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Hope For This Present Crisis: The Seven-Step Path to Restoring a World Gone Mad

Hope For This Present Crisis: The Seven-Step Path to Restoring a World Gone Mad

by Michael Youssef

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Remember the Truth

In February 2020, Baylor University, a private Baptist Christian university in Texas, hosted author/poet Kaitlin Curtice as a chapel speaker. Though a chapel service is a worship service, Curtice’s talk was essentially a lecture on identity politics and gender equality. She never cited Scripture or named the name of Jesus. She opened and closed her talk with prayers to “O Mystery” instead of the Judeo-Christian God.

Curtice talked about her inner emotional conflict, the result of being raised by a Southern Baptist mother of European ancestry and abandoned at a young age by a father of Potawatomi Native American ancestry. She spoke movingly of the 1838 “Trail of Death” when more than eight hundred Potawatomi people were forcibly removed from Indiana to a reservation in Kansas. She is on a journey, she said, of becoming a person who listens to Mother Earth as she speaks.

She talked about the need to be woke (which means being alert to social injustice) and about decolonizing, which she defined as “the work of breaking down systems of colonization. Colonization is the act of taking and erasing indigenous history, culture, and tradition.” She spoke of her journey of decolonizing herself: “I am reclaiming who I am, wrestling with all parts of my identity, my white privilege, my native feminism, my spirituality.”

It saddens me that Curtice struggles in her identity, that she condemns the faith of the mother who raised her while embracing the “Mother Earth” worldview of the father who abandoned her. Her lecture might have been appropriate for a class on ethnic studies or political science, but hardly for a chapel devotional at a Christian university.

Curtice didn’t inspire students to a deeper relationship with God. Her only references to the Christian faith were denunciations of the church. She claimed, for example, that “as a mixed European and Potawatomi woman,” her “inner and outer voice has been silenced, especially by the church”—though she didn’t explain how the church had “silenced” her. Wasn’t she, in fact, paid by a church institution to speak at the chapel service?

But for me, Kaitlin Curtice’s most troubling statement was when she said that to be connected to our own spirituality, we have to be connected to the spirituality of others. What does she mean? How should Christians “connect” to the spirituality of non-Christians?

We find similar sentiments in the words of so-called “progressive Christians.” We hear it in the “love wins” universalism of Rob Bell and the “generous orthodoxy” of Brian McLaren. In context, it becomes clear that Curtice was urging Baylor students to open themselves up to other religions, such as Curtice’s pagan reverence for “Mother Earth.”

This post-Christian, post-truth world tells us we should “connect” with other belief systems by embracing them. The Bible calls this idolatry. Yes, Jesus calls us to love all people, including people of other faiths. He demonstrated His love toward the Samaritan woman and the pagan Roman centurion.

But Jesus warns us against polluting the pure truth of the Christian faith with the falsehoods of other religions. Jesus declared Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life, and the only way to God the Father. “Connecting” with false religions by worshiping God’s creation (“Mother Earth”) is explicitly forbidden in God’s Word.

Near the end of her talk, Curtice said, “My spiritual liberation is tied up with all my spiritual relatives who face oppression.…Are we not working to be liberated together?”

No. True liberation comes not from being “woke,” but from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in John 8, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Symbolic Truth

There is a scene in John 2 in which Jesus goes to the temple in Jerusalem, and He looks around and becomes angry. The temple is a house of worship, the house of God—but the greedy religious leaders were making a huge profit by turning the temple courtyard into a giant swap meet. No one could hear the prayers from the temple because the courtyard was filled with vendors and money changers, all hawking their wares and haggling over prices.

So Jesus braided a whip and strode through the courtyard, scattering the coins of the money-changers and overturning their tables. He shouted at the sellers of sacrificial animals, “Get these out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market!” Several years ago, I taught from this passage in an adult Sunday school class. A successful young Christian businessman spoke up and said, “This incident has always bothered me. I think it was pointless for Jesus to clear the temple. Didn’t He know that the very next day, all those vendors and money changers would be back in business at the very same spot?”

I was about to reply, but a stay-at-home mom in the class spoke up first. “Sometimes,” she said, “it’s important to take symbolic action. Jesus knew He couldn’t be there to cleanse the temple every day. But He used that moment to send a message to the nation of Israel. With one dramatic act, Jesus showed the nation what He stood for—and He stood for morally, spiritually pure worship to God.”

She was right. We sometimes tell ourselves, “What’s the use of taking this action? Any good I accomplish is only temporary. Tomorrow, things will be back to normal, and I might as well have done nothing.” Satan would like us to become discouraged and defeated, so we will never be effective for God. But there is power in symbolic action. There is power in speaking God’s truth boldly and without compromise, even when we think it won’t do any permanent good.

God has sent us out on a mission to proclaim His truth to the world. He didn’t send us out to be successful. He called us to be faithful and obedient. Whether the world responds to our message or ignores us or throws us in prison or crucifies us, we must faithfully proclaim His uncompromised truth—then leave the results with God.

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