Canadian Revival Fellowship

A "Revival" of Pseudomysticism

-  Incorporated on 9/13/72 in Canada; headquartered in Regina, Saskatchewan.

-  Founder: Wilbert McLeod, 7 Mansard Close, Winnipeg, MB R2P0C4, (204) 633-7484.

-  Revival Fellowship News, Ralph Sutera, 1801 Stony Ridge Ct., Mansfield, OH, (419) 756-9932.

-  Director: Harold Lutzer, brother of Erwin Lutzer (pastor of Moody Memorial Bible Church).

-  Sutera sent BDM Erwin Lutzer's book Flames of Freedom, which details the revival movement which culminated in the formation of the Canadian Revival Fellowship. Key teachings in the book, follow: (Flames of Freedom, published in 1976, in its 7th printing in 1989, was sent to us as documentation of CRF's current policy, practice, and position.)

(a) Highly experience/emotionalism oriented ["Revival is nothing more than having our experience catch up with our theology" (p. 127).] with lots of "needs" talk -- sounds much like Larry Crabb's "need theology" in places. A "crisis experience" is to be the "turning point" in a person's spiritual life (i.e., the same thing the charismatics call the "second blessing") (pp. 18-19, 43, 158-159, 168).

(b) Emphasizes the need for "share-ins" of what God is doing in lives. Seems to claim a sanctifying power in "sharing" that the Word by itself is unable to accomplish, so much so that churches participating in revivals are told that they should make public sharing "a permanent part of the church's life and witness. ... perhaps the revival prayer room ... must be continued as a process [after the revival team leaves town]" (pp. 19, 151).

(c) Testimonies ("sharing sessions") indicate the frequent practice of common confession/public confession of sins (in fact, Lutzer claims this is part of the definition of what a revival is all about), at both the "altar" ("brokenness" and "weeping openly before God") and in the "afterglows" at the "prayer chair " The clear implication is that if one doesn't "come forward" to the altar or go into the "prayer room" (i.e., if one doesn't respond to the pressure of the emotional experience), then something is wrong with him -- i.e., "critical spirit," "resentful," "self-righteous," etc. [At revivals, "people either respond to God or they become more critical and resentful" (p. 128).] (pp. 28, 36, 59-60, 113, 125-126, 136, 148, 160).

(d) Lutzer describes the "afterglow" sessions (part of the "prayer room ministry") as, "This is group therapy with Christ as the focal point." Those with "special needs" would kneel at the prayer chair while others would pray over them (sometimes through the night, due to the waiting line), or address the person with counsel, "perhaps from the Bible, perhaps from experience" (experience equal authority with the Bible?). Emotionally-/mystically-charged pragmatism is evidently the key -- "The results were phenomenal" (pp. 20, 33-35, 44, 58).

(e) Doctrine is seldom mentioned as being part of CRF's revival planning or in the revival services -- in fact, one of CRF's basic tenets is, "When invited by a group of churches, no attempt is made to stress denominational distinctives. ... The Fellowship has a transdenominational ministry" (p. 100).

(f) Emphasizes love and unity, clearly at the expense of truth (doctrine) -- the experience and the emotion seem to rule. In fact, emotionalism is taken to be the evidence that "God is working." (One pastor wrote to the editor of Revival Fellowship News: "One of thekeys, we believe, is the unity among sponsoring churches. We are truly 'one in the bond of love'.") The criticism that "theological matters [had] been set aside in the interest of Christian love," appears to be a valid one (pp. 43, 48, 110, 120, 141).

(g) Another of CRF's basic tenets is that, "The Fellowship is not charismatic, that is, it does not promote 'speaking with other tongues'" (p. 100). However, there is clearly more to charismania than just "tongues-speaking," and since a major aspect of CRF's ministry is involved in "deliverance from demons"* (replete with commands to demons to depart from so-called "invaded" Christians), it is obvious that CRF is very much charismatic in faith and practice. (See McLeod's book Fellowship with the Fallen, as well as two of his taped revival messages, "The Christian and the Occult," and "Recognizing & Dealing with the Occult" for the overwhelming evidence in this area.)

(h) Claims to be against ecumenical evangelism, but ecumenical "cooperation" of churches sponsoring the revivals is encouraged -- as long as apostate, liberal churches are not included, this form of ecumenism is deemed to be okay. (One of the evidences of the success of a revival seems to be the success in "knocking down denominational barriers.") Moreover, CRF's leadership considers Biblical separation to be a "peripheral matter" (pp. 31-33, 48, 51, 100, 109-110, 115, 130, 132, 161).

(i) Many psychological terms used -- deep emotional disorders/problems; mental depressions; unconditional acceptance; self-acceptance; deep-seated inferiority complexes; subconscious/unconscious behavior; deep, longing needs; deep, personal problems buried deep inside; etc. (pp. 35-36, 43, 50, 65, 69, 77, 103, 112, 116, 125, 141, 150, 157, 168, 170, 173, 176, 180).

(j) The gospel message at the revivals is clearly Arminian -- lots of "decision" talk, "accepting" Christ, etc. (pp. 22, 36-37, 53, 63, 91, 112).

(k) The value of "restitution" for past sins is highly emphasized -- implication is that restitution is key for the assurance of salvation and as evidence that God has truly worked in the believer's life -- "It's the only way to release" (pp. 40, 51, 111, 140, 189).

Wilbert (Bill) McLeod: [74 years old (born 1918) (pp. 53-56, 122)]

(a) Cites four Scripture passages as the Biblical basis for revival -- Hab. 3:2; Psa. 85:5; Isa. 57:15; 2 Chron. 7:14 -- none would appear to support the public emotionalism that CRF-style revivals encourage.

(b) Revival ministry began sometime after God had given Bill a vision in a dream. Bill seriously believes that this dream/vision ("experience") was from God -- "At that moment it was as if I was connected to the dynamo of the universe" (sounds like some Star Wars Force/New Age experience). Lutzer comments, "McLeod is indeed plugged into the dynamo of the universe."

(c) McLeod claims to have refused to cooperate with evangelistic campaigns that were co-sponsored with liberal churches, and while he did not support a certain united evangelistic crusade (i.e., ecumenical) in Saskatoon, the people of Ebenezer (McLeod's home church where the first revival occurred in 1971) were encouraged by McLeod to "make their own decisions regarding the matter ..." As a result of this "non-warning" warning, some of his people did become involved in those meetings.

(d) Believes that Christians can be "invaded" by demons. At the revivals, McLeod preaches one sermon on the occult, and then invites believers to stay behind for special counseling for those "invaded by Satan's forces"; i.e., "As many as 50 people remain behind" (p. 56). (CRF recommends McLeod's book Demonism Among Evangelicals and the Way to Victory -- McLeod exposes the work of demons, their attacks on believers, and the way to victory." The book is now out of print, and has been replaced by Fellowship with the Fallen.)

(e) Women are routinely used as teachers of men in the main plenary sessions at CRF leadership seminars/rallies. (See Fall 1990, Revival Fellowship News.)  [Back to Text]

* McLeod's position on demonism is highly charismatic, claiming that Christians and non-Christians alike can be demonized. Yet he plays a word game by attempting to distinguish between a demonized unbeliever, who can be "controlled" (i.e., "possessed") by demons, and the demonized believer, who can only be "invaded" (i.e., "oppressed"). By establishing that Christians can be invaded, but not totally controlled, McLeod has set up an artificial distinction between demon oppression and possession. With this distinction in place, McLeod teaches that "oppressing" fiends must still be commanded to depart because of their hold on the "invaded" believer. This artificial distinction allows McLeod to cast-out demons from Christians who have become "invaded," while still maintaining the conservative evangelical position that Christians cannot be "possessed" (in the sense of "total control"). One can easily see from this artificial framework that it becomes virtually impossible for any observer, McLeod included, to distinguish between unbelievers who are possessed, and thereby, totally controlled by demons, and believers who have merely become "deeply invaded."

McLeod's book Fellowship with the Fallen is replete with testimony after testimony of Christians who supposedly had been exposed to, but never totally renounced, some occult practice (McLeod lists some 60 practices ranging from witchcraft to the reading of horoscopes), had thereby become "invaded"/"oppressed" by demons, and had then had to have themselves "set free" from the demon spirits by McLeod and his counselors (via the ceremonial process of repentance, prayer, laying-on of hands, and the command of the spirit(s)to depart in the name of Jesus). (McLeod claims that typically anywhere from 30-60 respond to a revival meeting invitation to have their demons cast-out!) Contrary to the traditional evangelical position, McLeod appears to hold that the extensiveness of demonization is now precisely the same as it was in the time of Christ, and that the ministry and actions of the Lord in this arena are to be emulated by us today.  [Back to Text]

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 4/92