Reflections on this year, and the time we have left.
By J. Jeff Toler, for Shenandoah Christian Alliance
At this point in time, a total of 87 email essays under the title of “Understanding the Times” have been delivered to Shenandoah Christian Alliance subscribers since May 2020. For these readers, we are deeply grateful. These essays have averaged more than 900 words each. That would mean to date, more than 80,500 words have been written about how we might understand the times we are living in. After more than 20 months it would seem the subject of cultural meltdown is inexhaustible. I am beginning to wonder: “What’s next?”
Originally, “Understanding the Times” was launched for the purpose of increasing awareness of the major issues dividing America, and to persuade more Christians to vote, and vote biblically. Some reports put the estimate at around 40% of Evangelicals were not even registered to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Surprisingly, as much as 18% of those who did vote, put their trust in a Democrat presidency, even though that party endorses and supports late-term abortions, homosexuality, gender reassignments, and schismatic critical theories. Never mind open borders, runaway debt, and a weak military among the many other provably unchristian beliefs.
It is truly astonishing to see how brazen, contemptuous, and tyrannical the politically correct have become.
Regardless, it seems a growing number of people are experiencing voter’s remorse, assuming poll numbers are anything by which to gauge. If Mr. Biden in 2020 received the largest number of votes in the history of America, how is it his popularity has now dipped into the thirty percentiles? It’s more than possible that there are two major components in the situation, that for America, and by extension, the rest of the world, is the result of (1) blatant incompetency, and (2) disgraceful venality. Are such men so convinced they can prevail in spite of such a disastrous performance, that this won’t ultimately obviate a seriously negative reaction among clear-thinking people? In plain language, do such men think we are that weak and ignorant?
The purpose for continuing these emails after the 2020 election after the winners were declared is this: Christians, particularly evangelical Christians as polls show, are not fully persuaded that Marxist/socialist ideology is at its core, utterly antithetical to an orthodox Christian world view. Perhaps one way is to inform, educate, and inspire pastors and Christian leaders through persuasive rhetoric, that cultural Marxism is the enemy of Christendom.
“Aristotle, a Classical Greek scientist and philosopher, is among the most important thinkers in the development of Western thought. In the treatise Rhetoric, we see Aristotle’s keen intellect applied to the art of persuasion.” (From BFW Advertising)
Persuasive rhetoric employs three modes of persuasion:
Logos—the argument itself; Ethos—trusting the presenter; Pathos—the emotional investment in the argument
Perhaps 30-odd years inside in-house marketing departments, writing ad copy and press releases may have been the fertile seed bed for my developing persuasive rhetoric. Who can say? Regardless, I am now asking, while paraphrasing Francis Schaffer, “How now do we resist?” In other words, it’s one thing to understand what is corrupting our culture, and quite another to respond. I believe we should have as believers, the capacity to apprehend the notion that mere understanding, without resolute action is akin to the admonition the Apostle James gives us: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26 ESV)
This thought has been in my mind for many months now: that the time for a movement by God through his people is about to happen. Just this past Monday, I heard this very feeling expressed by Ken Fish of Orbis Ministries on The Eric Mataxas Show. But how? We must engage. (Please listen: pick it up at 40:14 mark)
So where, and when, do we begin?
“When you know yourself and your opponent, you will win every time. When you know yourself but not your opponent, you will win one and lose one. However, when you do not know yourself or your opponent, you will be imperiled every time.” —Lao Tzu, “The Art of War”
Should believers think in such military combat terms? It’s debatable. But neither should we just ignore altogether the instruction such thinking provides. If we are to be wise as serpents, as Jesus requires of us, we should definitely know our enemy, and certainly his tactics. How we respond is really the issue here.
Satan’s power and abilities are limited, so he uses the power of deception—as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden. In our world today, Satan’s plan has not changed. He beguiles people who are receptive because of their selfish desire, and pride, and now political correctness.
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (1 Timothy 2:13–14) Does that verse bother some of us? It shouldn’t. Adam was not let off the hook, and it’s not a strike on women.
We should know the enemy well enough to be able to see he has no power to stop the truth. The only caveat to that is: only if we, The Church, are relentless in our speaking the truth whenever and wherever we are called. So, we must engage this coming year, if we haven’t already begun.
This new year that is now upon us can be either more of the same wicked ideology used to destroy us, our children, our congregations, and our communities, or it might usher in a renewal, even a revival. After all, that’s already happening everywhere else in the world, if you haven’t been paying attention.
The Church, you, me—all of us, only need to network, communicate, and encourage one another. Our enemy has been very effective at this for decades. The people and resources are already in place—from coast to coast, north to south. In the months ahead, I will be providing the information for these very people and resources, with ideas on how to utilize them for the mission before us: be the victors that we should know we already are. Until then…
May God richly bless you and your household in 2022.