So, a glutton for punishment, it seems, I’ve just been listening, out of curiosity for its historic content and interpretation by a cessationist, to Chris Rosebrough’s critique of the meeting at Brownsville in 1995 that broke out into a lasting revival that impacted nations.
It focuses on the first meeting on Father’s Day, twenty-one years ago, no less, when Evangelist, the late Steve Hill, preached a message that brought hundreds, and eventually thousands to their knees before God, many to restoration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, with countless people saved, especially amongst youth.
Wow! What can I say? I’m sorry, but if you know Chris, can you tell him he seriously needs to check his heart?
His criticism, right from the very first sentence uttered by Steve Hill, was distasteful, odious, unedifying, unbiblical and, frankly, given that indeed this was revival in the sense of changed hearts and minds towards God of those who attended Brownsville in those revival days, amounts to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Let’s get this straight, the Pensacola revival was genuine, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not. This is attested to by many respected ministers and peers.
Like most revivals, the Brownsville AOG meetings had a finite time, and towards the end petered out for various reasons, and also has, of course, its critics, but at its height was intense, fruitful, and overseen in a biblical manner. I visited in 1997, two years in, and it was still real, dynamic and powerful.
Contrary to what Rosebrough claims, Steve Hill definitely preached the cross and repentance, and some of his sermons were pretty hard-line and focused on people coming to the understanding of their need of a Saviour, of salvation, grace and spiritual enlivening through the gospel.
About Steve Hill
Evangelist Steve Hill was out of Teen Challenge founder David Wilkerson’s training school, after a troubled youth during which he received Christ through the Teen Challenge outreach whilst in a rehabilitation centre. He went on to be a successful missionary evangelist and church planter, with his wife, to Argentina, Spain, and Belarus.
Later, after a period of spiritual dryness that led him to seek God, he was revived during a meeting at Holy Trinity Brompton whilst on a visit to London, a ministry that has impacted the world in recent years and is continually growing.
It was after this that Hill was invited to speak at the Father’s Day meeting in Pensacola, at which the Brownsville Revival began.
Hill died after a six year battle with melanoma cancer in 2014.
The Rosebrough method
What Rosebrough typically does is play a sermon and stop and start it as it goes along, interjecting with often sarcastic and churlish comments, occasionally preaching his own Lutheran, anti-Pentecostal, cessationist doctrine whilst holding on to the pause button until he has disgorged his own point of view and opinion.
Now and then, in between sardonic remarks, he stops at a Bible verse to give his own little preach on it, taking listeners on another detour. Thus he destroys any continuity for those who want to hear what the targeted preacher is actually saying.
His method is, in audio terms, destructive, and takes the listener away from the original intention of the message into Rosebrough’s shortsighted world of eschatological opinion.
Right from the outset in this critique, Rosebrough demonstrates his own ignorance of scripture, of evangelism, of the work of the Holy Spirit and even of Pentecost, as he aggressively rants over the top of what was, in 1995, a key message that drew thousands to a revival that impacted many. It was a call to holiness and commitment to Christ.
It wasn’t a great message of overwhelming eloquence. As Paul said to the Corinthians, he didn’t come with excellence of speech. It was a prayer-saturated appeal for people to come to a restored faith in Christ. Importantly, despite its oratorial limitations it worked because the Holy Spirit backed it up with signs following that continued daily for months.
I put it to you, and to Chris, that the revival was the real deal. The church at Pensacola had been in concentrated prayer for months for revival. Hill had been seeking God for revival and seen Him move in meetings before he arrived at Brownsville.
Once it began, it reached many people. When I was there, even though, by then, the revival had been going for some time, I found Hill’s messages were still very strong and demanding of repentance, which Rosebrough denies.
Rosebrough’s claims that Hill doesn’t preach for repentance or the cross, or Christ, are erroneously based on a few sentences he reviews in a single message over the course of around two minutes into the message. This is what he does.
Neither does Rosebrough have a clue about the power and effect of testimony when preaching. If a preacher talks about the way in which his or her life has been changed by the gospel, Rosebrough gets in a huff and poo-poos the notion of telling the story of how God has impacted the speaker’s life.
This is extraordinary, and demonstrates the novice-like extremes to which Rosebrough will go to downplay God’s role in our lives.
Unconnected NAR accusations
Like his buddies at the chookwatcher sites Rosebrough is keen to push his meme fabrication that everyone he doesn’t like is in some way connected to the New Apostolic Reformation [NAR], which is now an adopted figment of watchers’ imaginations.
However, if you research it well, NAR doesn’t actually exist as a movement, but is a proposition based on observations by a number of recognised theological authors. In fact, the term ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ was coined by C Peter Wagner in his book ‘Churchquake’ in 1999, four years after the Father’s Day message Rosebrough is reviewing.
The watchers, adding their guile to this theme, have reconstructed the notion of NAR being the cause of all things negative as an amplified symbol of their misguided philosophy of what constitutes wrong doctrine, although their contrary version bears no resemblance to the original thesis put forward by said authors.
Rosebrough, astonishingly, even accused Steve Hill, who would never have heard of NAR in 1995 – being a Pentecostal out of the Assemblies of God – of building himself up as a part of NAR, and, indeed, as a NAR apostle, which is so ludicrous that it tells you straight away that Rosebrough needs some serious counsel on his theology and on his obsessive wrong-headedness about Pentecost, the charismatic move, and, more importantly, the present day ministry, operation and work of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, on this podcast, Rosebrough actually claims that Pentecost is a different spirit, yes, a different spirit, no less. He also denies the biblical teaching of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and calls speaking in tongues bogus, which is why I suggest he is blaspheming the Holy Spirit in this instance, and it may be that this is his general understanding of the theology of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.
To be quite frank, despite a reasonable understanding of some aspects of the Word of God, Rosebrough is a rank amateur when it comes to exegesis of the work of the Holy Spirit. His Lutheran overseers, whoever they are, should take note of the harmful doctrine Rosebrough is emitting through his program, and the way in which he is demeaning bona fide ministries using poor exegesis.
Rosebrough disgracefully scoffs at Hill when he gives testimony of how he was led to the Lord, something that is personal, vital and precious to the person who has been saved. He was led to Christ by a Lutheran minister, which has some irony to it, because Rosebrough is a Lutheran pastor.
How could a candidate for salvation possibly know the correct doctrinal methodology for receiving Christ? Surely this is down to person leading them to Christ – in this case an ordained minister from the Lutheran Church.
And why is Rosebrough criticising Hill, who has since gone to be with the Lord, for giving a testimony which he could not change even if he wanted to? He called out to Jesus and was saved as instructed by the minister in question.
Does Chris really think that Christ would have rejected Hill when he called on His name? What was Rosebrough thinking when he put this out on his global radio program?
Is he actually telling his listeners that they can’t call out on the name of Jesus and be saved? Is this not repentance? When a person turns from their own ways to Christ they are repenting. They are having a metanoia moment. Repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change of life. They are having a change of heart from denying Christ to calling out to Christ. What pastor doesn’t know this?
This is an outrageous moment in a podcast filled with them. Chris needs to reread the Word and see that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This, according to Rosebrough, is not enough.
Hill talks passionately about how he called upon the name of the Lord – “Jesus, Jesus”– and knew that he had been changed on the inside through his new found faith in Jesus, but Rosebrough hacks this down as inadequate.
This makes Rosebrough dangerous to the Body. He is saying it’s not enough to call upon the name of the Lord, even though scripture tells us He will never turn us away when we call upon the name of Jesus.
Romans 10:8-14 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Rejection of the works of God
In this podcast, Rosebrough pours scorn on the works of God in growing churches through evangelism.
Hill speaks of the way in which God brought many to the Lord in the Argentine revival with documented evidence of healings and miracles, with churches growing at a rapid rate, giving glory to God with every testimony.
Yet Rosebrough, whose cessationism rejects such things, can only produce evidence of his own inability to believe that God could providentially, sovereignly, or simply because He spoke it into being under the New Covenant promises, change a community in a radical way through the Word and Spirit when His people step out in prayer and faith to preach the good news with the expectation of signs following, by which I mean salvation, healing and deliverance, which are all promised as signs following the preaching of the gospel.
What Chris has done is reveal his own lack of understanding of the Word and operation of the Spirit, who works alongside us when we preach the gospel of salvation.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
One of the worse things I heard on this podcast is the way Rosebrough mocks an altar call where Hill makes an appeal to people to receive Christ through personal repentance and acknowledgement of their need of salvation.
This altar call was the beginning of many thousands coming to the Lord. We’ll leave it at that for you to consider whether Rosebrough is for God or against. He may think he is for God in his head, but there’s something lacking here when he can’t grasp the importance of compelling people to come to the altar of salvation, but would rather scoff at the minister who successfully and lastingly worked with the Holy Spirit to draw many to Christ.
To think these things is one thing. To publish them as a criticism of those who minister the gospel is quite another.
Denies documented evidence
Finally, for this article, even though there is more we could say, Rosebrough rejects Hill’s claim that he has documented evidence from medical experts of healings that took place during a revival in South America from which he had just returned.
When you hear, often, from self-styled discernment ministries like Irate Christian Radio that more healings, deliverance and miracles should carry medically or scientifically ratified evidence, to reject it outright when it is offered is evidence not of a person who is seeking God for truth, but of a critic who is too full of pride and prejudice to admit that he might have to rethink some of his own doctrine.
Rosebrough makes such a hatchet job of this criticism of the beginning of the Brownsville revival that one wonders if he realises what he is actually doing. I was prepared to listen to what he had to say, but from the very beginning of this critique he was unrelentingly and erroneously disrespectful of the ministry of an Evangelist who was then at his peak and seeing many great things take place around the world by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
I have to question Rosebrough’s motives in even reviewing this message. Is Rosebrough so keen on attacking Pentecost that he will gradually sift through key happenings in those denominations in an attempt to demolish all semblance of good God has done through them simply because Rosebrough can’t believe what the New Testament actually says?
What he is doing to the audience is pushing them away from the actual point and perspective of the Word in the message into Rosebrough’s own hateful opinion of anything that doesn’t reflect his own opinion and dogma.
I have to say this was a very difficult podcast to listen to, not because of anything Steve Hill said, but because of the attitude, hostility and wrong intentions of Rosebrough. It was actually a time of spiritual grieving to endure even a few minutes of this critique.
My conclusion is that Rosebrough surely needs help from someone who loves him.