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Uncoolman
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Date Posted:09/12/2007 9:56 AMCopy HTML

Jesus and the Revival Centres

by Troy Waller

 

In a 1995 edition of the Revival Centre publication, Voice of Revival, the Revival Centre position on Christ was explained thus,

‘The prophecies relating to God's Son, who was to be the promised Messiah, were fulfilled in every detail with the birth of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6,7.)  Jesus continued to identify himself as God's Son throughout his ministry, performing miracles of healing and provision as God had always done for his people' (Revival Centres International: 1995)

Whilst the above statement may seem to advocate a mainstream Christology, it is intentionally broad enough to incorporate different Christologies.  In the last forty years, the Revival Centre Christology has evolved from an orthodox view to a somewhat unique perspective.  Whilst once advocating the deity of Jesus, they now teach he is somewhat less than God.

 

Early Position

            The Revival Centres were originally part of the National Revival Crusade (now the Christian Revival Crusade) started by Leo Harris.  Aside from the British Israel teaching, Harris subscribed to the bulk of evangelical Protestant doctrines. (Cooper: 36)   In 1944, at the forming conference of the National Revival Crusade in New Zealand, the following article was unanimously voted upon by all eleven delegates under the heading, ‘Statement of Faith', ‘(h)  The pre-existence and perfect divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Cooper: 36).  When Harris returned to Australia to launch the Crusade amongst his then current denomination, the Churches of God, he advocated a new statement of faith for the group which included a new article, ‘the Divinity and Pre-Existence of Jesus' (Cooper: 39).  In 1945, whilst elaborating on Crusade beliefs, Harris wrote, ‘We believe also in the Divinity and pre-existence of the Son of God' (Cooper: 41).  The Crusade never published anything contrary to their original Christological view and still affirm it today (Cooper: 372). 

            When the Revival Centres broke away from the Crusade in 1958 they took an identical Christology to the Crusade.  The first official Revival Centre publication, under the heading ‘Articles of Faith', affirmed, ‘The Diety [sic] and pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ' (Revival Centres: 1959a).  Later editions of their magazine stated: the blood of Jesus was ‘Divine of God' (E.S.W.: 1959); ‘All other prophets pointed away from themselves to God, but Jesus said, "Come unto Me"'(Revival Centres: 1959b); ‘The Godhead is a Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost' (Durrant, J.H.: 1959). 

            Lloyd Longfield, as senior pastor of group and editor of the magazine, approved many articles teaching Christ's divinity and even penned some himself.   His early Christology seems to draw heavily on John 1:1, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'  Longfield seemed to believe that Jesus was somehow identical to God's spoken and written word,

‘Jesus Christ was the Word made flesh; he expressed the will of God to all humanity...  In saying that the most important thing in this world is the Word in no way sets Christ in a secondary position, for he and the Word are one' (Longfield, L: 1961a).

Longfield does not give any indication that he comprehended the first century Jewish or Hellenistic understanding of the term ‘Word' (logos).  He does however, continue to assert Christ's divinity,

‘In short, everything started with the Word of God, and God was the Word.  We might say that God is as good as his word and the Word is as good as God.  They are identical, inseparable and immutable...  God made everything and God is also the Word' (Longfield, L: 1961b).

 

A New Position

            It appears that at some point prior to 1974 Longfield began to re-evaluate his Christology.  In November, 1973 the original statement of faith, ‘Articles of Faith' appeared for the last time in a Revival Centre Publication (Revival Centres: 1973).  In the following year a significant change took place with the publishing of the new statement of belief entitled, ‘What We Believe' (Revival Centres: 1974).  The former statement affirming, ‘The Diety [sic] and pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ' was replaced with ‘We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God'.   It cannot be asserted that either Longfield or the Revival Centres began to publicly deny the deity of Christ at this point, as articles and statements clearly teaching or affirming the deity of Christ can be found sporadically throughout Revival Centre publications until as late as 1978.  What can be asserted is that the wording of the new statement opened the way for differing views on the nature of Christ including Longfield's evolving view. 

            In 1991, a Revival Centre pastor from New Zealand, Fred Needham, issued an open letter to all pastors of the Revival Centres noting what he saw as inconsistencies in Revival Centre doctrines.  It was here that the first public mention of Lloyd Longfiled's evolved Christology was made.

‘Lloyd does not believe that Jesus pre-existed prior to His incarnation in the virgin Mary.  He believes John 1:1-2 tells us that "words" existed in the beginning but there was no person there called the Son of God.  Jesus was not, for example the 4th man in the fiery furnace...  Lloyd therefore does not accept the Trinity concept as conventionally understood' (Needham: 1991).

Confirming this to be the case was an openly recorded interview with Longfield in his Melbourne home in 1994 where he made it quite clear that he no longer affirmed the deity or pre-existence of Jesus Christ.

‘I don't believe that Jesus was God.  When Jesus said, ‘I and the Father are one,' one in mind, one in concept, one in principle in the standing of the Word and so on and so on.  Jesus was the Son of God, that's all' (Longfield, L: 1994).

When pressed to reconcile John 1:1 which says, ‘and the Word was God,' Longfield replied,

‘That's right the Word was, not Jesus.  He was born in Bethlehem you see.  You don't have to believe in the pre-existence of Jesus.  You see, he was pre-existent as the "Word."' (Longfield, L: 1994).

It should be noted that not one article has appeared in any Revival Centre publication affirming, with such clarity, Longfield's Christology.  It should also be noted that as the sole leader with the role and responsibility of formulating doctrine, Longfield saw his personal beliefs as the official doctrines of the Revival Centres International (Longfield, L: 1995).  The RCI has never issued a clarifying satement and their web site continues to make ambigous statements about Jesus.

 

Jesus was not a Jew

            It also appears that the British Israel, anti-Semitic influence upon the Revival Centres has brought them to another unique perspective concerning Jesus Christ.  The Revival Centres have more recently claimed that Jesus was not Jewish.

‘Jesus was not Jewish (the Jews rejected Him), nor was he the King of the Jews!  This is not an anti-Semitic statement about the identity of Jesus.  It was Pontius Pilate who wrote, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews".  Pilate also asked Jesus the question, "What is truth?" and then spoke and wrote this untruth about him at Calvary' (Revival Centres International: 1997).

Whilst this statement is not totally unheard of within the British Israel teaching, it more resembles Christian Identity, a British Israel based form of political racism thriving amongst white supremacists within the USA.

            The doctrines of the Revival Centres International have been greatly influenced by the National Revival Crusade.  However, the Crusade positions have seemed to act only as a starting place for Longfield as he formulated the doctrines for his group.  Whilst still claiming the Bible as their final authority, it would be true to say the Revival Centres International have departed from the majority of historical Christian doctrine.  Once holding an orthodox view on the nature and deity of Christ, the Revival Centres now see Jesus as more than a mere man but something much less than deity.

 

Bibliography

 Cooper, Dudley (1995), Flames of Revival: The Continuing Story of the Christian Revival Crusade, Endeavour Hills: CRC National Executive.

 Durrant, J.H. (1959), ‘The Bible Exposes Fallacies...', Voice of Revival, 1, 9,  p 4. 

 E.S.W. (1959), ‘The Precious Blood of Christ', Voice of Revival 1, 2, p 1.

 Longfield, Lloyd (1961a), ‘God's Word Withstands Attacks by the Philosophers and Traditions', Voice of Revival 3, 5, p 1.

 Longfield, Lloyd (1961b), ‘The Magnified Word of God', Voice of Revival 3, 9, p 6.

 Longfield, Lloyd (1994), recorded personal interview, 1st September.

 Longfield, Lloyd (1995), recorded public sermon, 19th January.

 Needham, F. (1991), Open letter to all pastors of the Revival Centres, dated 9th December, p 7.

 Revival Centres (1959a), ‘Articles of Faith', Voice of Revival 1, 1, p 1.

 Revival Centres (1959b), ‘Deity or Devil-Which Was He?', Voice of Revival 1, 7, p 8.

 Revival Centres (1973), ‘Articles of Faith', Voice of Revival 15, 11, p 3.

 Revival Centres (1974), ‘What We Believe', Voice of Revival 16, 1, p 15.

 Revival Centres International (1995), ‘What We Believe', Voice of Revival 35, 2, pp 10, 11.

 Revival Centres International (1997), ‘Jesus, King of Israel', Voice of Revival 38, 1, p 9.

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