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10/20/97 Prof outlines inadequacies in modern revival efforts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Comparing modern revival efforts to a child mixing sticks, water and dirt in a pot over a campfire, visiting instructor of biblical studies William Buzwell “Buz” McNutt called on Midwestern Baptist Seminary students to seek truly biblical revival and reformation during an Oct. 14 chapel address at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.
“We don’t want to just stir up what we’ve got,” said McNutt, who served six years as pastor of Northeast Community Church, SBC, in Columbia, S.C., before coming to Midwestern. “We’re asking God to rend the heavens and come down, and to change us and make us new. We need reformation.”
Using the Old Testament Book of Ezra as the basis of his message, McNutt, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, outlined for students the principles of biblical revival and reformation.
Beginning in Ezra 1:1, McNutt noted how reformation and revival are granted by the sovereign will of God alone, and not by human efforts. He contrasted this view with what he described as some of the most popular literature in churches today, which he quoted as teaching “God first wants you to allow him to mold and to shape you,” “God can only use us if we remain moldable” and “The church would be better if they would only let God be the head.”
“You say, ‘What’s wrong with those? Is there some theological problem in there? Are you speaking of a deep hyper-Calvinism?'” McNutt said. “No, what I’m talking about is subtle humanism. We have this misunderstanding that my sin prevents God from doing what he wants to do, or my obedience allows God to do what he wants to do. Both of those are erroneous. God does what he wants to do.
“The reason we do not have reformation and revival in America today is because it has not pleased God to send it,” McNutt said.
He also noted that biblical reformation and revival are founded upon God’s use of his Word, as found in Ezra 1:1, where God fulfills the Word he gave through revival. McNutt called on students to preach the Bible as God’s Word, in contrast with contemporary practices.
“In Southern Baptist life, preaching the Word has almost become a byword,” he said. “‘Wow, that fellow really preaches the Word.’ ‘That guy really preaches the Word.’ And he barely enters into the text.”
McNutt also emphasized that in chapters 3 through 5 of Ezra revival occurs in the context of a unified community. He said the need for purity in the community is shown in chapter 4, where the people refuse to allow their enemies to participate in the reconstruction of the temple. Yet church polity today often works against community purity and unity, McNutt said.
“Typically, in a Southern Baptist church today, if somebody walks up the aisle and shakes the pastor’s hand and says, ‘Boy, I just believe with all my heart that this is where God wants me and my family to be, and we want to join here,'” McNutt explained, “in a typical Southern Baptist church, they get turned around right there on the spot and they say, ‘Everybody glad that the Joneses have come today, just raise your hand and say amen,’ and they’re in. And you don’t know any more about this guy and this gal than the man in the moon. You don’t know if they just walked up the street from the latest cult. You don’t even know if they are purposely integrating into that fellowship to divide it because they are from kind of cult down the street.
“The fact is, our constitutions say that’s the way that we operate. We operate under the Robert’s Rules of Order, parliamentary procedure. We operate under the democratic process, and that breaks my heart,” McNutt said. When Christians should be concerned with unity and purity in the body, McNutt argued that Robert’s Rules of Order are not designed for such purposes.
“The democratic process, which I love so dearly as a political entity of our country, I hate in the fellowship of the living God. I hate it, because it is designed for division,” whereas, “Our fathers used to get on their knees and pray through it.”
McNutt added, “What we have done through our polity is not only have we invited folks to come and join our church, but because of our constitution, we turn them right around and say to them, ‘Now you can help direct this fellowship,’ because they have the rights and privileges just like anyone else under our constitution. And they may not even know the Lord.”
Qualified leadership is also needed for biblical reformation and revival, McNutt said, calling attention to Ezra’s knowledge and skill in the Word of God, as described in Ezra 7:1-6.
“Oh, that we might have qualified leadership according to 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1,” McNutt said. “We are so barren in this area, for the preaching of the Word of God. We are to be diligent to show ourselves approved, workmen that need not to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
“Now, I have a real big challenge,” McNutt said. “First of all, we’re not studying the Word of God. And secondly, we’re not approved. And thirdly, we’re not accurately handling the word of truth. As bad as those three things are, there’s something worse: … in our pulpits across America … we’re not even ashamed of it.”

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  • Clinton Wolf