A Decade of Revival—1900-1910

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Author: J. Edwin Orr Summary: Kerry L. Skinner

The Timing of the Movement

Why did it occur when it occured?

  • Within ten years, the awful slaughter of World War I had started, and a gentler way of life passed into the twilight of history.
  • Arnold Toynbee, reminiscing, recalled the trauma of the time, when half his classmates died in battle.
  • Chapman’s biographer stated in review: “God in gracious providence was reaping a spiritual harvest before He permitted the outburst of revolutionary forces…The harvest is gathered before the field is doomed to death.”
  • it did not begin with the Welsh Revival of 1904–05.

Beginnings in Prayer

  • The first manifestation of phenomenal revival occurred simultaneously among Boer prisoners of war in places ten thousand miles apart, as far away as Bermuda and Ceylon.
  • An Awakening began in 1900 in the churches of Japan that had long suffered from a period of “retarded growth….It would have been impossible four years later, when the Japanese became involved in momentous war with the Russian Empire.”

The Welsh Revival of 1904

  • The Welsh Revival was the farthest-reaching of all the movements of the Awakening, for it affected the whole of the evangelical cause in India, Korea and China, renewed the revivals in Japan and South Africa, and sent a wave of awakening over Africa, Latin America and the South Seas.
  • Drunkenness was immediately cut in half, and many taverns went bankrupt. Crime was so diminished that judges were presented with white gloves attesting that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape or robbery, or the like to consider.

Awakenings: Europe and North America

  • …in the Church of England…the Free Churches gained a total ten per cent, or 300,000.
  • News of the Awakening reached the United States.
  • Soon the Methodists in Philadelphia had 6101 new converts in trial memberships; the minister of Atlantic City proclaimed that only fifty adults remained professedly unconverted in a 60,000 population. Churches in New York City took in hundreds on a single Sunday; in one instance 364 were received into membership, 286 new converts, 217 adults, 134 men, 60 heads of families.
  • First Baptist in Paducah [Kentucky] added a thousand in a couple of months and the old pastor died of overwork.
  • In the West, great demonstrations marched through the Los Angeles streets. United meetings attracted attendance of 180,000. the Grand Opera House was filled at midnight with drunks and prostitutes seeking salvation.
  • Church membership in the United States in seven major Protestant Churches increased by more than two million in five years (870,389 new communicants in 1906).

Awakenings in Asia, Latin America and Africa

  • The Indian Revival of 1905–06…moved every province while the Christian population increased by seventy per cent, sixteen times as fast as the Hindu, the Protestant rate of increase being almost double that of the Roman Catholic.
  • …the Korean Revival…came in three waves, 1903, 1905 and 1907, the membership of the churches quadrupling within a decade, the national Church being created from almost nothing by the movement.
  • Protestant membership in Madagascar increased sixty-six per cent in the years of Revival, 1905–1915…
  • The Protestant communicants in the African mission fields increased in 1903–10 from 300,000 to 500,000
  • Social Impact of the Awakening
  • In such awakenings, it seems that the individual response is much more immediate than the social response.
  • Britain: high ethical character
  • U.S.: “public conscience had been revived, overthrowing corrupt officials, crossing the party lines, electing governors, senators, assemblymen, mayors and district attorneys of recognized honesty.”
  • On mission fields, missionaries multiplied their schools and hospitals. In twenty years, pupils in Christian schools in India doubled to 595,725; 90% of nurses were Christian, mostly trained at mission hospitals.