Tuesday 6 October 2015

How to initiate a Christian revival - any new ideas?

Since I wrote Thought Prison back in 2011


I keep on emphasizing that a mass Christian revival in the West is the essential pre-requisite to fixing any of the major problems which afflict us and which will certainly lead to cultural annihilation (and - sans a Christian revival - good riddance, some would say) - in particular not so much saving the civilization of the West, but saving the souls.

(Including both Western souls, and also those souls under threat from the West by their immigration into the West, and by the projection of Western influence elsewhere in the world.)

Since modern Leftism is pre-immunization against so much of traditional Christianity - the old methods have lost and are losing effectiveness. This doesn't mean we should stop using them, but it is a fact they don't work so well - why not try adding some new tactics?

So - are there any novel ideas out there about how Christianity might get past the antibodies of the secular immune system?

(And be careful what you say and how you say it - don't give away anything which might aid the enemy. Put it 'Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it' - as Robert Frost once said.)


Hoyos said...

Not sure if this is enough of a spell but here goes...

Look to the revivals that had the most "sticking power", you know the ones I mean: revivals that didn't just spring up like the seed cast upon rock, if I remember the verse correctly, but reached deep into communities and institutions. It is my belief that these revivals stuck because they were some of the most human; sometimes we surrender prematurely to the enemy. "They have emotion and we have reason", no, we have both. You can't maintain an emotional pitch forever, that's what the mind is for. Jesus came to save and regenerate the whole man, his mind, his actions, his heart. He came to save individual men, no one repents for you, and as valued as your tribe may be, it cannot save you.

Nicholas Fulford said...

I will speak generically, and you can figure out whether or not what I am saying has any applicability.

One of the prime ailments - other than mutation load - of our age is a deficit of meaning. Oh there are lots of pleasurable things to do, but like so many pleasures there are hangovers. The hangover often takes the form of despondency, a lack of motivation, and a general malaise. Everyone is there own Sisyphus and each day the same old boulder gets pushed up the hill, and the same "rewards" are given. (It is almost like have a tasty food that with every morsel makes the eater more hungry and less fit.)

When a person is as parched for meaning as desert sand is for water is when they will respond to the opportunity to create and build meaning and begin to engage in challenging but meaningful work. They may have few muscles to begin the hard work right away, but just as a training regimen builds the body, so does participating with others of like mind in extending care to those who are suffering build commitment and a desire to do more. Seeing the first fruits of those labours is extremely motivating. It really is a matter of giving people an opportunity to make a difference, and when they see it, they will - despite any setbacks - become strong and kind.

There is an old Cherokee tale called, "The Two Wolves".

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice... "Let me tell you a story."

"I too, at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It's like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times. "

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But...the other wolf... ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing."

"Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather ?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

Many, if not most of us feed the wrong wolf most of the time. People need to rediscover the good wolf and start feeding it a healthy diet.

Al. said...

Is there any chance of a Christian revival without the help of the Holy Spirit? Shouldn't we start listening to the soft wind?

Matthew T said...

Pray, hope, and don't worry. It's all out of our hands, anyway.

GFC said...

I believe the fire will have to come and burn away Leftism before a mass revival will take place. It also appears the fire is on its way.

Unknown said...

are there any novel ideas out there about how Christianity might get past the antibodies of the secular immune system?

Pope Francis has been preaching innovative but realistic plans for months now. If you really want Christianity to revive in the West, the Catholic Church is your best bet.

Bruce Charlton said...

@T Maker - Could you be more specific, or provide a reference?

Anonymous said...

I'm largely in agreement with you that a Christian revival would make things better in the West. I'll be slightly pedantic in saying that it wouldn't so much 'fix' the problems as 'heal' them (Cameron wanted to 'fix' broken Britain and look where that has got us). The diagnosis is more important than the semantics though.

It is a life or death issue in that people die because there is not a revival, because there is a lack of social action as a result of the lack of revival. Few people are discussing the socio-economic aspects of a revival. Past revivals have always had knock-on influences with particular trades and causes. With an increase in Christians, some trades will be influenced (some positively and others negatively). So in the same way that St Paul made an enemy of the idol-makers in the book of Acts, there are many trades who oppose a Christian revival because they fear that they will lose their jobs, lose trade or else things will get worse for them personally as a result. You will find that almost all people almost immediately understand the term 'Christian revival'.

There are also many Christians who oppose a revival because they feel that it makes things worse for individuals (or else they simply do not like change (which is an understandable human trait)). This could be overcome through better communication as a level of unity would be important.

The pattern of revivals is that God tends to use the preachers or Christian leaders first.

In the Welsh revival, the papers had to take a stance on the issue. It would be the same today to an extent. So those who write or report on incidents related to revivals can either take a positive, neutral or negative stance towards a revival. As many people are effectively citizen-journalists, bloggers or social-media writers then an open-mind (or at least a less opposing stance) towards the phenomenon would be important.

Starting a revival is up to God and needs petition through prayer, but promoting or perpetuating it could be a decision of individuals.

A revival must firstly be love-based and also inclusive and so it must include those of all political persuasions.

I would suggest that perhaps governments are not fond of revivals because they involve great changes and that those who talk about them could make much of this fact because people are largely disillusioned with Government. I would suggest that the UK Government opposes a Christian revival.

There is a lack of communication within the church on the issue and a lot of misunderstanding. So communication would also be of extreme importance. But there is also a huge groundswell of support for a measured revival among Christians.

Beyond that, few of us have experienced a genuine revival, so it is hard to know quite what to expect. And if any of us knew exactly how to start one, I suppose we would have done so already.

Bruce B. said...

I don’t know if this counts as a revival plan but I keep thinking we, as Christians, should be more (publically) penitent about our sins. I mean real sins, not sins against leftism. I’m thinking of sexual sin in particular. That way the world knows we aren’t just picking on the promiscuous and homosexuals. That Christians have real principles and aren’t just judgemental hypocrites. It would require that we return to our previous understanding that the sex act shouldn’t be separated from its natural reproductive function (and within marriage, of course).

I think this could win some people over.

Albrecht said...

Rodney Stark's sociology-based study of the Christianization of the Roman Empire, The Rise of Christianity, is helpful here. One of his themes is that mercy, in the form of caring for the sick in times of plague or the rescuing and raising of abandoned infants, gave Christians a demographic edge that, compounded over time, became overwhelming. Combined with the survival value of other Christian virtues such as sobriety, thrift, diligence, etc. it begins to look like a fairly potent array of factors. I recall reading about one of the African nations where Christians were preferred for the civil service because they were assumed to be less corrupt. This, I believe, has been the case in some Muslim societies as well. As society deteriorates, such a reputation will stand Christians in good stead. This will require patience, another Christian virtue. And I would not worry about the enemy seeing "our" plans. He has seen it all and yet offers nothing but degradation and failure because he is blind and incapable of possessing "the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Albrecht - I know Stark's work.

But there are some big differences between then and now - then everyone had high fertility but this was negated by very high child mortality rates - Christians reduced the child death rates, and therefore grew.

Nowadays, mortality rates of children are very low for all groups - and therefore the analogous modern Christian response would be higher (significantly above replacement) fertility rates (birth rate) - which Christians are, in general, failing to do.

Also, early Christians were mostly a mutual aid society, among Christians - now many churches help non Christians more than (or instead of) Christians.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - Maybe we should do this anyway, but I personally don't think it would 'work' as a means of winning hearts and souls.

Think of the mockery of Jimmy Carter's comment about 'adultery in my heart'. I think it would simply be interpreted as what modern people (mis)call hypocrisy or would increase the vilification.

The venom directed from SJW-type Leftists against publicly-penitent Christian homosexuals is among the most vicious and extreme that I have seen on any subject.

Hoyos said...

@Bruce Charlton

On the treatment of penitent homosexuals, oh my yes. If you really want to see the mask come off on the left, there you go.

I may be wrong, but here goes... We need to preach the Gospel and then feed the sheep. If I had to pick one area that bothers me, it's the latter. RC Sproul said that we are full of baby Christians, but babies don't change the world. I don't want to overstate the case, and I want to be fair to my pastors and teachers over the years, but most of my own feeding as a sheep has come primarily from books or my parents, as opposed to the church proper. Billy Graham's revivals always had a partnership with local churches to make the process of conversion and discipleship as easy as possible.

I also may be wrong, but I strongly suspect that the strongest appeal to men of the current age may be God as Father. Regardless of what he says, their father is a liar remember, the modern man (male or female) is desperate to be told No. A loving, yet strict father is what most of them lack and so desperately need.

It may sound odd to connect this here, but I suspect that's why the character Phil Coulson on the tv show Agents of SHIELD is so popular. He's not a heart throb, he's not some kind of magic, he just comes off as a good father ( down to the dad jokes as well); caring and strict. Again you shouldn't ask a heathen what he wants, he's mired in ignorance and lies. You should watch what he moves toward.

Bruce B. said...

Yes, at best, we’d be seen as extreme prudes if not hypocrites by the world, the media.
But I am thinking of our interaction with individuals (e.g. my lesbian neighbors) which I suppose is how we should be evangelizing others –we will never win against the mass media which you correctly identify as the center-of-gravity of evil.
Maybe not a path to mass revival – but I think it could work with some individuals – one soul saved is better than none – “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Maybe the whole approach of trying for a mass revival is flawed.

ajb said...

One thing that has become more clear and seems more important to me over the last few years is that the standard view of evolution has very little empirical support.

I.e., the idea that random point-wise mutations somehow led to coordinated complexity like we see in mammals, say.

It's not that it's conceptually impossible (just as the ancient hypothesis that animals parts somehow randomly came together to form the animals we see isn't conceptually impossible), it's that we have very little empirical, robustly testable support for it.

(It seems for a lot of people the fact it's conceptually possible is enough for them - it's not enough for me.)

We are pretty sure that sometimes there are more or less random point mutations that don't get filtered out or fixed, but there seems little recognition of how *little* this actually says. The human body is very, very complex, with all sorts of coordinated systems.

Because I create very complex, coordinated systems that do some of the things animals do (as well as having done a little work in evolutionary programming) and so have some idea of what it takes to make certain kinds of changes in a complex organism, perhaps I have an advantage in appreciating what is being talked about.

The standard response is 'it's the best theory we have', but even if granted, that's not anywhere near saying it's likely true.

It seems the standard view of evolution is the (or one of the) lynchpin in the standard, secular worldview. If so, it's a very weak lynchpin.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - That is a very interesting idea - and I agree with you about the evidence e.g.


It would also explain the near hysteria with which the Origin of Species aspect of Darwinian theory (or 'macro-evolution') is defended - despite that Darwin's next book is so dangerous to the modern consensus (with its discussion of the evolution of and difference between races) that it has been all-but been airbrushed from history.


Perhaps the Origin of Species by natural selection is so vital to the modern consensus that it is necessary to take the risk that people might notice the speculative and much more robust role of natural selection in adaptation of men in different times and places.

So you may well be correct. If macro-evolution is revealed for the (mere!) metaphysical assumption it is, then maybe the keystone would be removed?


ted said...

I know this may be an odd suggestion, but I would like to see humor used more often. Why can't a Christian mock (with loving intention) the sheer pretentious and ridiculousness of the secular left? Why can't their be someone doing the same work and content quality as a John Stuart and Stephen Colbert (who apparently is a devout Catholic) but in service of the Truth? Could that even work?

Mercurius Aulicus said...

In regard to Nicholas Fulford and his apocryphal 2 wolves story. It actually originates from a Billy Graham book. See http://tithenai.tumblr.com/post/17655980732/the-history-of-the-two-wolvestwo-dogs-story

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks to all the commenters - I have found this thread very interesting and valuable.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Mercurius Aulicus, the provenance of this story does seem to be in question. It may or may not have its origins in North American Aboriginal stories, or it may have been penned by Billy Graham. There seems to be a lot of disagreement based on a few web searches. What is not in disagreement is the validity of the teaching. I am less concerned with its provenance than in the validity of its teaching.