The next Great Awakening
As I am often at pains to point out, it is important to define terms and recognise other peoples’ perspectives. Today’s topic is a good example. If people think “Great Awakening” means something different to what I think or feel their perspective is overlooked, for example whether or not a Great Awakening (whatever it is) is desirable or is going to happen, then we could fall at the first hurdle.
So let me start with defining terms. While Wikipedia is hardly the obvious source for one of the two definitions I am going to discuss, it is a good starter for one of them, and one that often offers a different view to me: “The Great Awakening refers to a number of periods of religious revival in American Christian history. Historians and theologians identify three, or sometimes four, waves of increased religious enthusiasm between the early 18th century and the late 20th century. Each of these “Great Awakenings” was characterized by widespread revivals led by evangelical Protestant ministers, a sharp increase of interest in religion, a profound sense of conviction and redemption on the part of those affected, an increase in evangelical church membership, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations … The First Great Awakening began in the 1730s and lasted to about 1740, though pockets of revivalism had occurred in years prior, especially amongst the ministry of Solomon Stoddard, Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather. Edwards’ congregation was involved in a revival later called the “Frontier Revivals” in the mid-1730s, though this was on the wane by 1737. But as American religious historian Sydney E. Ahlstrom noted, the Great Awakening “was still to come, ushered in by the Grand Itinerant”, the British evangelist George Whitefield … The Second Great Awakening (sometimes known simply as “the Great Awakening”) was a religious revival that occurred in the United States beginning in the late eighteenth century and lasting until the middle of the nineteenth century … The Third Great Awakening in the 1850s–1900s was characterized by new denominations, active missionary work, Chautauquas, and the Social Gospel approach to social issues. The YMCA (founded in 1844) played a major role in fostering revivals in the cities in the 1858 Awakening and after. The revival of 1858 produced the leadership, such as that of Dwight L. Moody, out of which came religious work carried on in the armies during the civil war … The Fourth Great Awakening is a debated concept that has not received the acceptance of the first three. Advocates such as economist Robert Fogel say it happened in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Jesus Movement is one evidence of this awakening, and it created a shift in church music styles”.
A lot more could be said on the subject of course, including introducing British perspectives and spiritual revivals such as the Welsh (1904-5) and Hebrides (1949-52) revivals, as well those as in other countries outside of the USA, but for the purpose of this discussion we will go with Wikipedia as far as defining one of the meanings. There are considerations like the role of the sovereign Holy Spirit and that of prevailing prayer, and while revival radically transforms communities at the time, sometimes this seems to have been short lived. I also declare an interest, given that in times past I have read with interest accounts of these earlier revivals, and it left me thinking, starting with: Lord do so again! There is a growing number on my own theological wavelength that think we are in for another, and even greater, Great Awakening (of the spiritual kind where people come into God’s Kingdom) and some think it will overlap with an awakening that is less to do with spiritual revival and more with overturning what they see as an evil system that wants to and is imposing itself on the world, once referred to as the New World Order, and these days referred to as the Great Reset, something I have discussed in some of my earlier writings. For example (see here and here), I reflect on the possibility of two quite different great resets when it comes to this world’s affairs, and ponder whether it be the good or the bad version that we will see.
I write on the day that it was announced that the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, when once it appeared they were defeated. The dust is far from settling and neither is the human tragedy and the political repercussions, particularly the USA and the Biden Administration. Not just here but events are moving at a rapid pace on the world stage and, not only is it hard to keep up with what is going on, but accurate reporting on what is happening through the channels we once relied on is less and less the case. Which brings me to the second definition of the Great Awakening, which I note people of different spiritual outlooks and political persuasions are coming out with. It goes along the lines (or at least many of the elements) that the picture of world that is presented by an assortment of politicians, mainstream media, “Big Tech” and the “experts” that have their backing is not only not what they say but often the opposite. The two most significant aspects of the bigger picture that I have written a lot on are: the great US Election steal and, the longer we wait for redress, news of other steals in other countries and assorted wickedness by perpetrators of the steal and their allies, and all sorts of nefarious things to do with the Corona pan(scam)demic. Reporting not only misrepresents and avoids issues by the players mentioned in the sentence earlier but the conspiracy theorists who challenge the official narrative are increasingly being shown to be conspiracy truthers and, more to the point, while the public in general is dumbed down, ordinary people are starting to wake up to what really is going on and are part of an uprising (mainly peaceful), evidenced by demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience all over the world, including the one I attend Saturday (see here). Arguably, we are seeing, in human terms at least, although a surprising number recognise God is the key player even if not orthodox Christians, one form of a Great Awakening.
One friend has suggested that by considering two different types of Great Awakening, side by side, one resonating with Christian enthusiasts and the other more with those hoping for a systemic revolution and often latched onto by new age, syncretistic, Gnostic types, it is like comparing apples and pears. When considering in terms of what is coming to pass, it can be one or the other or neither or both. I can (I think) understand the rationale of proponents and detractors of all views. While a spiritual awakening should be the desire of all right thinking Christians, if and when it happens is in the Lord’s hands and the best we can do is to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. While the world is an evil place (although how and where the evil actually manifests may be a matter of conjecture, for much we do not know); if humans are involved we could end up with replacing one evil with another, but then if we pray “Thy will be done” then inaction is just as unbiblical as faulty reaction. While I cannot say for sure which scenario is the one that will play out and am fully sold on an end times scenario dominated by the Antichrist in Revelations 6 to 19, I am mindful even the most pious, learned, sincere and sound Christian is prone to deception or not getting all that is relevant and necessary, something I have sometimes lamented, written about, and it is as Jesus predicted. I write here as I see it, watching on the wall, looking to be corrected by others and of course the Lord, confident He is in complete control.
I offer therefore, two definitions, sacred and secular, with what I see a surprising overlap, asking is it going to happen and is it desirable? One of my interests is Bible prophecy and I touch on this subject and the role of modern-day prophets in my recent book: Prophets of the Bible – available in paper book form and as a free electronic download. Not only are people waking up as to what is really going on in the world and, if some of the more vocal voices are to believed, the “white hats” are about to inflict a big set back on the dastardly plans and intentions of “black hats”, who have been largely responsible for things like Satanic linked child trafficking, siphoning off the world’s wealth, imposing the “Babylon” system, and deceiving, depopulating and enslaving those not part of the tiny elite. Not only are people waking up to some of this; not only is defeating evil desirable; not only is it already happening – but people are turning to Jesus. While deceivers of all sorts and deception from many sources are an ever-present danger, we must not get carried away and should stand firm and calm. So much is coming out, offering all sorts of perspectives, such as the erosion of liberties over Covid-19 jabs: Lawyers For Liberty With Kate Shemirani, Anna De Buisseret & Charlie Ward.
While these are days of testing and it can be heavy going at times, especially when it looks as the bad guys are winning and dissenting voices are shut up, they are also exciting because we are seeing things our forefathers could not have imagined and a chance to play a part in the cause of right and truth. For those who know the truth (Jesus is the Truth that sets us free) it is time to be right with God, trust Him and as people become alarmed as the truth does come out, we help point people to the one who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. I have little doubt we are about to see a Great Awakening (on both scores), yet evil will continue because that is what happens when people do not repent and turn to God and, besides that is the end time scenario depicted in the Book of Revelation. If many of today’s political prophets are to be believed, there will be a period of justice and respite, with President Trump as a modern day Cyrus, along with spiritual revival. I pray there will be (in Wikipedia terms) a fifth Great Awakening, which is worldwide and greater than all the great awakenings that went on before.