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  • Micah Coate

The Darkness And Light of 2023 And The Shrinking Space In-between

Updated: 3 days ago

“…choose this day whom you will serve” - Joshua 24:15

In a fallen world filled with broken people, you don’t have to look too far to find sin and its devastating effects. Whether they be personal, societal, cultural, or political, the spirit who works in the Sons of Disobedience (Ephesians 2:2) seems to be working overtime in the United States. Although there were far too many accounts of spiritual darkness to narrate here, allow me to share five from 2023 that I believe exemplify the zeitgeist of our time. Then, lest we lose all hope from a brief look into the abyss, I’ll relay five events of spiritual light that took place over the same twelve months. Like all years before and all years to come, 2023 showed us that two kingdoms are vying for power, and the neutral space between them is quickly diminishing.


The Darkness:


1. On March 27 a 28-year-old woman, Audrey Elizabeth Hale, carried out a deadly mass shooting in Tennessee. Going by the name of Aiden Hale, the transgendered murderer entered the parochial elementary school, The Covenant School, killing three nine-year-old students and three adults before being shot and killed by law enforcement. In the concise summary of Aaron McIntire, (producer of the Steve Deace Show) this was, “A mentally ill woman likely under demonic influence who thought she was a dude, targeted her former school that she hadn’t even attended for at least 15 years… complete with maps and a manifesto. It was an act of anti-Christian terrorism.” 1 Images of her authenticated manifesto released by Steven Crowder on November 6, 2023, reveal that Hale was hoping to kill many more children than she did. It contained multiple racist comments, “including a stated desire to ‘kill little crackers’ with ‘white privilege’.” 2


2. In August, the TikTok personality and biological man pretending to be a woman going by the name Dylan Mulvaney was surprisingly promoted by Bud Light. Despite the backlash of Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light losing nearly 400 million dollars in the aftermath, Mulvaney continued to be idolized by Drew Barrymore and celebrated by Kamala Harris and many other political and social elites. In October 2023, Mulvaney was awarded the Woman of the Year award and even sponsored a sports bra for Nike. Although many on the right have voiced opposition to Dylan’s celebrity and influence on America’s youth, he continues to be celebrated as the face of feminism and bravery.


3. Then, on October 7th, the terrorist organization Hamas from the Gaza Strip coordinated an attack on Israel killing roughly 1,200 of its citizens — including many women and children. Accounts of rape and beheadings of innocent Israelis were widely reported. Although this evil attack by radicalized Islamists upon Israel happened far from away from the United States, it uncovered something terrifying here at home. The mask of tolerance and multiculturalism for everyone deeply rooted within college campuses was stripped away as demonstrations against Israel’s military response to the terrorist act summoned protests across campuses nationwide. Students adamantly condemned Israeli retaliation while condoning Hamas’ terrorism against the Jews. Most notable was Harvard’s “Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee” that issued a statement cosigned by 33 other Harvard student organizations that essentially backed Hamas and denounced Israel.


Ironically, many of the people who will not tolerate “violent” speeches on their campuses by conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, were the very ones not only condoning but promoting the antisemitic battle cry of Hamas to annihilate the 10 million Jews living in Israel.


4. Soon after this, on December 15th, Senate Staffer Aidan Czeropski filmed himself committing sodomy inside a judiciary committee hearing room on Capitol Hill. As Columnist Armstrong Williams explains, “The tragic part about this entire situation is that the occurrence is extremely unsurprising. It coincides with a drastic downward spiral of morality, where our nation is turning into the next Sodom and Gomorrah…The way this staffer acted isn’t just indicative of his own failing moral character but of the state of this country.” 3


5. And last, just before 2023 came to a close, on the precipice of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Iowa’s relatively conservative government allowed the Satanic Temple to erect a goat-headed, cloaked figure inside the state capitol. The display brandished a pentagram, candles, and plaques outlining the group's seven beliefs.


The Light:


Despite these dark events many notable people not only came to faith in Christ and began to walk in the Light of Christ but were very public about it. Thankfully, a string of high-profile baptisms have pierced the darkness of 2023.


1. On September 25, Rose Namajunas, the former two-time UFC women's champion drove seventeen hours to be baptized by public evangelist Kayla Gabbard. Kayla posted “UFC fighter and my born-again sister, Rose Namajunas was baptized in the name of Jesus this weekend, in a beautiful show of faith and commitment to Christ!” 4


2. On October 2nd, survivalist, author, and television host Bear Grylls was baptized in the Jordan River. He posted on X, “It had always been a dream of mine to get in the water that Jesus was baptized in by my hero John the Baptist. The story is so amazing, & it seems wherever Jesus went, that new birth, new life, a new vision followed.” 5 In a daily devotional Grylls released in 2019, titled “Soul Fuel,” he wrote, “You have a light within you, the Holy Spirit, and wherever you go, you will bring a light greater than the darkness around you.” 6


3. Then on the very next day, October 3rd, we witnessed the radical conversion of Kat Von D. The 41-year-old celebrity tattoo artist, who once dabbled in witchcraft and all things secular was baptized one year after renouncing the occult. “Katherine von Drachenberg, upon your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in obedience to his divine command, I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," the pastor of an Indiana church proclaimed before immersing Kat under water. Addressing her millions of followers, Kat said that she only wanted "love and light" to surround her family now. She also assured her followers that a "spiritual battle is taking place.” 7


4. JP Sears, the anti-woke YouTube personality and comedian who was once a new-ager spiritualist changed his mind about God and faith. Although Sears has not confessed saving faith in Jesus and has not been baptized as of yet, he posted a video explaining how he has accidentally become more Christian over the years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6etpmQUc2M.


5. Lastly on December 20th the very famous Terry Gene Bollea, otherwise known as Hulk Hogan, was baptized with his wife in a Florida church. The WWE Hall of Famer with 24” inch “pythons” posted on Instagram, “Total surrender and dedication to Jesus is the greatest day of my life. No worries, no hate, no judgment… only love!” 8


The Shrinking Space In-between:


In an interview between Babylon Bee, the conservative Christian news satire website and JP Sears, I heard the idea that although the darkness will become darker in the last days, the light will shine brighter. 2023 showed us that although these two kingdoms are growing in contrast and great evil is on the rise, the light of God is also shining more ablaze than ever.


As time ultimately passes, the difference between the two kingdoms of light and darkness can not be more apparent and the fruits of each more evident. The space of neutrality (if there ever was one) is shrinking by the day. About taking sides, Jesus himself said “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” Matthew 12:30

Christian, there really are two kingdoms in this life. One is led by the Prince of Darkness (Ephesians 6:12) and the other is the King of Kings and Light of the world, Jesus! (John 8:12).

As I often cite from Hebrews 5:14 one sign of spiritual maturity is being able “to distinguish between good and evil.” Today, it doesn't seem difficult to discern between the two. But be assured, it will always be difficult to apply. May you continue to pray for those in power and influence and may you “…choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) By the grace of God, I know where I stand and whom I feebly try and serve. But where do you?

Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff

Footnotes:

  1. Aaron McIntire, https://www.instagram.com/p/C1aTjnKOARy/, assessed December 31, 2023.

  2. Chung, Frank (November 7, 2023). "Photos of Nashville school shooter's alleged manifesto leak online". news.com.au. Retrieved November 9, 2023, Accessed January 12, 2024.

  3. Armstrong Williams, What Video of Gay Sex in Senate Hearing Room Says About America @Arightside / December 21, 2023 - https://www.dailysignal.com/2023/12/21/sodomy-in-the-halls-of-congress/. Accessed January 12, 2024.

  4. https://www.instagram.com/p/CxoVtgbAy13/. Accessed January 12, 2024.

  5. https://www.instagram.com/beargrylls/p/Cx5KFYBIyFt/. Accessed January 12, 2024.

  6. https://religionunplugged.com/news/2023/10/10/bear-grylls-baptized-in-jordan-river-it-had-always-been-a-dream-of-mine. Accessed January 12, 2024.

  7. https://www.christianpost.com/news/kat-von-d-gets-baptized-1-year-after-renouncing-witchcraft.html. Accessed January 12, 2024.

  8. https://www.instagram.com/p/C1FI1gcuOlY/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=7080e499-700d-41ed-91f2-d3b0d961d4ec&img_index=1. Accessed January 12, 2024.

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