This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 40, number 6 (2017). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal please click here.
The only real solution to a disintegrating West and resurgent Islam is what the prophetic pen of Os Guinness wisely designated “renaissance” — the power of the gospel however dark the times. The challenge, said Guinness, “is to shake ourselves free from the natural despondency of those who look only at circumstances and at the statistics of decline and gloom.” We do well to realize that “the West has been won twice before, and now it appears that the West has almost been lost a second time. So now, partly in response to the courageous faith of those who achieved it twice before, but more in response to the Great Commission itself, it is time to set our minds and hearts to win back the West to our Lord again.”1
We live in “an ABC moment (‘Anything but Christianity’),”2 a moment in which Christianity is routinely ridiculed and Islam referred to in reverential tones. Thus, it is crucial the church be awakened from a “diabetic coma” brought on by a steady diet of fast-food Christianity. Said Guinness, “The world to come will be shaped by whether the worldwide Christian church recovers its integrity and effectiveness and demonstrates a faith that can escape cultural captivity and prevail under the conditions of advanced modernity — or does not.”3
It is not enough for Christians to be intellectually equipped to communicate the truth of the gospel.4 We should also be internally equipped during this anything-but-Christian moment. What that means is that the church must be energized for its mission — by a power that is in it but not of it. As underscored by the apostle Paul, those who are made perfect in Christ do not labor in their own energy — rather with all Christ’s energy, which so powerfully works in us (see Col. 1:29).
The Father’s greatest gift to those who have been saved through the death of His Son is the impartation of a new order of life — the very life of Christ. By means of this impartation of the life of Christ, the Incarnation continues. The descent of the ineffable in Incarnation provides the ladder of divine ascent by which fallen humanity may rise up to union with God. To “participate,” as Peter put it, “in the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).5
The explication of this divine reality is the subject of a future book. For now, let me offer an illustration. The laptop on which I am writing has a limited supply of energy. In time, its internal power will prove insufficient. Yet when I plug it into an inexhaustible energy supply, the screen will again radiate like the face of Moses on Mount Sinai.
The disciples got a glimpse of inexhaustible energy on the Mount of Transfiguration. There Peter, James, and John witnessed a dazzling display of uncreated power. The face of Christ “shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). Moses and Elijah — who themselves had experienced divine energy — appeared as “a bright cloud covered [the disciples]” (Matt. 17:5). They experienced the ultimate lawgiver, the archetypal prophet in “glorious splendor,”6 and were themselves enveloped in uncreated energy.
This is the energy that alone is sufficient to empower the body of Christ in the present clash of civilizations. It is the mysterium tremendum et fascinans — the mystery that makes us tremble and yet attracts us. It is the mysterious energy by which we may yet reclaim the soul of the world against the forces of insistent secularism and Islamic jihad.7 —Hank Hanegraaff
Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast and Hank Unplugged podcast. Hank has authored more than twenty books, including The Complete Bible Answer Book — Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated (Thomas Nelson, 2016) and M-U-S-L-I-M: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Thomas Nelson, 2017).
- Os Guinness, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 47.
- Ibid., 67.
- Ibid., 25–26.
- For such equipping, see Hank Hanegraaff, Muslim: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2017), chap. 6.
- Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV, 2011.
- Luke 9:31 NIV, 1984.
- Article adapted from Hanegraaff, Muslim, 182, 184.