What is the spirit behind Occupy America? Where is it headed?
When I first began writing for The Forerunner in 1989, one of my first articles was based on a conversation I had with Eastern Bloc missionary Jim Gilbert. It was called, The Coming Transformation of the USSR. It described the situation 22 years ago.
“We have an open door and yet few people are aware of it. American Christians are so used to thinking of the Soviet Union as an evil power that is going to invade Israel, that most do not believe a total turn around is possible. Instead of reading the latest prophecy book about Mikhail Gorbachev being in league with the antichrist and wondering what that birthmark on his forehead really means, we should be mobilizing to invade the Soviet Union with the gospel.”
The September 1989 issue of The Forerunner.
Jim Gilbert went on to predict that the Soviet Union would collapse and would be divided into sovereign republics. We even published a map showing what we thought the former Soviet Union would look like within ten years. Little did we know this would become a reality by December 31st, 1991 when Gorbachev dissolved the Soviet Union. This may seem unremarkable now 20 years later, but I do not know of any other nationally distributed publication that made this prediction.
This description by Gilbert is similar to how many Christians view the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. They see a dangerous antichrist spirit behind these phenomena. In part, this view is due to a faulty eschatology of defeat. In reality, the masses taking to the streets in this hour world-wide is due to a God-given impulse in people who are crying out for something they do not fully understand. They sense injustice and an open door to grasp at liberty. What some will discover is that true liberty is only “where the spirit of the Lord is” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
I wrote another article a few years after I had taken several missions trips to Russia and Ukraine. It was called The Puritan Hope in a Post Cold War Era. I wrote about how many evangelistic efforts in the former USSR were missing the opportunity to make a generational impact.
When Russian youth flock to evangelistic campaigns held by Western missionaries, they are introduced to a “personal savior” and a promise of reaching heaven. What they came for instead was an answer to their personal economic woes. They gladly embrace the promise of personal regeneration – but they are offered little hope beyond that besides “a smile and Jesus loves you.” They are rarely told that Jesus Christ is a King who demands complete obedience; and that as His disciples they are obligated to “take every thought captive” and bring every area of society under His Lordship.
The question we need to ask at the present is: What is the proper role of the Church during this time? It is only the Reformed strain of historical orthodox Christianity embodied in Puritan thought emphasizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the totality of life that is the hope of Russia, Ukraine, China, Cuba, South Africa, India, etc. The future course of many nations could be determined by the voice of the Church prophetically warning against personal ambition and entangling alliances; but encouraging instead a historical optimism with the possibility of covenants among Christian nations to ensure lasting peace.
Last year, I began to see that the so-called “second Republican revolution” in November 2010 would result in frustration for many. We would begin to see many people taking to the streets around March when the weather warmed and people began to realize that politicians on neither the left nor right had a quick fix for our economic ailments. As soon as it became obvious that a “political solution” would not jump start our economy, people would begin to take to the streets and riots would occur.
Then began the Arab Spring. After praying about the meaning of this, I began to see that this would be a worldwide phenomenon. What happened in Egypt, Libya, Minnesota, and now Syria and many cities in America is the beginning of a spiritual revolution.
Another article I wrote in 1991 shortly after the first Gulf War was called, The Fallen Star of Islam.
During the past two years, the world has watched as communism – the great enemy of freedom – has fallen. The people of many nations quickly overturned their communist governments in favor of a more democratic representation of their people. Now a confrontation in the Middle East promises to overturn another great power – Islam. The Muslim people of the world are not the targets of this confrontation. They, too, will be liberated. With communism almost eliminated from the contest for the hearts and minds of the human race, there are only two great remaining forces competing for world dominion – Christianity and Islam.
I boldly predicted:
Governments throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia will dissolve overnight. Democracies will replace dictatorships; and the resulting freedom of religion will allow a great influx of Christianity, the true salt of the earth, to invade these nations and bring peace – not war – because peace can only be realized when Christ is formed within the hearts of the people.
I believe that we are now in the middle stages of this phenomenon. It’s an awakening that has been brewing in the hearts of many people in Muslim societies for a few decades underground. Now we are seeing the sprouting and first fruits of the harvest. It will not be without violence toward Christians, but we have a great reason to be hopeful for the spread of revival in Muslim countries.
The main reason for the emergence of these street movements 20 years after the Gulf War in 1991 is availability of wireless technology and the Internet. In 1992, I read a book that knocked me for a loop. It was called, Life After Television by George Gilder, published in 1990. The book described the emergence of the Internet and a remarkable possibility.
… the United States has only to unleash its industrial resources to command the “telefuture,” in which new technology will overthrow the stultifying influence of mass media, renew the power of individuals and promote democracy throughout the world.
I later expounded on what this could mean for Christians hoping to share the Gospel throughout the world in The Fiber-Optics Revolution in which I predicted the invention of writable DVDs and the ease of video steaming. If people could only see what God is doing in the nations, I reasoned, the stranglehold of the secular media would be broken and Christians would be free to sow the seed of Revival, Reformation and Spiritual Awakening throughout the world.
The biggest changes will come as highly centralized organizations become decentralized. Pyramidal structures will become inverted opening up the way for the average person to become entrepreneurial, self-reliant and individualized. The fiber-optics revolution will further the spread of democracy and free market economics in the whole world. The top entertainment networks will not be organizations such as CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS. The television networks will not be run by the media elite, but more and more by ordinary people. Soon public television networks will form to produce more viewer supported productions.
Although the World Wide Web emerged in 1993 and most of what Gilder and others predicted was soon fulfilled with a vengeance, the decentralizing and politically empowering effects of the Internet are yet to be seen. As Gary North put it: “The gatekeepers are still in place, but the walls are down.”
What I believe is next on God’s timetable is the complete breakdown of Western Humanism. This philosophy is in fact the twin cousin of Marxist Communism and had its origin in the time of the Enlightenment 250 years ago. Now this philosophy, which had the seeds of its own destruction sown into its foundation, has already run its course. The Occupy Movement can be interpreted as the “death scream” of Western Humanism.
I wrote two similar articles in 1995:
- Paradigm Shift 2000: Covenantal Blessings and Curses in History
- Paradigm Shift 2000: The Downfall of Liberal Secularism
These articles were essentially the same idea expressed in my Puritan Hope article applied to Western Humanism. I show in the first article how western culture has been framed in 500 year time periods and how at the end of each period, a major paradigm shift in philosophy has occurred that opened up greater liberty for the common people. We began to hear the buzz phrase, “paradigm shift,” in the 1990s as we got closer to the new millennium.
Today we are seeing the downfall of secularism in post-modern history. The sweeping changes we see in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and China, are a natural fruition the principles laid down at the time of the Reformation. In the West, we will see a complete breakdown of secularism within the next five to ten years. The preaching of the Gospel coupled with the collapse of the secularist state under the weight of its own lawlessness is preparing the way for the most significant paradigm shift since the first coming of Jesus Christ.
What we are seeing occurring all at once in 2011 is a coalescing of forces that were once aligned with totalitarian might against biblical Christianity. These forces are colliding with the contradictions inherent in their foundational presuppositions. Yes, it is a dangerous hour, but the greatest evangelistic thrusts in history always occur in these times of turmoil and upheaval. We have a great opportunity and how we will respond will depend on whether we correctly understand the times.
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment (1 Chronicles 12:23).
Islam, Marxist communism and humanism had inherent contradictions in their foundations.
Islam, of course, needs a totalitarian control in order to force nations to submit to a religion of “peace.” The more successful this “religion of peace” has been in history, the more war, starvation and death follows in its path.
Marxist Communism also needs a strong man to enforce governmental control of industry. Thus communism is never achieved. The poor get poorer while an elite few billionaires control the population and wage wars that result in the deaths of millions. In the end communism produced totalitarian states like China, a nation with the greatest number of billionaires and millionaires that has no running water and electricity in 90 percent of the populated land mass.
Zombies occupy Wall Street. “Eat the rich” is a popular slogan among the Occupy crowd. The problem with socialistic cannibalism, of course, is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.
The emotional flailing of the Occupy crowd is due to a frustrated realization that their fallen worldview is a massive contradiction. Since we are fallen creatures, our initial reaction to this mental dissonance is prideful emotional outbursts and finger pointing instead of calm analysis of why this house built on shifting sand has collapsed.
We noticed this in the publlic demonstrations that preceded the collapse of the former USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev, in his book Perestroika, reasoned that economic recovery of the Soviet Union would occur when basic human freedoms were allowed to function within the socialist state while bolstering the material productivity of the nation and the happiness of the individual:
More socialism means more democracy, openness and collectivism in everyday life, more culture and humanism in production, social and personal relations among the people, more dignity and respect for the individual…. We will proceed toward better socialism rather than away from it…. We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy.
Gorbachev believed that if the Soviet Union showed the west that it was capable of tolerating basic human rights by displaying openness and valuing individual self-determination, then the Marxist nation would continue to receive stimulus money in the form of Western aid and loans. This would jump start the failing Soviet economy and revive the vision for a socialist utopia throughout the whole world.
The question that needs to be asked here is: Can socialism and freedom coexist as Gorbachev once maintained? Or is socialism a system that must be done away with completely before freedom can reign? We must answer: True lasting freedom can only come when the socialist system is done away with. The failure of the Soviet Union and the continued economic crashes and booms of the Russian Federation, a nation blessed with more natural resources than any other region of the world, attests to this reality. Likewise, in the United States, true freedom can only reign once socialism is done away with completely and we return to the principles of liberty outlined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Whether the Occupy movement realizes it or not, together with Obama’s continued calls for stimulus spending, they are the Western equivelant of the failed Perestroika movement of over two decades ago. Hopefully, we will choose the right course once America’s version of Perestroika finally crashes and burns.
The ideal of the rights of life, liberty and property is based on the assumption that these are rights given by God to the people. Socialism, on the other hand is a statist ideal, in which freedoms are given to the people by the state. In fact, the people of socialist countries demanding their freedom in the late 1980s often acted as though freedom is something that the government gives you. The people themselves must be educated and liberated from this idea.
If Occupy is successful, they will not succeed in reconstructing a socialist society in which our national wealth is shared more equally and corporate greed is defeated. They will instead have deconstructed the last remaining vestiges of economic prosperity. This in turn will prepare our nation for mass evangelism and for a resulting freedom which can only come when our society is leavened by the Gospel.
Christians, if we avail ourselves to the Holy Spirit in this hour, if we see beyond the media smoke screen to the real issues at hand, we can tip the scales of our nation’s destiny of in favor of a lasting freedom!
Meanwhile, it is sadly humorous to see and hear the television and radio interviews with the confused Occupy crowd. They are “raging against the machine,” but they too relied on government subsidized corporate greed and a mirage of monetary cyber-unit loans to arrive at the place where they are at – a cesspool of filth and economic entropy. They are the Romantic-postmodernist reaction to rationalism. Since humanistic rationalism is inconsistent, the humanist can only act irrational and crazy as a response to his broken down system. The Age of Aquarius has dawned and it looks quite gray and bleak. This is a perfect atmosphere for the Gospel to explode in.
Evangelists who will take to the streets in this hour have the right strategy. We can use the machine against the machine. Only a full-orbed Gospel, which includes both the message salvation of individuals and making disciples of entire nations, can answer the questions that the Occupy crowd are asking. Only biblical rationalism is consistent. Most Christians have no idea what is going on. I’ve seen this coming for almost 20 years, so it’s not shocking to me. Yet I am amazed at how little Christians understand it. We don’t need to be afraid of the Occupy movement, but we need to jump into the middle and supplant it.
Our Lord commanded us to “Occupy until I come.” This is our movement and only we have the answers.