My next book, currently in the publishing process, has Great Awakening in the title. Those familiar with Western Christian history know that phrase refers to two periods of spiritual renewal and the spread of Evangelical Christianity in America and England. I believe we are in a third period of great awakening, thus the inspiration for the book. I loved being able to lay out my red pill journey which has also happened to millions of people since Trump came on the scene in 2015. If you are not familiar with the term red pill, watch this short clip from the 1999 hit movie The Matrix with Keanu Reeves and you’ll understand why the phrase is so apropos for our times. If you’ve never seen it or it’s been a while, I encourage you to watch it. The dialogue is nothing short of prophetic. Morpheus ends telling Neo, Reeve’s character, “All I’m offering is nothing more than the truth, nothing more.” This revealing of truth has been happening in the Western world for more than ten years and preceding Trump, who just happened to be the very unlikely man God used to trigger untold millions to their own red pill journeys to truth.

What Brought Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Christ
First, I was surprise this confirmed atheist had become a Christian, but reading her testimony, “Why I am now a Christian,” I was doubly blown away by her confirmation of the main thesis of my book. God is doing something amazing, something revealing, in our time amid all the chaos and suffering. In fact, all the turmoil and misery is allowing many people’s eyes to be opened, and not just to spiritual realities, although they are all connected to God. We pray they eventually embrace Jesus as the only one who can make sense of it all. Unfortunately, human beings must often endure suffering (physical, mental, emotional, relational, financial) to realize the truth of things beyond their own parochial interests.

Ayaan is an example of someone who didn’t become a Christian merely to go to heaven when she dies, although that was a significant motivation for her embracing Christ. If going to heaven when we die, and personal holiness, both of infinite importance, are all Christianity is, then it is a terribly impoverished and truncated view our transformational faith. I don’t think such a narrow kind of Christianity would have persuaded her of its truth. Rather, it was the magnificent breadth of what salvation from sin means in Christianity that grabbed her in spite of herself. She saw that it affects everything, spiritual, material, personal, cultural, societal, political, every single thing. What her story displays is the power of Christianity to transform not only individual lives, but lives lived in community as nations. This is why Jesus commanded the eleven disciples to “make disciple of all nations,” not just individuals.

Who exactly is Ayaan Hirsi Ali? In case you don’t know of her, she describes herself as a, “Human Rights Activist & Author.” She grew up Muslim and, as she explains in the piece, got serious about her faith in 1985. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 shattered her Islamic worldview, and in due course she embraced the New Atheist kind of atheism, although she was not an arrogant blowhard like many of the New Atheists were. She was in the Dutch Parliament for a few years, and eventually moved to the United States and became a US citizen. In addition to being widely published in the media and an author, she has been employed by several conservative think tanks where she consistently defended Western civilization. 

When I saw the headline that she had become a Christian, I was very pleasantly shocked. I have what I call a “heathen prayer list” I pray over weekly. It has on it well-known atheists and non-Christians, among others, who God has placed on my heart to lift weekly before the throne of grace. Ayaan was not on the list, but her conversion gives me hope that my prayers are not uttered in vain. Here is what drove her to Christianity:

Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.

We endeavour to fend off these threats with modern, secular tools . . . But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that “God is dead!” seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in “the rules-based liberal international order”. The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition. 

She then contends everything we value in modern Western society came from Christianity, citing Tom Holland’s wonderful book, Dominion. She adds:

Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realisation that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?

The Poverty of Atheism
Her final sentence understates the fundamental problem of atheism and the materialist (matter is all that exists) worldview: Atheism cannot answer any questions—not one. The only possible answer atheists can give for why anything is, is, just because. That’s it. Atheists have no idea, and cannot argue persuasively or logically, why anything happens or the way it happens. As I often say, if all we are is lucky dirt, mere matter in motion, then chance is the only explanation for everything. Atheists will often fall back on the “evolution of the gaps” argument. It is remarkable what they believe matter without purpose can do, what it can supposedly accomplish. When you read or hear them say evolution or natural selection does such and such, just put in the word God and the meaning is exactly the same. Only God doing or causing something is a far more plausible explanation because, well, he’s God! Biblical theism maintains God is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator and sustainer of the world, of all material reality. God has explanatory power, atheism by contrast has none, as Ayaan discovered.

We can expose the poverty of atheistic materialism on many levels. But before I briefly mention a few, it is important for those of us who want to defend the veracity of the Christian faith in a secular age that we understand everybody has a worldview, an understanding of the meaning of reality based on faith. In other words—everyone is religious. Everyone lives by faith regardless of if they practice something we would recognize as a “religion.” The question is, what do we have faith in, what do we trust, and is it justified true belief. The best we can get in this life is beyond-a-reasonable doubt faith (a very good reason to exercise humility toward people who do not share our faith), and Christianity is the only one that can get us there.

It is also imperative if we’re to effectively defend Christianity’s truth claims to know that for three hundred years starting in the so-called Enlightenment, and the resultant growth of secularism, Christianity has been on the defensive. Christians have done an admirable job in defense, but somewhere along the way the idea was accepted that Christians must defend their worldview and faith, while the atheist secularist skeptical sorts do not have that obligation. That became the default position in the secular nirvana of the modern age. There is, however, no default position that doesn’t require a defense. Every faith makes claims, and those claims need to be defended if people are to believe them. I used the phrase explanatory power above, which means the persuasive power of an explanation for something. In this case the question before us (and one we should ask ourselves, loved ones, and friends every single day) is what best explains reality, and everything in it. The materialist atheists are the ones who should be on the defensive because they have to defend the indefensible.

How does, for example, matter and chance explain morality, right and wrong, good and evil? It can’t; they just are. Where do these phenomena come from, these things that are deep within every human being? The only answer is that they don’t come from anywhere, they just are. We have to suck it up, deal with them the best we can, and move on. Or take meaning and purpose in life, what Ayaan calls a “simple question.” Mere matter and chance can give no answers to that, as she discovered. The only solution the atheist materialist can give is, make your own meaning and purpose and hope it’s enough. That doesn’t seem to be working well for the almost 50,000 people last year who killed themselves, and many more who likely tried. How about beauty? Chance doesn’t really satisfy as an explanation. Just compare a Jackson Pollack “painting” to a Rembrandt. It is difficult to call paint randomly thrown on a canvas beautiful, while the great Dutch genius Rembrandt’s work is breathtakingly beautiful. It leaves one in awe.

The Necessity of an Optimistic Eschatology
What Ayaan understood, and what attracted her to Christianity, is that she sees it as a totalizing life and worldview, as is every life and worldview. I recently wrote here, and often talk about, the myth of neutrality. When secularism came to dominant the once Christian West in recent decades, there was nothing to stand in the way of the dissolution brought about by the new paganism. Whatever worldview rules America and the West, it will have specific answers to ultimate questions just as Christianity has, including about meaning, morality, truth, justice, why we are here, and so on. In addition, and this is what Ayaan saw with her own eyes and experience, every worldview that informs a society and culture has consequences. If that isn’t Christianity, the results will not be good, as we see all around us.

What Christianity brings to the societal table is the truth about the why of everything. It gives us the big picture answers and promises of God revealed in creation, Scripture, and Christ. Many conservatives think something called natural law and a vague theistic religiosity is enough to provide the foundational supports for civilization, but that won’t work. As Ayaan discovered, every blessing of the modern world came as a result of Christianity, and it can only be saved by Christianity. This won’t happen, however, without an eschatology of hope. Such a view of “end times” (i.e., eschatology) is only available on the view that Jesus came to win, to bring the kingdom of God to earth. The “end times,” or last days in biblical terms, started when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God. 

Every Christian wants their faith to influence the culture, to bring righteousness and justice and peace, but few think it’s possible because they don’t have the theological framework that says such a thing can happen. I was one of these Christians not too long ago. I expected everything would inevitably get worse, then Jesus would return to save the day. Needless to say that’s not the best mindset for winning culture wars or political battles, both inevitable living life in a fallen world among fallen people in fallen societies. We are told throughout Scripture that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and that Christianity will ultimately win in this world. This is not wishful thinking, but biblical affirmation. The Apostle Paul says this clearly in I Corinthians 15:25 that, “Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Paul also said Jesus did this, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” Col. 2:15. He also tells us that Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” Eph. 1:21. This is no pipe dream, but what God intended when he sent his Son to earth to strike the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15) and redeem His creation. 

Such an eschatology of hope, what is called postmillennialism, is in my humble opinion, required if we are going to daily engage the battles for the soul of Christian Western civilization.


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