Între „marea trezire” și „marele declin”

Abandoned Desert Church

Creștinismul este în impas. După două milenii, religia care a schimbat fața pământului își regăsește cu dificultăți cadența și forța. Impactul asupra lumii civilizate este tot mai scăzut, iar plecările masive din biserici sunt consecința firească a acestei stări de fapt.

Cândva, în timpuri tulburi, creștinismul era în creștere. Acum, sub efectul libertăților nelimitate, cunoaște un recul pe care nu l-a mai experimentat în îndelungata sa istorie. Secularizarea i-a dat lovituri repetate, însă nu aceasta este singura cauză a crizei actuale. Problemele de ordin intern au jucat un rol determinant în crearea unei stări de neîncredere față de instituția bisericii. Drept urmare, formalismul (acolo unde creștinismul supraviețuiește) sau hemoragia (acolo unde acesta suferă pierderi imense) au devenit emblemele unei religii căreia, cu ani în urmă, Voltaire îi anticipa deja decesul. Să fi avut filosoful francez dreptate?

Noua față a Americii – Deja în 2013 situația era gravă, fapt descris într-o manieră mai mult decât sugestivă de jurnaliștii de la RNS: „Importanța religiei în viața oamenilor? Scăzută. Prezența la Biserică? Scăzută. Oamenii care afirmă ca nu au nicio religie? Crescută. Rezultatul: 2013 a înregistrat cel mai scăzut nivel de religiozitate de când facem aceste măsurători”.

Mai precis, spun aceeași jurnaliști, dacă perioada anilor 1950 ar putea fi numită „Marea Trezire”, începutul mileniului al treilea poate fi etichetat ca „Marele Declin”. „The Great Awakening” este, de fapt, o denumire generică pentru o suită de revitalizări religioase pe care mediul american le-a cunoscut în istoria ei. Prima a avut loc în secolul XVIII și i-a avut ca principali artizani pe renumiții Jonathan Edwards sau George Whitefield.

Au urmat apoi alte treziri religioase succesive. După al Doilea Război Mondial a fost înregistrată o explozie a mișcărilor charismatice care au acționat în contrapondere cu ramurile principale ale confesiunilor protestante. Astfel, anii 1950 au fost marcați de o creștere rapidă a fenomenului neoprotestant, pe fondul unor lupte teologice intense. Creștinismul american s-a întărit, devenind solid și din punct de vedere politic. În momentul de față, SUA s-a schimbat la față, dar nu în bine.

Dacă bisericile și-au pierdut relevanța și capacitatea de a oferi răspunsuri profunde la probleme actuale, poate că a sosit momentul unor strategii de schimbare nu doar a oamenilor, ci și a bisericilor. Reacția defensivă a celor din urmă (o variantă prea des adoptată), ar trebui să facă loc uneia de autoevaluare și de repoziționare. Iar în această privință, nu o pierdere de identitate este soluția, ci o întoarcere la origini, adică chiar la ceea ce imprimase odată forță creștinismului. La aceasta face referire Corne Bekker, profesor la Regent University, care intervievat de CBN, nu întrevede decât o singură soluție: „Avem nevoie să readucem Biblia în centrul a tot ceea ce facem”. Iar aceasta nu pentru a introduce un nou obicei expus formalismului, ci pentru ca „Biserica să devină un loc de speranță”.

Citeste mai mult aici – http://semneletimpului.ro/religie/crestinism/intre-marea-trezire-si-marele-declin.html

Martyn Lloyd Jones documentary on George Whitefield- England’s open air preacher, friend of Wesley

Fourteen minute documentary, narrated by Martyn Lloyd Jones:

George Whitefield –  (1714-1770), Methodist  Evangelist, among first to ignite Great Awakening in England’s 18th century

George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England. The youngest of seven children, he was born in the Bell Inn where his father, Thomas, was a wine merchant and innkeeper. His father died when George was two and his widowed mother Elizabeth struggled to provide for her family. Because he thought he would never make much use of his education, at about age 15 George persuaded his mother to let him leave school and work in the inn. However, sitting up late at night, George became a diligent student of the Bible. A visit to his Mother by an Oxford student who worked his way through college encouraged George to pursue a university education. He returned to grammar school to finish his preparation to enter Oxford, losing only about one year of school.

In 1732 at age 17, George entered Pembroke College at Oxford. He was

Whitefield preached in open air

gradually drawn into a group called the „Holy Club” where he met John and Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley loaned him the book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. The reading of this book, after a long and painful struggle which even affected him physically, finally resulted in George’s conversion in 1735. He said many years later: „I know the place…. Whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to the spot where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me and gave me the new birth.”

Forced to leave school because of poor health, George returned home for nine months of recuperation. Far from idle, his activity attracted the attention of the bishop of Gloucester, who ordained Whitefield as a deacon, and later as a priest, in the Church of England. Whitefield finished his degree at Oxford and on June 20, 1736, Bishop Benson ordained him. The Bishop, placing his hands upon George’s head, resulted in George’s later declaration that „My heart was melted down and I offered my whole spirit, soul, and body to the service of God’s sanctuary.”

Whitefield was an astounding preacher from the beginning. Though he was slender in build, he stormed in the pulpit as if he were a giant. Within a year it was said that „his voice startled England like a trumpet blast.” At a time when London had a population of less than 700,000, he could hold spellbound 20,000 people at a time at Moorfields and Kennington Common. For thirty-four years his preaching resounded throughout England and America. In his preaching ministry he crossed the Atlantic thirteen times and became known as the ‘apostle of the British empire.’

Click to read

He was a firm Calvinist in his theology (but retained a deep friendship with John Wesley, none the less)yet unrivaled as an aggressive evangelist. Though a clergyman of the Church of England, he cooperated with and had a profound impact on people and churches of many traditions, including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists. Whitefield, along with the Wesleys, inspired the movement that became known as the Methodists. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, an average of 500 a year or ten a week. Many of them were given over and over again. Fewer than 90 have survived in any form. (VIA). Click here – If you would like to read more on Whitefield.

George Whitefield’s impact in the U.S.A.

English evangelist, prominent figure in America’s Great Awakening, was born in Gloucester, England to an innkeeper’s family.  The family’s limited means led a family friend to step forward to provide Whitefield enough money to begin his education at Oxford University’s Pembroke College.  There Whitefield came into contact with a small band of pious students lampooned by their fellows as the “Holy Club.”  He was greatly influenced by the group’s leader, John Wesley, and eventually underwent a profound religious awakening that convinced him of his need to reach others with the necessity of the New Birth.  Although he would stay on friendly and supportive terms with Wesley, Whitefield remained a Calvinist on such issues as free will and predestination.

In 1737 he was ordained a preaching deacon in the Church of England and immediately took to the road as an itinerant evangelist.  What was particularly new about his methods was that he opted for preaching outside of ecclesiastical settings in the open air in town and countryside.  Another innovation was his effective use of newspapers, leaflets, and pamphlets to stimulate interest in his arrival.  And, unlike the clergy in the Anglican Church, Whitefield preached without the benefit of notes, believing that extemporaneous discourse made one more open to the Spirit’s promptings and was closer in preaching style to that used by the biblical prophets and apostles.  Observers marveled at his dramatic style and rhetorical flourish: the famous English actor David Garrick is reported to have exclaimed that he “would give a hundred guineas” if he could only “say ‘oh!’ like Mr. Whitefield.”

Whitefield took his first trip to America in 1738 and there founded his famed orphanage, “Bethesda,” just outside Savannah, Georgia–subsequent preaching tours would all raise funds for this enterprise over the years.  Whitefield’s second American preaching tour of 1739-1741 was a smash success, gaining strength as he travelled from the South northwards through Philadelphia.  As he toured the towns and cities of New England in 1740 he reaped the benefits of generations of Puritan preaching and Jonathan Edwards‘ recent revivals.  Crowds estimated at ten, twenty, and more thousand flocked from all over New England to hear him preach.

Over the next thirty years Whitefield made five more trips to America, as well as numerous excursions through the English countryside and into Wales and Scotland.  By the time of his death in 1770 Whitefield could be credited with establishing evangelical Protestantism on both sides of the Atlantic through the thousands of souls who experienced the “New Birth” under his preaching, and the legion of preachers he inspired to follow in his footsteps. (VIA)

see also

Persecution is coming to America – Paul Washer

Thanks to Gabi Bogdan for yet another important video.

Having been born in Romania and living my first 9 years under communism, I have seen some form of religious persecution. But, it wasn’t until I read about another Romanian – RIchard Wurmbrand and listened to dozens of testimonies from Romanian torturers and army personnel recount their tales of torture and persecution at their own hands that I realized how badly some had suffered (even unto death) under persecution. And, as I read the daily emails from my persecution watch sites and see how many christians are suffering, even unto death, across the globe that it seems almost arrogant for us in America to think that we will or that we even should escape persecution. Jesus told us we would count the cost when we follow Him and that we would have tribulation just as He did. May God strengthen us to be faithful and prepare and trust in Him as our world slips into it’s own brand of morality and intolerance of anything other than their way.

PAUL WASHER:

The church in America is going to suffer so terribly… and we laugh now, but, they will come after us, they will come after our children, they will close the net around us while we are playing soccer mom and soccer dad, while we argue over so many little things and are mesmerized by so many trinkets. The net, even now is closing around you, your children and your grandchildren and it does not cause you to fear.

You will be isolated from society, as has already happened. Anyone who tries to run for office, who actually believes the Bible will be considered a lunatic until finally we are silenced. We will be called things that are not and persecuted not for being followers of Christ, but, for being radical fundamentalist who do not know the truth of Christ which of course is love and tolerance. You’ll go down as the greatest bigots and haters of mankind in history.

They’ve already come after your children, and for most of you they got them. They got them through the public schools and indoctrination in the university and you wonder why your children come out not serving the Lord. It’s because you fed them right into the devil’s mouth. So, little by little the net is closing and then it’s not so little by little. Look how fast things are going down just in a matter of weeks., a matter of weeks.

But, at the same time know this: Persecution is always meant for evil; God always means it for good. And, is it not better to suffer n this life, to have an extra weight of glory in heaven?

You must settle this in your mind; this is the one thing I want to say over and over. Do not believe… down through history you have a wrong idea of martyrdom and persecution. You think that these men were persecuted and martyred for their sincere faith in Jesus Christ. That was the real reason, but no one heard that publicly. They were martyred and they were persecuted as enemies of the state, as child molesters, as bigots, as narrow minded, stupid people who had fallen for a ruse and can contribute nothing to society.

Your suffering will not be noble. So your mind must be filled with the word of God when all people persecute you and turn on you. And when the Spirit of God and common grace pull back and you see even your children and your grandchildren tossing in the lop you should die. This is no game. You want revival and awakening, but know this: For the most part, great awakenings have come only preceding great national catastrophes or the persecution of the church.

I believe God is bringing a great awakening, but, I believe that He is raising up young men who are strong and trust in the providence of God, to be able to wade through the hell that’s going to break loose on us. And, it will be on us before we even recognize it, unless, unless in God’s providence He is not done… He is not done. Note, this is not silly talk. Aside from great awakening, these things are going to come upon you. Be ready to lose your homes, your cars, everything.

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