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    Great Awakenings And Megachurches: A Study In Stark Contrasts

    Published: Thursday, March 12, 2020

    Download free computerized mp3 audio file of this column

    I have long maintained that America’s primary problem is not a political one but a pulpit one. If this is true, then the solution to America’s primary problem is not political but spiritual. But don’t expect most evangelicals to comprehend that.

    In the minds of most evangelicals, the antidote for America’s ailments is deposited at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. In this respect, evangelicals and political conservatives are not unlike religious and political liberals: Both groups look to Washington, D.C.—especially the White House—to solve America’s problems. The only difference between the two groups is the manner in which they believe the president should implement those solutions. But both groups believe the president is the one who must do it.

    And to many evangelicals, Donald Trump is much more than a president; he is a savior.

    All we are going to hear for the rest of this year from evangelical conservatives is the absolute necessity of re-electing Donald Trump. And all we are going to hear for the rest of this year from religious liberals is the necessity of stopping the re-election of Donald Trump.

    Not long ago, I delivered a message entitled Looking For Hope In All The Wrong Places. In this message, I tried to demonstrate the utter futility of evangelical Christians putting their hope in politicians—even “conservative” politicians—and especially in Donald Trump. Expecting politicians to accomplish what God has demanded is the duty of pastors and churches is a recipe for disaster and chaos—which are fitting words for what is happening in America right now.

    I’ll say it again: It is far more important who your pastor is than who your president is.

    But, obviously, most evangelicals do not agree with me on that. They will abandon a Bible-preaching, truth-telling pastor for rebuking a duplicitous and degenerate president in a millisecond—IF that president is a “conservative” Republican. The reason: They have placed their hope in a political office. 

    They would rather trust a lying president than an honest pastor.

    To the vast majority of evangelicals, politics is far more important than spiritual truth. I could even go so far as to say that to many evangelicals, politics (at least their version of it) IS spiritual truth.

    Contrast the modern evangelical movement with the great spiritual movements in early America.

    Two Great Awakenings

    From about 1720 to the mid-1800’s, Colonial America experienced two Great Awakenings. The result of these awakenings was nothing short of phenomenal.

    Multitudes of people were converted to Christ. There was great growth among the churches and spiritual renewal in Colonial communities. But there was much more: America’s colonists were given a great thirst for liberty and a great resolve to resist the forces of tyranny, which, of course, ultimately led to America’s secession from Great Britain and the establishment of a new constitutional republic.

    Beyond that, the Great Awakenings in early America (which themselves were largely the result of the Protestant Reformation in Europe) created the establishment of a ubiquitous Christian society.

    To say that America was established as a Christian nation is not technically correct. It was established by Christians (mostly) as a nation built upon the Natural Law principles taught in the Holy Scriptures and by theistic enlightenment scholars such as Grotius, Locke, Montesquieu, Pufendorf and Vattel—not to be confused with atheistic philosophers such as Hume, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Voltaire, et al.

    But it is absolutely correct to say that Colonial American society was, by an overwhelming degree, a Christian society. That fact is undeniable. And the reason it was a Christian society was due to the influence of the Colonial pulpits—NOT the politicians. 

    Benjamin Franklin wrote a pamphlet called Information to Those Who Would Remove to America. It was intended to be a guide for Europeans who were thinking of relocating in America. In it he said:

    Hence bad Examples to Youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable Consideration to Parents. To this may be truly added that serious Religion under its various Denominations is not only tolerated but respected and practiced.

    Atheism is unknown there, Infidelity rare & secret, so that Persons may live to a great Age in that Country without having their Piety shock’d by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel.

    And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his Approbation of the mutual Forbearance and Kindness with which the different Sects treat each other, by the remarkable Prosperity with which he has been pleased to favor the whole Country.

    The point is: The two Great Awakenings of Colonial America had a dynamic and pervasive positive influence upon American society.

    Unprecedented Church Growth in 20th- and 21st-Century America

    By any measuring stick, church growth during the last 125 years in America was unprecedented.

    Evangelical churches in America grew to over 300,000 in number, including hundreds of megachurches. Thousands of Christian radio and television programs saturated America from coast to coast. Thousands of Christian schools and colleges were started. Millions of Christian books were printed.

    But the overall spiritual influence of evangelical churches on American society has been nil.

    While evangelical churches saw unprecedented growth, the traditional family all but disintegrated. Sexual perversion became vogue. Our entertainment industries dropped into the toilet. Our major colleges and universities became hotbeds of atheism and whoredom. The morals, ethics and culture of the country sank into a garbage heap. Our political institutions became purveyors of socialism, war, a burgeoning police state, an Orwellian surveillance society, dishonesty, bribery, elitism, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    With the approbation of evangelicals, federal deficits and deficit spending (government theft) continues unabated under both Republican and Democrat administrations and congresses. Evangelicals are as quick to live off the public dole as are the unchurched. Evangelicals cheer for more and more foreign wars. Spiritual rhetoric notwithstanding, evangelicals on the whole are as dishonest, hateful, unethical and mean-spirited as unbelievers—sometimes more so.  

    All of this debauchery was mushrooming during the same time that evangelical churches were experiencing unprecedented growth.

    Top Ten Most Sinful States

    A travel industry website recently categorized the amount of sinful activity among the 50 states. After their research was concluded, they published their list of the top ten most sinful states. The following seven vices were examined: hate, jealousy, excesses, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.

    Here is the list in descending order:

    10.  Mississippi
      9.  South Carolina
      8.  Illinois
      7.  Louisiana
      6.  Tennessee
      5.  Georgia
      4.  California
      3.  Florida
      2.  Texas
      1.  Nevada

    Please notice that seven of the top ten most sinful states on this list are located in the Bible Belt, where evangelical churches dot almost every corner and most of the largest churches in the country are located.

    The point is: Unlike in Colonial America, the massive, unprecedented growth of evangelical churches over the last 125 years has had almost zero positive spiritual, moral and ethical influence on the country.

    Why do you think that is?

    I believe it is because too many evangelical pastors have traded the salty sermons demanded (and practiced) by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:13) for sugar-coated sermonettes (prosperity preaching and motivational monologues) of men such as Joel Osteen. 

    And, secondly, instead of promoting hope in God—which requires fidelity to His Word and to His truth—they have promoted hope in politics, especially Republican presidential politics.

    One Final Contrast

    Plus, there is one more glaring contrast between the religion of Colonial America and the religion of modern America: There was no Zionist State of Israel that the pastors and churches of Colonial America were trying to “bless”—while the vast majority of evangelical pastors and Christians over the last 70+ years have made blessing the atheist Zionist State of Israel a major tenet, if not the major tenet, of their faith.

    P.S. In my message last Sunday, I delved much more deeply into the subject of this column.

    I invite readers to watch it here.  

    © Chuck Baldwin

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