The Stampede of Secularism Will Not Stop Conversions

by John Piper

A few weeks ago, I was talking with some pastors in England. In spite of the fact that Britain has been outpacing the United States in the usual signs of secularization, one of the pastors said that developments in the last couple years, even in Britain, have had a new effect on people in the church. It seems now to many believers that true Christians hold views so different from the culture that they wonder if anyone can be converted.

I think this is a common feeling. Will deeply secular people, with little or no Christian background, see the moral implications of following Christ as so unimaginable that they treat Christianity as equivalent to the Greek myths of Zeus and Hermes?

Here are three biblical perspectives that make that kind of pessimism unwarranted in the church.

1. God is always at work loosening individual people from the group-think of the prevailing culture of unbelief.

It is a mistake to look at the “culture” and assume that all the unbelieving people are in lockstep with the spirit of the age. In fact, someone’s child just died. Someone just found out he has cancer. Someone just lost his job at 55. Someone just had a terrifying dream about hell. Someone alone in a hotel room just happened to read the story of the prodigal son. Someone has just decided his life of self-indulgence is meaningless. Some young couple has just had a long conversation about the absence of moral standards to pass on to their children. Someone just felt a wave of guilt pass over his soul, and a deep sense that he is accountable to a Creator.

In other words, we make a huge mistake if we forget that people get saved one at a time as unique individuals, not as mere specimens of the “culture.” At any given moment in the secularization of our culture, God is at work in ten thousand ways to prepare particular individuals to hear the gospel.

When you get on a bus, or go to the gym, or stand on the sidelines of your child’s soccer game, the dozen other people there are not in lockstep with a monolithic secular culture. There are a hundred other things going on in their lives, and you never know (until you probe) whether five of these factors are actually making them disillusioned with the very culture you think is enslaving them. Don’t think of people as specimens of culture. Think of them as individual people…

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