To some critics, the Revival Alliance extends beyond the boundaries of mainstream Christianity. Beverley notes the connection between several Revival Alliance members and the New Apostolic Reformation, which tends to grant extraordinary amounts of power to particular "apostolic" leaders. Beverley sees Catch the Fire as largely distinct from these more radical movements, but the relationships and mutual endorsement remain.
One figure who links the Revival Alliance with the New Apostolic Reformation is Randy Clark, a former Southern Baptist pastor who preached for 42 of the first 60 consecutive days of the revival in 1994. His preaching opened the 20th-anniversary revival conference, with his familiar text (John 7:37–38) and familiar theme of developing a "thirst for more" of God.
When asked about unorthodox elements or exaggerated claims of spiritual power among members of the Revival Alliance, Clark responded, "Our unity is not based on doctrinal agreement. Our unity is based on the experienced presence of God and how it renewed us and our commitment to a gospel of the kingdom."
"Our legitimate critics would say we are weak on a theology of suffering, and I think it's an appropriate critique," said Clark. "But I am convinced we have a solid biblical basis for what we teach. I believe my critics have an under-utilized eschatology. They're putting off into the millennium what God has made available for the present."
I have nothing but admiration for the leadership and members of Catch the Fire, and their ministry in our metropolis. But I do wonder how they manage the expectations encouraged by the style of prayer practiced at Catch the Fire and by Revival Alliance leaders. Hoping for a "magic touch" in prayer can manipulate people into yearning for a particular style of "anointing." They start to hunger for the visible manifestations of bodies fallen, resting peacefully, or shaking uncontrollably as if by a mysterious voltage. Their hope for physical healing is often disappointed.
And what do you do during the long seasons when you walk with little sense of experiential "anointing"? Those years of normal life when the Word made flesh, the enduring truth of the Resurrection, is all you have to go on?
The anniversary was a good time for me to reflect on these questions. I know I received a profound inner healing at the revival. We have been given beautiful gifts in the Toronto Blessing, and beautiful gifts too in those who critique it. I'm thankful that in God's wide family we have both—servants who steward Word and Spirit.
Lorna Dueck is the host and executive producer of Context with Lorna Dueck. Context's Stephen Lazarus provided additional research for this article.