Revivals and spiritual awakenings capture the attention of many. The recent stirrings of revival at Asbury University in February 2023 are no exception. News of protracted worship, Bible reading, preaching, times of confession, and intercession flooded timelines and social media feeds. Several questions arise from this type of occurrence that will be explored in this inquiry: What actions of man, if any, lead to revival? If God sends revival, what is man’s responsibility amid God’s special visitation? Who leads in the stewardship of revival? Why do so many revivals seem to begin with younger populations on post-secondary campuses? If God initiates revivals, what is it about the cultural climate of Asbury that brings about revivals from time to time? How is biblical revival distinguished from revivalism? This paper will use Asbury University as a backdrop to a discussion on revival and the impact on our understanding of theological anthropology. Therefore, this paper argues that theological anthropology plays both a preparatory and responsive role in God’s revival economy.
To achieve this argument, the paper, first, presents the background of revival movements at Asbury University over the last fifty years. This section will examine some of the evidence of precursors to those revival movements and the role man plays when God visits His people.
Second, this paper examines how various aspects of theological anthropology emerge once a revival takes place. Following a genuine revival people tend to undergo a shift in disposition toward God and react in a way that leads to repentance of sin, a change in spiritual disciplines, and a renewed vision for ministry.
Third, this paper will examine the anthropological effects from the inevitable refractory period following a time of revival. Revivals are temporary in nature but often provide enduring changes within individuals or groups of individuals including the changes in disposition toward world evangelization and ongoing missionary work.
Finally, this paper will attempt to distill the relationship between theological anthropology and revivals in several key takeaways that will inform Christian ministry and the anticipation of God’s revival work.