Daily Archives: March 17, 2015

New England’s Avalanche of Apostasy: Snowing Over the Pilgrim’s Progress

         The northeast has had an exceptionally snowy winter. And it’s not over yet. Residents have experienced cold and snow way beyond the norm in an ongoing series of repeated winter storms and blizzards blowing in with gale force winds, much of it concentrated on the inner coastal areas of New England.

         The city of Boston has set new all-time snowfall records. The area’s snowfall is greatly out of proportion compared to other usually more prolific geographic snowy spots known for large accumulations and relatively high averages. Is all this random?

         Boston set a new season snowfall record on Sunday, measured from July 1 to June 30, with just over 9 feet to date. This had never happened before in official recorded history. The city also set by a large margin a new all-time winter record, and destroyed the previous monthly record with 64.9 inches in February, eclipsing the old mark of 43.3 inches set in January of 2005.

         The official measurements date back to roughly 1870. Unofficial record-keeping dates to the 1700s. There is no way to know for sure what the actual records are from the time of Boston’s founding, but residents of the Boston greater metropolitan area, which adds up to about 7.6 million people including commuters, have seen the record snowfall firsthand and generally refer to this as the worst winter in memory.

         Boston was founded in 1630. It could certainly be the case that the new official records were exceeded in all that time, but comparing the snowfall totals of the last 145 years gives a good indication that the current snowfall has been decidedly extreme. The previous annual record was set two decades ago. The snowfall is increasing at what appears to be an exponential rate with new records being set at shorter intervals.

         Adding this to all the other strange weather patterns happening in recent years all across the country tells us something is up. Other records are being broken as well. There is no comparable data for many of these events in recorded history and therefore no portent of what is to come, but it does not look good.

THE ARRIVAL OF THE PILGRIMS

         And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. [Daniel 2:21-22 KJV] [1]

         In 1620, the English Separatist Christians, also known as the Pilgrims, landed at Plymouth Rock. They were the first English settlers in the region and founded Plymouth Colony, the second colony in America.

         These believers had suffered greatly for their faith while in England, and even had to flee to the European continent to escape persecution before coming to America. The Separatists had withdrawn completely from the English state church—the Anglican—many decades before, due to strong beliefs in pure New Covenant teachings. They paid for it severely. Many lost their lives and were imprisoned long before later brethren made it to these shores.

         There is confusion regarding the many denominations of the English Reformation of the 1500s, such as the Presbyterians, Puritans, and Separatists, but it was the latter group that the Lord had chosen to get to New England first.

         The Puritans were relative latecomers to America and had always insisted on keeping one foot in the official Anglican Church. They proved their lack of resolve by not only succeeding in avoiding much persecution, but also waiting for others to do the heavy lifting and putting forth a strong witness. Once the ocean highway was built by the pioneering Pilgrims they began infiltrating Plymouth Colony and the Boston area in droves.

         Thirteen years before the Pilgrim landing, in 1607, it was the Anglicans who began the first English settlement on the American continent, but this was to the south in Jamestown, Virginia. The Jamestown settlement experienced great hardship and was actually abandoned briefly in 1610. It had a purely economic motive rather than the spiritual motive of Plymouth.

         Regarding New England, though the Separatists were obviously the group closest to the heart of the New Covenant and the Gospel, they were soon overrun by all the others who later ventured to America. Still, they laid the initial spiritual foundation. The Puritans overlaid the Pilgrim’s foundation with their own, which included an ecclesiastical culture and governance, much legalism, and the aforementioned connection to the hybrid high church Anglican assembly. Nevertheless, there was a strong Christian presence in the New England colonies overall and the Puritans eventually distanced themselves from the Church of England.

THE FIRST GREAT AWAKENING

         The first American Great Awakening began a century later in late 1734 in Northampton, Massachusetts in a small church community led by Jonathan Edwards. It eventually spread like the proverbial wildfire throughout the northern colonies and later as far south as Georgia. This proved to unite many of the members of the various denominations, though the old school Christians fought the revival tooth and nail. The Awakening proved to be the initial unifying force of the young confederation of colonies that a few decades later rebelled against harsh English rule and won independence in the American Revolution.

         It must be noted that the Revolution against the English throne had achieved in the secular what the Separatists had achieved in the Spirit. Both parties made the decision to risk everything and attempt an impossible goal. Both were driven by something otherworldly beyond the natural scope. Without those strong disciples of the Lord a century and a half before the Declaration of Independence was signed—those who were willing to risk it all in bringing the Gospel to a new continent—there would have been no American Revolution, no freedom, and all the blessings of God made possible since.

THE SECOND GREAT AWAKENING

         The Second American Great Awakening in the early 1800s spread rapidly primarily under the preaching of Charles Finney beginning about 1825. The next ten years were his most active as a revivalist. Again, God’s choice was not conventional. Though a Calvinist, he rejected much of the Old Divinity Calvinism, and preached against strict Predestination, proving that the doctrine of some people being born for heaven and others for hell to be heretical.

         Finney caught much flak from his detractors during his ministry. He was a strong advocate of preaching against sin and demanded repentance, exactly as had the Lord Jesus and the early believers. Jonathan Edwards had done the same. Both of these men were humble and unpretentious. Both fought against great odds. Both were seen as odd.

         Finney preached thousands of messages in revivals throughout his life and also founded Oberlin College in Ohio. His revivals were primarily located in upper New York state and Manhattan.

         The First Great Awakening of Jonathan Edwards’ time had spread throughout New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.

         The Separatists Pilgrims had established Plymouth Colony, which at its height covered most of the southeastern part of what is now the state of Massachusetts. This colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.

         There is no doubt that great spiritual happenings were a matter of course for the greater New England and northeast region. The people there had been abundantly blessed by God. Later history, however, reveals the unfolding of a spiritual disaster.

SPIRITUAL SNOWSTORM?

         What has happened to the great Christian presence in the Northeast? In the region where great revival fires spread and untold numbers of people were saved there is now a general spiritual coldness, distance from God, and a growing hatred of real Christianity. As the record snowfalls of Boston portend, the hearts of millions have grown cold in an ever increasing spiritual snowstorm.

         Could the snow records be a sign? Could it be that the record snowfall is a clear indication of the great apostasy of the region?

         Boston’s snowfall record goes back to the beginning of official record keeping in about 1870. Charles Grandison Finney died in 1875. Coincidence? How could a place with such a powerful Christian spiritual history become the very opposite at present? What is the cause of the northeastern states’ descent into such a freezing cold spiritual condition?

         In looking once again at the impossible journey of the Separatist Pilgrims almost 400 years ago and the great spiritual foundation they set, and also at not one but two powerful Great Awakenings that shook the northeastern part of the country, it should give all believers serious pause over what can happen when people drift away from God. The spiritual temperature in the region is matching the frigid winter lows but remains constant all year long, and has resulted in a relative spiritual ice age.

         Keep your seeing eyes peeled. After just witnessing the greatest all-time snowfall upon the exact land claimed for God by the Separatists four centuries ago, there are not only warnings to be heeded but signs to be sighted.

         Something tells me the present early stages of the Great Awakening will not be having any breakouts out in Boston.

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.