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Blog #375: Unexpected Conversions are Happening – How Will The Church Respond?

Columnist Travis Tucker, writing a column published in the January 21st, 2024 issue of the Western Standard magazine, states that “Normal human history does not move in lockstep around the world.” His point is that conversions have been happening since 2020 and the Covid pandemic in 2020 and that, as the world has fallen apart, individuals have sensed their need for God and have been turning to him. He wonders how the church is going to handle such conversions. He writes, ‘Picture this: It’s Friday night. In a nondescript and somewhat secretive location a group of people has been meeting the last couple of years. They meet to encourage one another. They meet to have a laugh and remind each other that they are not insane. They commiserate. Half-way through the night, as the conversation has turned to more serious things, one of the main guys stands up, gets their attention, and asks this to the group of about 20 folks: How many of you over these past three years has become a Christian? Every hand goes up. It’s not an avowedly Christian group. Just a bunch of renegades and resisters. (These were participants in Canada’s Trucker’s Convoy). And similar scenarios are happening all over the country and even the world. In a time when so many find that their equilibrium has been destroyed, that the institutions they trusted in along with their governments have been revealed to be self-serving, not a few people have concluded that we are in a battle between good and evil. You wonder why the Trucker Convoy had so many spiritual overtones to it? Take comedian JP Sears, for example. In one of his more straight-up, sober videos, “I Changed My Mind about God”, Sears confesses that he reluctantly has become Christian during the pandemic and that at every show he does he has tonnes of fans coming up afterward saying that their experience has been the same. He calls his fans to pray…even for George Soros, Bill Gates and Justin Trudeau.
The narrative of the Christian scriptures has offered an explanation for all this seizing of power, for the forced confession of absurdities, such as men can have babies and for politicians and bureaucrats who are above the law and unaccountable to the people. Some, such as evolutionary biologist (and atheist) Bret Weinstein have taken to using biblical metaphors such as “the Beast” or “Goliath” to personify the rise of a totalitarian technocracy or managerial state. We’re not in the materialist universe anymore, Dorothy.
Here is British writer, journalist and environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth, also a former atheist: “My most strongly held belief is this: that our modern crisis is not economic, political, scientific or technological, and that ‘no answers’ will be found in those spheres. I believe that we are living through a deep spiritual crisis; perhaps even a spiritual war.” He, too, has become a Christian, reluctantly.
Then there is Naomi Wolfe, former third-wave feminist writer with books such as The Beauty Myth, journalist for the New York Times and Washington Post, critic and once political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton: “This is not normal human history. Normal human history does not move in lockstep around the world. I have had to conclude that there is something metaphysical at work here and that we are living in a biblical time in which there is a battle between good and evil. And this is playing out on a material plane but this is a manifestation of dark forces that really just hate humanity. I have become much more sure that I need God. And that God is the way we are going to get out of this.”
Such confessions are happening all over the place. But the question is, is the church ready for these people? Is the church able to deal with everyone from truck-drivers to public intellectuals, many of whom are far outside of the box? Do we shake hands at the church luncheon with a feminist (Naomi Wolfe) known for the quote: “Orgasm is the body’s natural call to feminist politics.”? The same one who is now called a conspiracy theorist? It’s the 70s again, man.
We have an entirely disorientated and disenfranchised demographic. Many are full of anger, even hate. They are disillusioned. They are disoriented. Some are conspiracy theorists, flat-earthers, moon-landing deniers, who feel like they’ve suddenly been red-pilled and now don’t trust anything or anyone. They might smoke. They probably have potty mouths. They tell off-colour jokes. They drop F-bombs right alongside their “Praise the Lord.” They drink. And they know nothing of the Gaithers, Michael W. Smith, or theological rabbit holes such as pre- and post-trib, Arminianism or Calvinism, real presence or not. But their experience is real. So, how should the church respond? I don’t know. We could open some serious conversations at least around our relation to the state, or to other Western icons such as war, materialism, technology and progress — all the stuff that we have lazily left unquestioned while cozying up with the larger culture. We could focus on prayer and breaking bread together — that’s always worked. We could tell them to love their enemies and forgive. Simplistic? Could be. Two years ago, Tamara Lich did that. It ended her up in jail. But that would put us in good company.’

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