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Teetering on the Edge of the Great American Apostasy

Around the time that Joshua Harris declared his exit from Christianity last fall, it became clear that the apostasy of celebrity, “Big-Eva” (short for “Big Evangelicalism”) level figures was becoming somewhat of a trend. Over the following months a number of other prominent individuals also publicly threw the Christian towel in, citing various reasons, most having something to do with sexual ethics involving LGBT issues. Formally clean comedians Rhett and Link come to mind as specific examples, as their detailed journey of “deconstruction” was showcased for all to hear through their podcast, and caused a small surge of insecurity within the church as they sought to drag as many as they could with them. The movement was and remains clear: being a biblically minded Christian is not cool, it’s not helpful to advancing one’s career (particularly in the public sphere) and it’s starting to become downright socially unacceptable.

Most of this was centered on people we’d never met but were familiar with because of their ministries or media – that was until recently. The movement away from Christianity and its accompanying values has recently appeared to have shifted to a fever pitch speed into the realm of people you grew up with, have known for quite some time or even close intimate friends whose de-conversion and subsequent launch into blatantly anti-Christian lifestyles has taken you by surprise. Sure, there were always those who “fell away” or “walked off” over the last several decades that you may have known, but now it seems to be every week – someone you thought was a solid, biblically minded Christian person has revealed not only that they aren’t, but haven’t been for some time.
Enter “Big Eva” to save us. If we subtract those evangelical leaders who have already apostatized, we seem to be left mostly with a cadre of leaders who take their cues from the headlines rather than their Bible’s headings. This has quickly become the new cult of “cultural engagement,” where pastors and church leaders get in front of their flocks (or at least in front of a camera) to make spiritual sounding statements accompanied by tears and subsequent clapping that essentially amount to simple undermining of biblical ethics. Most of these statements lately have to do with how the church has “dropped the ball” on racism and how Sunday morning is the “most divided time in America.” Books and conference circuits highlighting the alleged legacy of hate, partiality and favoritism by the Church throughout US history have become some of the dominant mainstays of 21st century evangelical thought. Rather than celebrate a legacy of faithfulness to biblical fidelity, our collective Christian history is shamed and reviled. The subsequent result is that those already teetering on the edge of apostasy find an immediate reason to bail – not only are Christians bad now, but they themselves claim to have been that way for some time. In this way, many our most influential leaders are working against us – our own leaders spend the bulk of their time talking about how lousy Christians have been and continue to be – why would anyone ever want to join? Thankfully, there are some, albeit a few, number of notable exceptions to this rule.
There is a rising realization in the minds of many Christians as they look around their churches and scroll social media feeds: this is the beginning of something major. Many of us grew up or have at least been told for the years since we were saved that we are going to encounter persecution in our lives, perhaps brutally. What we didn’t realize until recently was that it very well may be at the hands of those who only 5 minutes ago claimed to be our compatriots – but now they’ve quickly become “comrades,” and do not consider us as such. What’s so remarkable about the hurried descent into apostasy for so many is that it wasn’t explanations of evolutionary rock layers, deconstructions of arguments for theism or even the classic, “God doesn’t exist because He’s mean” argument that did it – the throngs of the apostatized became convinced through a combination of different streams flowing into and out of them that Christians are bigoted, racist, mean “bad guys.” Indeed, many don’t even abandon Christianity altogether, their faith just becomes a bit “woker,” and the subsequent result is that those who are a bit less than woke become not fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but unrepentant, self-righteous hypocrites who don’t really understand Christ’s teachings. 

As mentioned above, this conclusion has been especially encouraged by Christian leaders themselves, so though there may be surprise, we should not be shocked. But when instead of Joshua Harris or some once prominent CCM artist, it’s one of our closest friends, one who we never in a million years expected to not abandon Christianity, and by proxy, us – suddenly we read Matthew 24:10 (
And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another) with a slightly different point of view. That’s the first – when one becomes two, and two becomes fifteen, an anxiety that bubbles up in our souls. We know that we could never abandon “so great a salvation,” but we begin to wonder: will we soon be alone.
Based on the rapid widespread abandonment of biblical Christianity, it’s logical to make a prediction: we are teetering on the edge of a great apostasy – not merely a change in personal values and beliefs that our society has traditionally held by majority, but a revolutionary movement toward secular paganism, fomented and inspired by Marxist thought. This will not only cost those of us who are truly Christians a multitude of friends, family and people who we looked up to and respected, but it will result in the complete breakdown of law, order and justice, as all three of those were founded in Christian ideas. Many of us have seen this coming for a long time – we just pictured more people standing next to us. There are no counter-movements coming to save us, no great political crusade to turn the tide. Those who run our society, from the high echelons of government to the local US Postal Service employees being hired have all been thoroughly medicated through media to listen only to what their social media apps and televisions tell them. The few dissenting voices are rapidly being shut down. We are at just about the end of the Christian part of this whole America thing. It would be perfectly reasonable to assume within months or even weeks, biblical Christianity (in its adherence to explicitly Christian sexual ethics, pro-life stance and unwillingness to condemn entire ethnic groups for sin they didn’t commit) will no longer enjoy any more legal protection, or even general standing. Is there any hope for those of us who are left? Here are some ideas of how we can approach the coming days and what we should have in mind.

1)      Give thanks to God because is so good. He has given so many of us in the United States material and social blessings far beyond what many Christians throughout history have experienced. We are reminded in Philippians 4 that the necessary antidote to anxiety (which has undoubtedly become a great pandemic in and of itself over the last few months) is thanksgiving: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” If you have food, clothing and a roof over your head, thank God for the ways He’s provided for you thus far, and pray for strength to continue to honor Him regardless of the cost.

2)      In 2 Peter 1, we’re reminded to “make (our) calling and election sure.” Take a good hard look at your walk and the trajectory of your sanctification – not to question your salvation, but to examine whether you’re developing the qualities that keep you “fruitful and effective” (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love). Things will not be getting easier. The pressure not only to conform to specific societal viewpoints will be second only to the pressure of joining in with sinful behavior, as we’ve seen so many fall to.

3)      In lieu of the mob inspired mass “cancellation” of countless individuals, books, movies, etc. – it would be highly beneficial for Christians (and really anyone who values history, literature and culture) to start gathering copies of books and other media that may very shortly be cancelled. Unfortunately, despite the widening of information that the internet has brought to humanity, the control of it by governments and tech companies means that some materials are actually more easily expunged – if there’s even a chance that it may get cancelled, get a copy.

4)      Start to make very deliberate preparations. How long will you be able to maintain your position at work or even in your community in general? Have you thought through how you’re going to respond when you’re called into the office to answer for something you posted online a few days ago, or even several years ago? How are you going to provide for your family if you are blacklisted and can’t get work? Do you need to move to a place where the cultural trajectory toward blatant anti-Christianity is at least slower? These are questions better asked sooner than later.
All indications are that the coming days will be very difficult to live through as a Christian. However, as with all trials, the opportunity for developing “steadfastness” and the increasing imminence of the hope of Heaven, as well as the camaraderie of fellowship with true brothers and sisters all provide the stamina needed to persevere. So keep persevering, keep praying, keep praising, keep learning and if you haven’t started, begin preparing.

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