If the modern celebrity preachers of today were the captain of the Titanic they would have told the passengers, “We didn’t hit an iceberg, we stopped to get ice.” It takes skill to stand on a sinking ship and convince people it is a pleasure cruise. Some of these deceitful voices claim to be spirit-filled.
I want to drag you from Sesame Street back to Azusa Street. Playtime and nap time are over. I am going to use this blog to rebuke extremes in the Spirit-filled movement. My special wrath is reserved for the Spirit-filled community. Pentecostal, Charismatic, Spirit-filled, call it what you will. I am directing this to all who trace their roots to the Azusa Street Revival but run their church and take their orders from spiritual gurus who oppose the Holy Spirit.
If you are spirit-filled and you nurse hidden sympathies that there is same sex marriage, limited inspiration of the scripture and no hell, I have news for you. You are not an enlightened renaissance man. You are the plain, garden-variety hypocrite. It’s time to be honest. Renounce your roots or return to them. Quit the charade.
I am being blunt because you are helping keep a false narrative alive and at the same time you are hindering true revival by opposing it. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Why are you emulating these false voices who preach that, “Everything is peachy because God is so into you, so enjoy the happy times?”
But what happy times are they talking about? If you are among those who want Christianity removed from America, then the last 7 years have indeed been amazing. An impressive string of uninterrupted legal victories for atheists and radical Muslims in the United States has dechristianized marriage, prayer, free speech and all of culture in general. Korans are in where Bibles are out. Christian prayer is out in virtually every sporting and civic event.
For the first time, major companies fire leaders simply for being Christian. Mozilla fired one of their founders, the Golden State Warriors fired a winning coach, and the city of Atlanta fired its fire chief. Professors routinely threaten and even flunk students for Christian values. And now the gay lobby is striving to make it illegal to believe that homosexual behavior is sin.
Never in the history of America has church attendance fallen so fast and persecution against believers risen so high. Never have more pastors been giddier over non-results. I am sorry to say this but you are in denial if you look at your packed out church and spike the ball while America and the world drown in a sea of Islamic terrorism, atheism, drug addiction, hunger and debauchery.
Yes, some churches are packed out; but like the Titanic, the crowded rooms are a misleading picture. The boat tilted and people slid into certain ballrooms. What you don’t see is the floating debris and the masses that fell into the icy sea. The facts do not lie; mega churches have not had any meaningful effect on America’s steep decline.
We have so many wrong ideas about millennials and we have so much ignorance about Azusa Street!
We hear preachers say “millennials” are too skeptical and cannot handle Bible doctrine. That is so wrong. Did you know that Darwin and Karl Marx were more popular at the time of the Azusa Street Revival than he is today? In fact, fundamentalism was organized at that time to stem the tide of atheism, Marxism, and a worldwide rejection of the Bible.
God’s remedy for the dark, disbelieving early 20th Century was to pour out His Spirit. And that is the answer for today!
Millennials want to deal with racism and social injustice and Pentecostalism is too conservative. False again! Azusa Street started the conversation on race long before Eric Holder’s pathetic attempts. Masses of white believers came to the mission and repented over their racial prejudice.
Another false notion: True Pentecostalism is too legalistic for today. The accusation of legalism at Azusa Street is a canard! The good people of the mission may not have danced or worn make up but it had way more to do with a glorious distraction than guilt. They simply lost interest in vanity and distractions. By no means did the Holy Ghost make them judgmental. That came from the next generation who kept the forms but did not experience the fire.
Organic Pentecostalism had great impact on the culture by sweeping millions into a Christian faith that had power, proclaimed victory over habits and trusted the goodness of God to meet every need. To say that this would not work today is to show ignorance of both millennials and history.
Here is the most painful question: Have you looked in the mirror and asked yourself how much suffering you are allowing in recovering drug addicts and those fighting sexual sin by not telling them about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
If you repent and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit right now you will indeed lose people, but you will gain an army. You will lead a congregation rooted in power. You will not live in the tyranny of the latest church growth gimmick.
What America needs right now is lions in the pulpit, men and women of conviction, full of the Holy Ghost who will, no matter what, obey and declare the full counsel of God.