Do you think the world is becoming freer, morals looser, and we are all destined to hedonistic paradise? Think again. It is but a small retreat from the perpetual tide of God, says Reverend Brian Abshire, who explains the ebb and flow of Christian history and how, in the not so distant future, everyone on Earth will accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. And it is all about babies, too!
I am a Christian, and the fundamental presupposition that I and a great many other Christians share is the inevitable victory of Christ’s Kingdom. His Kingdom includes, but is not limited to, the institutional Church. In effect, according to the sovereign providence of God, in His own time, His Spirit will convert the nations, which in turn will re-order every aspect of life to reflect His glory as we were always intended to do. I do not presume to know precisely what all these institutions might look like. I believe that the Kingdom grows like leaven – that slowly, over time, it infiltrates and permeates every aspect of society. If a man has never seen a loaf of bread before, could he predict what it would look like, smell like and taste like, from the raw dough mixed with yeast? In other words, the Kingdom is built not from the top down by imposition, but from the bottom up, as people everywhere come to confess Jesus as Lord, and then work to bring every area of life into submission to His will. Thus, the greater reformation begins with personal conversions to faith in Christ, where He regenerates a sinful human heart, and individual sanctification, where His Holy Spirit works to transform that life. This is the necessary foundation to transform a society’s institutions. In fact, where we would differ from most of our brothers, is that they almost exclusively focus on the personal, subjective, aspects of conversion, while we insist that it must necessarily have profound implications in the broader culture.
As evidence, examine the tremendous sociological effects that Christianity had on the pagan nations of Europe. Christ transformed not just individuals but whole societies. When I have visited Africa, the brothers often laughed uproariously when I told them about my Scottish ancestors, who ran around naked, painted their bodies blue, and practiced human sacrifice before the gospel came to them.But within a few centuries, Scotland embraced the gospel and it transformed their nation. Centuries after that, the Scots were driven out of Scotland by the English. We came to America, often as slaves and treated no better than the ones brought from Africa. Apart from the fact that both groups can blame the English for a lot of things (and that was meant to be humorous – my wife is British), the main difference between the two is that the gospel had fifteen hundred years to soak into Scottish culture and transform it, while Africans have only had a century or more. Then the Scots were providentially blessed by the Reformation, which, again, transformed the national character. The end result is that the Scots largely built America as a distinctive nation (along of course with the English Puritans), with the cultural values that gave the nation its unprecedented combination of liberty, prosperity and influence.
It can be demonstrated that when America rejected its Christian heritage, we began to lose everything that had given us a cultural advantage – the government began to grow and dominate every aspect of life, our birth rates fell, our families began to disintegrate, which is statistically related to increased crime, violence and poverty, and we stopped being a friend to the rest of the world, and became well, not so much a blessing…
Which leads to the third supposition; that history ebbs and flows according to the providence of God. There are times of great revival, evangelism and expansion, and times of retreat, judgment and correction. Many of our brothers see all the evils of the modern world and think it means the Lord Jesus must be back soon. I instead look at all of Church history and see that we have been here before. The early Church was persecuted by the Romans for centuries and then we conquered them with the gospel. Then Christendom was attacked by the Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals, but eventually we converted them and the rest of Europe to faith in Christ. Syncretism, heresy and paganism undermined the faith in North Africa and the Middle East and was given over to Islam, who, at one time, threatened all of Europe. But God was gracious and their expansion was stopped. And then there came the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Humanism, Darwinism and Marxism – all which threatened the faith and seemed at the time unstoppable. But eventually these too all fell.
I think of history like the force of the tide. If you have ever sat on a beach and watched the tide come in, the waves rush to the shore and then, rush right back out again. If you did not know any better, you might think the waves tried to reach the shore but failed. But slowly and inexorably, each wave gets a little closer, and the water gets just a little deeper. Right now, I believe that we are in one of those periods of history where the waves are rushing back – but I fully expect them to come forward again soon, and reach even closer to the shore. Progress towards the Kingdom is inevitable, and there are plenty of signs already that God is about to lead us to a new high.
Let me give just one example: forty years ago (when I was still a teenager), a large family was considered old fashioned, obsolete, and undesirable. All of the people I knew in High School had, at best, one or two children. The most common experience was a couple getting married, then divorced in a few years. Then, in their late twenties, my male friend married a woman who had a couple of kids from a previous marriage, never having any of their own. Almost an entire generation of my peers basically disappeared – they had no children, and therefore they have no future. However, since that time, by the grace of God, a lot of Christians have rediscovered the joys and blessings of having children. In the last three churches where I have been the pastor, the average family has had at least five children. Furthermore, these children are almost always schooled at home, which means not only do they out-perform their pagan peers academically, but they also stay within the faith when they become adults.
What this means is that, within one generation, tens of thousands of Christian households are having large families, whose children remain in the faith. Therefore, the next generation will have literally millions of Christian families, which in turn means the generation after them will have TENS of millions of Christian families! The principle of compound interest can and does work in our favour. Meanwhile, those who reject Christianity, and embrace humanism, are either aborting their children or not having any in the first place. More than seventy-five million children have been aborted in America since 1973 – children who would have grown in (for the most part) leftist, humanist, homes with leftist, humanist, values. Birthrates for every Western nation are at below-replacement rates – Europeans and Americans are not having enough children to sustain their own populations. Literally, they are dying out as a people – except for Christians. Thus, if Christians have reasonably-sized families and ensure that their children receive a Christian, rather than humanist, education, Western culture is literally only two generations away from being completely transformed.