Great Southland Revival: A Review by Dr Stuart Piggin

A guest post by renowned Australian Christian historian Dr Stuart Piggin.

A New Australian Classic

Is this book destined to become a classic in the literature on the Australian Christian experience? Does it so richly communicate the presence of God that the reader is raised above the conviction that we have here testimony only to the intellectual ability of the authors or to their warm-heartedness?

Might it be that we find here spiritual truth which comes not so much from the human heart and mind, but from the divine heart and mind? There are such books written by Australian authors which seem to be endued with a special portion of the divine blessing. Examples might include Will Renshaw’s Marvellous Melbourne and Spiritual Power (Acorn Press, 2014), based on long, faithful service, experience of the Spirit, and deep research.

There is John Blacket’s Fire in the Outback (Albatross, 1997), based on the faithful transmission of the testimony of Indigenous Australians to God’s goodness. It is significant that both of those excellent accounts of genuine, vital Christianity are concerned with the experience of revival.

Great Southland Revival has the same theme and similar spiritual authenticity. Although it is a much more comprehensive account of the subject of revival from Bible times to the present, the reader quickly discerns that its two authors, like Renshaw and Blacket, feel the hand of God on them, and that this account is written out of ‘the love which compels’ (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Australia, a Land of Revivals

One can feel the excitement of those called and commissioned to a divine task. The task? To show Australians that genuine revival has been part of our spiritual DNA, that it has often been the divine response to the deepest needs of the Australian soul, and to stir Australian Christians to unite in prayerful longing for God to ‘do it again’.

It is more than an exciting read: it is a combustible read. It is tinder, as they say (‘kindling’ on our farm where I too, like Kurt, chopped wood) for the divine spark, and ‘it only takes a spark to get a fire going.’

Actually, it’s more than tinder. Great Southland Revival is a bonfire made up of lots of fuel: the cumulative evidence of revivals over the ages, combined with biblical theology of the work of the Spirit in the lives of individuals and nations, and the testimony and appeal of their own personal witness.

They have not been strangers to God’s reviving power in their own years of service to the Lord, both in church and nation.

Well Written and Full of Action

There are some especially wonderful chapters here. Standouts for me include chapter 4 on the Moravians, 16 on the social impact of revival, and the concluding chapter which is searingly challenging, followed by the appendix which is impressively cool (after all the heat!), careful, balanced and authoritative.

The run of chapters on revivals in Australia, the backbone of the book, makes really inspiring reading, which makes one long to share in the blessing. It is not only inspiring. It is a pleasure to read. It is well written and will communicate very effectively with those who will pray and work for the Lord’s blessing on our land.

It is deep in coverage, taking us back to Biblical precedents of revival, and broad in perspective, giving us examples of revival in the history of the church throughout church history, with a preponderance of emphasis on Australian revivals. But for all its depth and breadth, it is not a long book. It is full of action and the action moves fast!

A Summary of My Own Life Work

I am grateful that this relatively short book offers an accessible summary of my own life’s work found mainly in the two volumes I co-authored with Professor Bob Linder, namely The Fountain of Public Prosperity (Monash University Publishing, 2018) and Attending to the National Soul (2020).

(Editor’s note: please consider purchasing these two books by Dr Stuart Piggin and Prof Bob Linder. They are magisterial works and essential reading on Australia’s Christian history).

Kurt and Warwick have not only summarised these large works so well, but they have extended our findings. There are wonderful facts here I’ve not heard before, such as their discovery of the name of the farmer/pastor at Pinnacle Pocket, Queensland, who was influenced by the Welsh Revival.

I never could unearth his name. I hear you protest, ‘Why don’t you just tell us what it is?’ Check it out for yourself, it’s easily done, in the wonderful index of the book — so good to have a Christian book with an index! Jesus has done so much in every Australian community that an index is essential to following it up and checking it out.

I do pray that Great Southland Revival will be widely read, discussed and prayed over, and that it will add significantly to the number of those who are praying that God will reveal to the hearts of His people in Australia the love and plan He has for our nation.

Order your own copy of Great Southland Revival here. Article originally published at the Daily Declaration.

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