Something interesting happened last week.
In summary: an ex UFC podcaster and an agnostic psychologist discussed the ‘truth of the Bible’ in a way that was more compelling, and more interesting, than you’ve likely heard from any contemporary religious adherents. To say it reached a large audience would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. The reaction video by a Christian commentator was then shared by the psychologist to his worldwide audience of millions.
But this seemingly unlikely scenario – prominent agnostic support of Christian doctrine – has become increasingly common lately. Why?
Put simply, because the established church has left a gap, and the world remains hungry for the truth.
This has never been more evident than in the trials of the last two years. During this season, much of the church has chosen government as god, and instead of being ‘the conscience of the state’, has become a tool of its compliance. Consider how much you have heard the leadership speak publicly in representation of God, versus in representation of government (oftentimes, at government’s specific request). Most leaders probably mean well, but their fear is palpable (and unbiblical) and the lack of discernment regrettable (to say the least)… which has ultimately left no measurable difference between the church and the rest of society. The established church has allowed the government, rather than God, to define what it means to ‘love one another’ whilst saying little of God’s love for us, and even less of our need to love the one true God.
What an opportunity missed.
But God does not miss opportunities, even if His people do. He will have His way with or without them.
This silence of the established church and its leaders has been growing, and hence created space for other voices to be heard – both passionate individuals of faith, and those of no faith at all who seem remarkably adept at prosecuting the case for Christian faith.
God knew it would work this way, of course.
37 As he was drawing near — already on the way down the Mount of Olives — the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40)
If God’s people refuse to speak, God will find a way to be spoken for – even if the rocks must do it for Him. It is not God who misses out – it is us who miss out on being spoken through. Further, if we have chosen silence through fear of man, then we have abandoned our post and risk the consequences of disobedience.
“For am I now seekinˆg the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
In this recent season, church leaders have fallen over each other to bow to Caesar over vaccine mandates and heartless, unscientific lockdowns while people have gone hungry and thirsty for the truth. They have sought the praise and comfort of man and abandoned many of the things of God. They have lambasted pushback movements as ‘anti-vaxxers’ and opined haughtily about those ‘conspiracy theorists’ marching for freedom to live any type of normal life. But on the streets with the ‘unclean’ are Christians loudly proclaiming Christ, as the established religious leaders cast judgments from a safe (social) distance.
Now, where have we seen this dynamic before: the religious establishment versus the unclean (and apparently unworthy)? Anyone who considers that Jesus would be found amongst the former group needs to re-read scripture. Anyone who understands scripture will not be surprised to know that Jesus is now being found by many in the latter group. While those doors of the physical church were closed to them, His heart was not and is not; the ninety-nine have been left to coordinate zoom meetings while He pursued the ones deemed unclean outside the walls.
This trend didn’t start with Covid, and it won’t end with Covid. To bastardise a Churchill quote, in the last decade or so the church saw a choice between cultural alignment and irrelevance; it chose cultural alignment and it now has irrelevance. But truth, however inconvenient, is always relevant. If the church is to regain any sense of moral authority, this next season will be one of humility, soul searching, apology to man and repentance to God and seeking after His truth. Only then will they have the ability to speak truth in a way that compels people to listen.
Regardless, God will be spoken for – if not by the church, then by agnostic podcasters, agnostic politicians, and agnostic YouTube rock stars crying out.