Not Many Wise -

Faith and spirituality in a modern world

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Part 1 Toronto Blessing retrospective

Flames above people.
Flames above people.

My own personal experience prior, during and after the Toronto Blessing.

A brief background to my experience prior to the ‘Toronto Blessing’

I was converted at the age of 20 (1976) through the zeal of a fellow student who attended the local Assembly of God, Pentecostal Church.
After a year I became well established in a Charismatic House Church and we attended large conferences such as John Wimber’s Signs and Wonders.
In the mid 1990′s when the ‘Toronto Blessing’ hit the scene, I had moved area and was involved in a House Church of a hundred or so members. The worship, prayer meetings and home groups were already God centred and lively.

During the ‘Toronto Blessing’:

People laid out or crawling on floor from Toronto Blessing.
People laid out or crawling on floor from Toronto Blessing.

The main part of the Sunday Services remained similar in style but would go into a time of praying for people to receive the blessing.
This would result in such things as people falling over, laughing uncontrollably, crying, shrieking, shaking, crawling or lying on the floor, peculiar movements, crying out, animal noises – barking, chicken noises, roaring, crowing, etc. The prayer meetings would go straight into this phenomenon.
I was ‘up for it’ but didn’t just want to ‘conform’ to the peer pressure.
If anyone was not showing any signs of being ‘touched’ they were encouraged to ‘surrender, don’t resist’.
As I’ve said, I was ‘up for it’ but I was really feeling confused as to why the Lord would want to make anyone bark like a dog, etc, and the meetings did not seem to have any direction.

And after the ‘Toronto Blessing’:

At that time I was working in a high pressure job with long hours and my personal life was facing a crisis, and spiritually I was unable to examine the whole episode and check it out with the Bible.
I think it is fair to say, that the fruit of the ‘Toronto Blessing’ upon our church was questionable. Even though people would say that they had had an experience, the effect would be very short lived. Also, I was aware of no increase in the number of conversions.

After several years, I left that church and started to attend a more local one.
In all my years in Charismatic circles I had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, fillings, and being touched by God, but the whole ‘Toronto Blessing’ left me feeling confused and uncomfortable.

I am not saying that the Lord can’t perform miracles, or that He doesn’t pour out His Spirit upon people, or that His Presence won’t cause weeping or joy, because:

.. enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:29-30

It is only now that I feel it is right to revisit and to investigate this phenomenon, so please join me in exploring the next article …

Peter Reason

December 2011

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