In case you haven’t noticed, we now live in a post-truth age. We’ve “progressed” (or shall I say “regressed”) from post-modern to post-Christian to what it is now: post-truth.
Actually, it’s a new truth age. Allow me to explain.
A quick look back
First, let me take you back to that bygone era known as the ’60s and early ‘70s — a time during which longstanding injustices and corruption were overthrown. The Civil Rights movement brought an end (for the most part) to centuries of legalized segregation and discrimination.
The Jesus People movement helped throw off the chains of legalism and breathed new vibrancy into the American church. And then there was the women’s movement which accorded respect to women for their contributions to society-at-large (including, but not limited to, the home).
Unfortunately, the revolution had no boundaries. Norms of all shapes and sizes were being tossed. All authority was challenged. The sanctity of marriage was called into question with the dawn of easy divorce laws. Even the sanctity of life itself was eventually deemed insignificant.
Indeed, the ’60s and early ’70s comprised what I call the “shock and awe” phase of the counterculture revolution. As the counterculture’s influence grew, so did the acceptance of its values. In this “normalization phase,” our airwaves and hallways became filled with acceptance of alternative truths and alternative lifestyles. The only “thou shalt not” still in vogue was to “not judge others.” “Your truth may not be my truth” became the prevailing sentiment.
From counterculture to cancel culture
We’ve since moved from the “normalization phase” to the “enforcement phase” of the counterculture reformation. Some call this cancel culture. Old norms have been replaced with new norms, which must be celebrated or at least acquiesced to. Failure to do so can result in the “cancellation” of one’s reputation, livelihood, or worse.
The counterculture era left a “new morality” — or new truth — in its wake. We are now waist-deep in this new truth and the new norms that go along with it. The choice awaits us all — either embrace (or at least acquiesce to) the new truth, or you will be deemed an enemy of society.
Under the dictates of the counterculture and its offspring (cancel culture), both institutions and individuals are being forced to accept their “new truths” or being shut out of the public square. Some are losing their jobs or businesses. Others are being de-monetized or de-platformed off social media.
Just this past March, an op-ed in USA Today posited that Oral Roberts University should be banned from NCAA competition just as the school was poised to enter the Sweet 16 bracket of the Men’s Basketball tournament. The reason? The school’s “anti-LGBTQ” stance.
If you think your career is entirely safe, think again. If you think that cancel culture won’t come knocking on your church’s front door, think again.
A divine opportunity
But something else may be showing up pretty soon at our doorstep. That something else is a divine opportunity. Let me explain.
As counterculture has morphed into cancel culture, it has left in its wake a trail of devastation and desperation. As a result, you have multitudes devastated, desperate, and disillusioned. These multitudes represent our divine opportunity!
Recently I watched an interview with a church-planting couple who told of having multitudes show up on a southern California beach to hear the gospel (whether for one meeting or several meetings I’m not sure). I know of another evangelist (also in California) who in January, amidst the COVID lockdowns, saw overflow crowds at his tent in Bakersfield. Across the country, hunger is awakening in the souls of many.
At the same time, hunger is awakening within the body of Christ. Amid the pandemic, protests, and pressure from cancel culture, there is an increasing number who are lifting up their voices in desperate prayer. I even heard about a group of high school students (!) in Middle Tennessee who are reaching across campuses and denominations to unite in prayer.
Apparently, cancel culture has awakened many in the Church.
Do you remember reading about the early Church in the first few chapters of Acts? How they were in constant communion with one another? How they met each other’s needs?
Acts 2 is considered a cornerstone passage describing the “birthday of the church.” It was Pentecost — the Feast of Weeks (or “Shavuot” in Hebrew). It was on this day — in the very same city where Jesus had been crucified literally just “weeks” prior — that the tiny group of Jewish believers huddled in an upper room experienced a “rushing violent wind” followed by the appearance of “tongues of fire” (vv. 2, 4). Three thousand people were saved (v. 41) under the anointed words of a former coward turned fearless preacher. We know him as Peter the Apostle.
But do we remember what happened just a few days later?
Chapters 3 and 4 tell the story. In Chapter 3 we read of Peter and John being used by God to heal a blind man right outside of the Temple and then preach to the onlooking crowd (vv. 7–26). Then in Chapter 4 “cancel culture” (in the form of the Temple authority) swoops in and arrests them (v. 3). But not until thousands more come into the fold (v. 4).
After their release, what did Peter and John do? They returned to their community, who together with them “raised their voices together to God” and asked for Him to “grant…that (they) may declare Your message with great confidence” (Acts 4:24, 29).
They didn’t run and cower. Quite the opposite! They asked for more boldness!
The new/old counterculture
Now is not the time to run and hide. It is not time to acquiesce. No friends, this is the time to shine more brightly. This is the time to engage more compassionately. This is the time to pray more fervently.
Do you want to see an answer to the degeneration of counterculture and cancel culture? Then look no further than the mirror.
You and I — and the rest of the Body of Jesus — are today’s true counterculture. We always have been. We always will be.