I’ve been watching the documentary “Marjoe” from the early 70s. It’s the true story of Marjoe Gortner who was basically coerced and abused by his parents into becoming a revival preacher at age 4. The parents went on to make a lot of money from the phenomenon of a “child preacher”. As an adult, Goenter briefly returned to the revival circuit and agreed to make a documentary as a way of exposing the hypocrisy of revival preaching. It reminds me a lot of “Elmer Gantry”. The thing is, the guy was still an awesome preacher despite the corrupt undercurrent of the revivals, and the people attending in many cases appear visibly moved. I wouldn’t be surprised if these preachers, dishonest though they might be, actually did bring some people to Jesus.
It got me wondering if there were still any of these old-timey revivals still touring around the US? The mega church ones on TV use a lot of the same techniques, but with everybody in a fancy suit and setting and taking donations by phone, there’s some immediacy and authenticity and energy lacking.