Tom Wolfe, Megatrends authors John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, and Harvard Professor Peter Gomes are just a few of the experts predicting a trend toward faith and religion on the university campuses of America. This new tack, which students have been taking, shows no signs of letting up. Indeed, the degree of religious fervor shown by young people in the 1990s may make the light of the “Jesus Movement” of the early 1970s look dim, say social commentators.
At a speaking engagement at the University of Florida on March 27th, New-Journalist-turned-social-commentator, Tom Wolfe said he was “taking notes” and indicated that a university campus might be the setting of a future novel. “Somebody should write a book about the University of Florida,” said the author of Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff.
Religious movements in the United States and university life are two subjects that Wolfe would like to tackle in a future novel. “We’re certainly going to see, for the next ten years anyway, a lot of racial politics in a way and to an extent we haven’t seen before,” Wolfe added on a side note.
John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, authors of the best selling Megatrends 2000, have included a chapter in their book entitled “Religious Revival of the Third Millennium,” which describes the “unmistakable signs of a worldwide multi-denom-inational religious revival.” Naisbitt and Aburdene claim that the revival will intensify as we approach the year 2000.
A post-modern global phenomenon is now taking place, say the acclaimed authors. “Chinese and Soviet young people are fascinated by Christianity and enjoy attending church to the dismay of their Communist-schooled elders.” The university campuses are being included in this movement. If not the focal point, United States’ campuses will be caught up in a worldwide intensification of the Christian faith.
Theologian Harvey Cox, who has taught as many as 1000 students in his course, “Jesus and the Moral Life” (one of the biggest classes at Harvard University), describes a growing trend which he says was “unforeseen by forecasters 25 years ago, who predicted that religion would whither away because of modernity.”
According to a recent issue of The Harvard Independent, “The prominence of religion in Harvard’s classrooms and lecture halls has grown over the past two decades … Just 20 years ago, however there was no religion concentration at Harvard … Now students flock to courses such as ‘Jesus’ and ‘The Bible.’”
Peter Gomes, professor of Christian morals, says, “The reason that those courses are so popular is that students are literally hungering and thirsting for righteousness. They are prepared to ask naïve questions, such as, ‘What is good?’ (and) ‘What is evil?’ The closest things you’ll get to answers are in those courses.”
On the West Coast, pastor Chuck Smith founder of Calvary Chapel, the focal point of the early 1970s “Jesus Movement,” claims that there is an even greater hunger among young people than at any point during the early 1970s. According to Smith, this spiritual awakening is “not over yet!”
Where is all of this newfound faith leading us? It is probable that we are on the upward side of a trend that will result in the “Third Great Awakening.” In the 1700s, America, Germany and England experienced an awakening of the Christian faith that transformed society. In the 1800s, the Second Great Awakening swept through America and Europe bringing an end to slavery and a renewed definition of human rights.
Now, as we approach the end of the 20th century, a new awakening is just emerging. This revival will bring the eradication of communism and dictatorship as a form of government throughout the world. Christianity will replace Islam and Eastern religions as the world’s predominant faith. We will begin to see the “Great Commission” which Jesus Christ spoke of fulfilled, in which all the nations of the world will be transformed by the gospel message .