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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Are we in a Great Awakening?

There are lots of hopeful signs, but... not many Christian leaders would say we're in one already. Maybe we're on the cusp.

You might have noticed that the very description of this blog says that we're praying and believing God for the next Great Awakening. Scholars disagree about whether this would be the Third, the Fourth, or maybe even the Fifth... but in any event one prominent American seems to think we're in one already: George W. Bush.

In an article that's sure to have the press freaking out, columnist Rich Lowry has blogged for us some excerpts of a conversation that he and some others had with the President on September 12. It's very revealing stuff:

Bush’s faith in the rightness of his strategy in the broader war is deep-seated — it is, indeed, a product of faith. “Freedom is universal,” Bush says. “And I recognize there’s a debate around the world about the kind of — whether that principle is real. I call it moral relativism, if people do not believe that certain people can be free. I mean, I just cannot subscribe to that. People — I know it upsets people when I ascribe that to my belief in an Almighty, and that I believe a gift from that Almighty is universal freedom. That’s what I believe.”

So it is somehow appropriate that a wide-ranging conversation on the war and the capacities of cultures to change swings around toward the end to the role of faith in our own culture. “Cultures do change,” Bush says. “Ideological struggles are won, but it takes time. It just takes time. You look back at the ‘50s, I don’t know how evident it was that — I guess there was — when you think about it, there was a pretty stark change in the culture of the ‘50s and the ‘60s. I mean, boom. But I think something is happening here.”

“I don’t know,” he continues, “I’m not giving you a definitive statement — it seems like to me there’s a Third Awakening with a cultural change. And it would be interesting to get your observations if that is accurate or not accurate. It feels like it. I’m just giving you a reference point, if this is something you’re interested in looking at. It feels like it to me. I don’t have people coming in the rope line saying, ‘I’d like a new bridge, or how about some more highway money.’ They’re coming to say, ‘I’m coming to tell you, Mr. President, I’m praying for you.’ It’s pretty remarkable.”

And so is the confidence of the man they are praying for — ever calm in the political storm all around him, ever certain that the difficult task he has set for himself and his country is right and will be a success.

For all the slams he takes about his intellect (M.B.A. and jet fighter pilot?) Mr. Bush seems to understand the concept of "Great Awakenings" and the important role they have played in American history. These great movements weren't in the same category as renewals like the Charismatic Renewal of the 60's, which did so much the energize the Church but whose impact on society wasn't nearly as great. Awakenings on the other hand bring about massive societal change as the entire moral sense of the populace is lifted.

Let's pray that the President is right, and that needed cultural change will come from Heaven - God is still a mightier resource than the ballot box or the courtroom!

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