Two decades in evangelicalism didn't do it. Planting a church didn't do it. A master's degree from Fuller Seminary didn't do it. Years of teaching theology at evangelical schools didn't do it. It was a Saturday morning trip to the Rose Bowl that finally showed me what evangelicalism is all about.
That day a revival meeting came to my town, as The Call inaugurated a 40-day fast in Southern California. When I arrived, an estimated 20,000 people were praying, kneeling, dancing, and milling around. The news reports called them "young people," probably because reporters are used to associating church with the elderly, but they spanned at least three generations. The parked buses said they came from all over the western United States and all over the denominational map, and the faces in the crowd said they came from nearly every tribe, tongue, and nation.
On my way out, I couldn't resist visiting the three demonstrators who had caught my eye on my way in. "The Call leads to hell," their signs warned. An exasperated audience surrounded each. "Who are you?" one listener demanded. Her answer came as a pamphlet from a group called A True Church. It featured a list of the false teachers and enemies of the faith the group had come to warn us about: "Benny Hinn, Billy Graham, Bobgans [Martin and Deirdre Bobgan], Charles Spurgeon, Charles Stanley, Chuck Smith, David W. Cloud, Dr. [David] Jeremiah, the Early Church Fathers, Glen Conjurske, Greg Laurie, Jack Hayford, James Dobson, John Hagee, John MacArthur, Keith Green, Miles McPherson, Paul Chappell, Raul Ries, Steven Shoemaker, T. D. Jakes, Tony Evans, Vernon McGee, Catholicism, Central Christian, Church of Christ, COGIC, Coptic Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Laurel Glen Bible, March for ...1