November 3, 2007

Involved in a bit of a tiff

From time to time I get involved in conversations over at Josiah Road. Currently involved in one that has ignited some pretty strong reaction. I'm wrestling with this one. I feel pretty strongly that the evangelical Christian community is largely going about "the culture war" in a way that simply doesn't square with scripture. However, I see my brother's POV. Below is a summary post I placed in the midst of the discussion (read the entire thread here). Would love some feedback here, and yes my rhino skin is firmly in place so fire away.

I in no way dispute that there is an enormous battle being waged for the hearts and minds of our children. I am simply raising the unpopular question of whether or not we are engaged in this battle in the right way.

The easy way is to beat the war drum, get the troops mobilized, create yet another stir that gets some results (albeit temporary) and pat each other on the back for “standing up to the evil empire” and all the while losing more ground. (Do you hear anybody talking about how much better it’s getting because of all these efforts? I don’t - just the opposite in fact.) The hard, but in my estimation, more effective way is to teach our children and our brethren to critically and biblically examine the culture in which they live and to respond to it in a biblical fashion. (See 1 Peter 3:15-16 for guidance).

It simply causes me to grind my teeth when we run around shouting about all we are “losing” when the understanding I have of our position in Christ is that we’ve already won.

There seems to be some expectation that a fallen culture is going to reflect and embrace God-honoring principles. I just don’t see it happening, no matter how many companies or movies we boycott. Without changing the hearts of the people we have little hope of changing the heart of the culture. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams, 2nd President of the United States)

Saying no to “The Golden Compass” may be a right decision to make. I’m just not sure creating another cultural firestorm is really productive

5 comments:

kevin said...

John,

I really feel for the older generations; the ones that were here before the sexual revolution of the 60's. It must be heartbreaking for them to see how vulgar we've become.

Having said that, I agree strongly with what you say. Paul never seemed exasperated that a pagan culture acted pagan.

I have some other thoughts on this. Many would argue that our sense of morality was stronger in the past. In some ways it is a valid argument. Let's also consider, however, that past generations had other pet sins, such as racism. I doubt that any African American would claim that things were "better" in the 50's in terms of equality, etc.

Mike said...

Your exactly right. We cannot expect sinful man to be righteous in the nation. No amount of laws can make that happen. Wasn't it the moralists who brought in prohabition, and as a result established the mob in America.

I think the enemy uses all kinds of ideas to distract us from proclaiming the gospel and teaching truth.

Lets not waste our time in developing a Christian nation, full of laws and political might. Let's preach the gospel and make disciples. Guess what, the nation will change when hearts are changed.

Carol L. Douglas said...

We weren’t appointed to judge the world.

The other question is, “How do you know you’re right?” I’m no moral relativist. I want my self and my little household to be as sanctified as possible. I have little doubt what that means to us personally, but there are areas in which my interpretation is radically different than yours. (It’s really tragic that I can’t get you to see sense.)

We left the Episcopal Church because its Latitudinarian tendencies have gone to their limit, where nothing is absolutely right or wrong. On the other hand, what I miss the most about the Episcopal Church is that same speculative sense that what matters most is the condition of the individual soul, and not issues of public doctrine or official theology.

Here’s the thing—in matters of theology, Paul’s dictum applies: “For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” We can only read and trust in the Lord to guide us.

Sure, I’m opposed to polygamy and homosexuality and all the other sins which you also oppose. But I also believe they are the relatively small potatoes compared to the glaring issue, which is that these people are separated from God. My haranguing them about sin isn’t going to do anything, but perhaps I can let them glimpse God’s great love for them through my life.

And what gets really nasty is when we presume to determine who is saved. It drives me nuts that my church prays regularly for a former member to get right with God, ignoring the fact that she has a desperate need for healing in that she has end-stage cancer. I pray with her, and I don’t see her as particularly “not right with God.” How presumptuous to assume we know these things without direct revelation from the Lord!

Gwendolyn said...

Thank you, John, for your comment that Christ has already won the victory for us.

Christians confuse me when they get bent out of shape about death, for example. If (big if) you believe in Resurrection, death is birth into eternal life. Not something to hurry along, but also not something to delay beyond all reason.

I may be a moral relativist (how would I know?), but I also believe that change must come from the heart. Laws, for example, may make it easier to act in certain ways, but laws that do not spring from heart are more often honored in the breach than with life.

I am awaiting your reflections on Joan of Arc!

John said...

Gwendolyn,

Thank you for the kind words. As for the Joan of Arc thing, wow, am I off in some deep woods here or what? Reading Carol's post thoroughly intimidated me. Intelligence matched with artistic experience, and I have neither! We'll see...

John