Will Evangelicalism Die or Revive: An Excerpt from My Almost for His Highest
- Friday, October 22, 2010
How will God bring revival? Precisely the way He's done it in the past. He will cleanse the house of Israel of its cultural carnality and vindicate His name among the nations. In this special season, we will embrace the "words in red" -- which we've conveniently quarantined under the "hard sayings of Jesus" -- the way an asthmatic embraces oxygen. The waste places shall be restored. The ancient fields replanted. He will put a "new Spirit" within us. No longer will we permit the culture to set the agenda for the Church. The Church will again set the agenda for the culture.
If you doubt my anticipation of a great coming revival, then consider the following historical facts. The 16th-century European Reformation had a profound impact on virtually every area of European life. However, the spiritual danger facing Europe of the early 17th century was one that the magisterial Reformers Luther and Calvin would not have predicted. The rising sun of the Reformation that had shown such promise of being the standard-bearer of the light of the gospel to the nations had, within just several decades of their deaths, been eclipsed by a false gospel -- the "light" of reason. In the hands of Descartes and Locke, this light was said to aid men in their search for the truth of Christianity. In the hands of Tillotson and Toland, however, this light became the grid through which all revelation was to be judged.
By the mid-18th century, the gloves were off. When Voltaire and Rousseau referred to their activities as promoting the "Enlightenment," they meant that they were replacing what they perceived as the darkness, ignorance, and grip of Christianity that had ruled men's minds from the Middle Ages to the Thirty Years' War with the "light" of human reason, autonomy, and tolerance.
It took but a short time for the doctrines of the Enlightenment to reach the shores of America. By the late 18th century, the "best and brightest" of our still young nation were being captivated by its seductive grip. It's believed that by the time Timothy Dwight became the eighth President of Yale in 1795, there were fewer than twenty Christians in the entire college. Yet did God wring His hands in desperation? No. In response to the prayers, fasting, and supplications of godly men and women in Scotland and America, He raised up mighty, Spirit-filled preachers of the gospel, men such as Daniel Baker and Asahel Nettleton, to usher in the Second Great Awakening...
This article is an excerpt from John Barber's new book, My Almost for His Highest (Wipf and Stock). Dr. John Barber is pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and instructor at Uzima Reformed College in Nairobi, Kenya. He is author of several books, including The Road From Eden: Studies in Christianity and Culture. He maintains a website (www.roadfromeden.com) specializing on topics relevant to Christianity and culture and he blogs at Legato (http://johnjbarber.blogspot.com/)
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