A Book Review
Pat Robertson’s latest work is a literary Trojan horse. Its misleading apocalyptic title is certain to attract many of those who may be predisposed to reject its message. The New Millennium is not for everyone – but it is great literature which forces the reader to think beyond the fluff of the oft-repeated but seldom analyzed ear-tickling theories of the day. The problem is getting that literature into the hands of those of us whose minds are already made up.
Our habit is to pick up only those books with compelling or intriguing titles, or those which sound like they will be safely within the range of our comfortable philosophical predilections. The New Millennium is certainly a dramatic title on par with The Late Great Planet Earth, The Terminal Generation, or Countdown to Armageddon, but Robertson’s choice of modest, historically rooted prognostication over sweeping, fancy-driven speculation, will certainly not satisfy the eschatological sweet-tooths of those of us hooked on A Thief In The Night or Prodigal Planet.
So be forewarned, if you’ve already bought your rapture robe, you probably won’t want to buy this book. Or, if the fact that Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth means to you that it’s too dangerous to actively confront the prevailing social evils of our nation, then you probably won’t want to subject yourself to Robertson’s ravings about a Sovereign God who orchestrates world events and equips His Church universal to transform adversity into opportunity.
And if you feel that political action is unspiritual, that to choose Harvard University over Dallas Seminary is something less than spiritual, or that being neither “of” nor “in” the world is spiritual, then this book is not for you. No wait! I take that back.
The New Millennium is truly an intellectual tour de force, blending together a potpourri of essential truths from a wide assortment of academic disciplines. Its 300+ pages provide a good dose of basic world history and elementary economics backed up with a plethora of facts and figures. The book assumes that a clear understanding of both where we have come from and how we got here are essential prerequisites for those who desire to step out boldly to fulfill God’s will in this generation.
Robertson likes to get a good running start down a track of empirical evidence before leaping into the realm of the theoretical, the speculative, or the predictive. Accordingly, he offers us at least a skin deep historical summary of the major spiritual, philosophical, cultural and governmental trends which have affected mankind, especially in recent centuries.
Looking forward, we are presented with ten “megatrends” which will dominate the 1990s, labeled “The Decade of Opportunity,” and set the stage for the centuries to come unless Jesus returns. These ten can be boiled down into three categories:
1. The collapse of world communism and the fall of secular humanism in the West, consummating trends which have already begun.
2. A surge of interest in the supernatural, both through Spirit-revived Christianity and satanically empowered Hindu/New Age movements, both of which have already begun to manifest.
3. A long term shift of economic, military and cultural dominance from Western Civilization to the Orient, slowest to come and probably hardest for us to envision.
Robertson believes that the collapse of communism “presents the Christian Church with an opportunity as great as it experienced at the fall of the Roman Empire.” A strategic void is being created that could leave as many as 1.5 to 2 billion people spiritually naked. Pascal’s “God-shaped vacuum” is being revealed not just in the bosom of men, but in the hearts of whole nations.
The Gospel of salvation exists in these countries, kept alive by faithful underground churches that have been purged and prepared by the fires of persecution. These nations want to know how Christianity applies not just to their individual lives, but the whole of their society.
They are looking to their American brethren for answers, but as Robertson points out, “We have been woefully lacking in that kind of teaching ourselves. There are very few Christians in America who have an intelligent concept of citizenship or of the way that God would have us relate to the body politic.”
Eastern Europe is temporarily a blank slate, with no heritage of Biblical constitutional government from which to draw. We are the nation with the deepest wells of public policy, yet we have spent the past thirty years plugging up our own life springs.
The challenge is for Christians to proudly resurrect the biblical principles of civil government championed by our Founding Fathers, and then to carry them to those fertile lands where they will not be despised, as they are in their birthplace today, but rather cherished and zealously applied. If this can be achieved, then Robertson envisions a revived Eastern Europe as a possible springboard for a last chance assault of Christianity upon a cynical and completely irreligious Western Europe.
Not only will communism collapse, but so also will its philosophical bedfellow, secular humanism, the unofficial religion of the United States and Western Europe is enjoying its final years of predominance. Popular because it promised us mastery over our own destinies, if we exiled God to museum shelves and mythology courses, death looms near humanism because it has failed to deliver on its promise.
By rejecting man’s spiritual nature, it failed to meet his spiritual needs, and thus brought chaos instead of progress, confusion instead of enlightenment. Three hundred years of warfare between rationalism and faith are almost over. Faith will soon win, but what kind of faith?
Robertson predicts that “there is going to be a sudden and overwhelming rise of religious beliefs in this country. We are going to witness a spiritual awakening of religious belief in this country. We are going to witness a spiritual awakening of inconceivable proportions.”
However, he does not believe that humanists will automatically turn to faith in Christ, because “it would mean a loss of pride and prestige. They can’t go with traditional Christianity which they rejected, so they will choose to embrace the secular religion of self-actualization, self-realization, and other New Age type religious concepts born out of Hinduism.
This new religion seems to be “tailor made for a secular elite looking for a philosophy.” Therefore, the great battle of the 1990s “will not be between belief and unbelief, but between one form of evil and another. It will be faith in God versus faith in the devil.”
The next decade will see a shocking outpouring of demonic power against biblical Christians. “We can expect to witness satanic miracles, signs, wonders and manifestations in the not-too-distant future.” This, of course, is standard fare for the “Apocalypse Now” and “I’ll Fly Away” school of theology. However, Robertson challenges prevailing defeatist orthodoxy by declaring that at the same time “the power of God will be alive in the Church and we will also see some incredible signs and wonders through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this atmosphere, “the intellectual theology of doubters and equivocators will die of self-inflicted wounds … the mainline will move to the sideline,” and compromising churches will be left defenseless because “God will not submit His Spirit to churches that are dead.”
Finally, Robertson presents an intriguing analysis of historical cycles of civilization which he believes have recently begun a slow but steady shift from the West to the Orient. “the East is rising because the people there have embraced hard work, a disciplined life, individual initiative, family values, and in most cases, strong religious faith.”
Meanwhile, the West is declining for lack of these same qualities. If we do not change radically and quickly, “America will soon reach a point from which it cannot recover until after the massive judgment of God is visited upon it.”
“However, even if traditional Western civilization based on Christianity should be diminished, Christianity itself will not be.” Rather, it will explode through new cultures in exciting new ways. Robertson’s conclusion points to the future while refuting a myth from the past: “Christianity is not a Western religion. Christianity will flourish worldwide in the new Millennium.”
The New Millennium challenges our global pessimism and local paralysis with global optimism and local realism concerning God’s prospects for victory over Satan within history. The line is clearly drawn, but do we fear to cross it? Any takers?