UPDATE: Over the past month since I posted this entry a lot has happened. The most important thing to occur is that I was simply convicted regarding my tone in this article. I talk a lot about how, as mature adults, we should be able to be disagree without malice, and though I was not consciously aware of my tone as I wrote this entry, rereading it throughout the month has shown me that I was harsh. It’s one thing to question the actions of a person as they affect others, but it’s entirely another thing to question their motives. The second thing to occur is the I have renewed conversation with Dr. Brown, and through a few simple exchanges, I was able to see how hurt he was by my post. Not how defensive he was regarding the actual topics at hand, but how he was genuinely hurt by my words and my tone.
Neither Dr. Brown or I am perfect. We are both humans who are still growing and learning. I still maintain that we disagree on a number of things, but that in no way makes me right. To any future readers, I would like to say that in my experience, and I cannot speak for others here, Dr. Brown has always been forthcoming and honest, and has a genuine desire to serve God, so if you’re looking for any sort of ammunition against him, it will not be found here. In fact, if you continue reading my blog, you’ll find that I am moving away from what I see wrong with the Church, to being more positive about my beliefs and my journey.
And to Dr. Brown, I’d like to say again that I am sorry for the hurt I caused. There is no excuse for my tone in this article, and I had no right to make the assumptions that I did. Please forgive me for that. Hopefully we can move on to have wonderful discussions about our differences, and settle on the common ground we do share, which begins with both of us having an earnest desire for truth and loving God.
Carlton Brumbelow – 4/21/2012
Leadership in the Brownsville Revival was a sacred thing. Not because spiritual authority was heavily taught (though it was), but because most of the members of the church and BRSM students nearly worshiped the leadership team. In our minds, they were the catalysts of the revival, no matter how often we were told that it was all God’s doing.
At the end of every service, people would rush to the altar in throngs and line up waiting to be blessed by their favorite leader. If you felt God was calling you to more scholarly pursuits, you spent most nights chasing Dr. Michael L. Brown around. Music? That was Lindell Cooley’s pervue. Church pastor? John Kilpatrick? Evangelists and missionaries? Steve Hill.
Over the years the charismatic church has created its own “book of spells,” if you would. I do not question the end result – that God moves and acts (though I do not think he does so in the manner we so often attribute to him) – but large facets of the church have become reliant on methodoly, words, and soft incantations to achieve these results. This is what happened at the revival as well, otherwise worship leaders wouldn’t need to seek out Lindell Cooley for an anointing so that there “fingers played the music God wants them to play.” In fact, an old adage of the revival was “when the pattern is right, the fire will fall.”
Over the years I have stopped following the events of most of the Brownsville leadership. I know Steve Hill moved to Dallas and has a church there. Lindell Cooley moved to Nashville and started a “grace-based” church there, which is a stark contrast to the holiness focus of the revival. I’m not sure what John Kilpatrick is up to.
The only one of the main four leaders of the revival who would know me from Adam is Dr. Brown. For many years I considered him my spiritual mentor, and though I now personally believe that he has gotten off base, I still cherish the things I took away from his teaching.
And this is where things get hairy with my readership. Please remember, I am sharing my own personal opinions based on my own personal experiences. You may have had very different experiences, and most of you likely have very different opinions.
There were two reasons why I gravitated toward Dr. Brown. First of all, his background was Judaism, complete with a PhD. in Near Eastern Languages. When I first became a believer I was obsessed with eschatology (the study of the end times), and most interpretations have a lot to do with Israel, so I became obsessed with Israel by proxy. Secondly, he had written about revival for many years before Brownsville started, so he was the resident expert on the subject. I was a smart kid (though I thought myself to be much smarter than I was) who wanted to be like Mike (I’ve literally been waiting years to be able to say that in context. Check that one off my list.).
When I left Pensacola I kept in touch with Dr. Brown via email for a few years, but things started to change. I personally started to change. My views were evolving into a gospel based more on how we treated our fellow human beings rather than an overly spiritualized obsession with becoming perfect, and Dr. Brown was changing too.
I don’t remember when I noticed it. I think it was when I got a newsletter mentioning a trip to Washington D.C. for a protest. I was fine with the protest itself, but it was very unlike the Dr. Brown I knew to be involved politically. In my experience he had always strayed from politics in favor of pursuing the personal, individual changes a person could go through.
And then things got gay. No, seriously. At some point in the early aughts Dr. Brown, and FIRE School (BRSM split in 2000, which I will talk about in a later post), started protesting at gay/lesbian rallies, and Dr. Brown started producing materials about the gay agenda.
Here’s the deal, no matter what my views on homosexuality are, the shift of focus from revival to politics shocked me. It shouldn’t have. Right before I left Pensacola Dr. Brown’s Revolution: The Call to Holy War was released. When I read it, I read it with the mindset of a revivalist, so everything was figurative. A passage that would call for us to stand up against encroaching evil meant more prayer and witnessing to me, but it never meant legislation.
I don’t have contact with Dr. Brown anymore. I don’t support his methods. I still love him as one of the greatest influences in my life, but I personally believe his focus has shifted. I know mine has, so I can’t blame someone for shifting focus, but my shift has gone in a different direction than his. Is either one of us more right than the other? Well, that’s a question that will get a different answer from everyone.
Here’s what I can tell you though. For years I lived in the shadow of the revival. It haunted me, and even though the changes I was going through felt right, I still couldn’t escape the revival (for the record, I did not just easily step into these changes. They came through many years of prayer, contemplation, and running back to the familiar comfort zones of the revival). Then one day I made the decision to cut contact. Not out of anger, resentment, or meanness. I just had to move on, so I unsubscribed to everything coming from Dr. Brown’s ministries (with the exception of one newsletter, which only gives a brief synopsis of current events and happenings in the ministry).
It was cathartic. Since doing so, my spiritual life has flourished. I still have things to figure out, and changes to make, but things are just different now.
And to the Dr. Brown superfans out there, please know that I am not bashing Dr. Brown. I’m simply sharing my experiences. I expect this is where my readership drops, and I’m okay with that. I told you all in the beginning that this series wouldn’t be all roses and no thorns.
Next time I want to talk about my experiences with BRSM leadership. I have a lot of really great memories from some of them, and a few not-s0-great ones.
NOTE: Dr. Brown, I know there’s a good chance you’ll read this. You do a good job of keeping up on where your name pops up. If you do read this, please know that I truly do love you. I don’t agree with you like I once did on many subjects, but I still cherish you.