Confessions of a Past Culture Warrior

"As a young culture warrior, I was getting a hit of righteousness. I needed to know that I was a good person, and waging the culture wars was a great way to convince myself and those watching me." - Hannah Anderson

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I could relate to a lot of that article.

I think the current culture war problems are complex, though, as is the 'war' itself. Starting with the war, I believe we need to fight the decay of our culture. But there are unhealthy versions of that, distinguished by a) degree of focus: obsession with CRT, wokeism, and the left is a symptom of spiritual and intellectual disease for a Christian. b) Notions about success: you can't win a culture war by right policy and policy-makers. Rules don't change beliefs and values and without those deeper changes, they're limited in their power to change behavior as well. 

But beyond problems with the war itself, there are, as Hannah observes, problems with motivation. I think motives are very mixed, from the self-righteousness of putting other people down, to ordinary fear and anxiety toward change, hunger to understand the world in simple terms--also oversimplified theology of "the world," our place among the masses of lost humans ("in exile" being one of many contributing attitudes), eschatology of global domination by an evil ruler. Then there's the biblical anthropology piece: weaknesses there make it easy to demonize people with beliefs or policies that differ rather than seeing them as human beings with fallen but normal human motivations... just like us.

The hunger for simplicity drives much of the unhealthy version of culture war. I think a hunger for simplicity also drives some of the criticism of it. In reality, it's a messy thing and there isn't one answer to it.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Don Johnson's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

you can't win a culture war by right policy and policy-makers. Rules don't change beliefs and values and without those deeper changes,

Aaron, I agree in general, but wanted to observe that the left thinks it can win the policy war by right policy and policy-makers. In fact, they think they are winning. The push back from moderate parents against school boards is shocking them.

So, I agree, ultimately the solution is a changed belief system (I'd call that revival). In the public arena, though, we have to use ordinary means to either hold the line or make some gains. We shouldn't shrink from supporting the political struggle while at the same time focusing on the spiritual struggle.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I agree that policy fights matter. The problem is that policy fights often create perceptions that work against the more important struggle for beliefs and values. (On that, I agree that revival would be great, but plenty of Christians have mixed up values and beliefs about ethics and society... and plenty of unbelievers don't. So the correlation is not tight.) 

Pursuit of policy goals doesn't have to be as ugly and poorly argued as it often is, so improving that would help. But Christians are much at risk of being seen as only "people who want to control everything." The perception has the advantage of being accurate in many cases. The near constant refrain of megachurch/celebrity pastor failures is but one evidence that lots of Christian leaders are mostly about power. The political raging feeds that perception. "Evangelical" used to mean "people who believe in the euangelion" but now is widely perceived as a political identity.

This is because of policy-focused culture war, starting probably back in the Moral Majority days.

So, in terms of energy, focus, emphasis and messaging, Christians are way out of balance in favor of policy and other coercive efforts vs. our identity as people of faith seeking others to understand and accept what we know to be true. (And even on the 'truth' front, we have a lot of emphasis problems. It matters which truths we shout first, loudest and most often!)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Don Johnson's picture

Yes, I'm with you on all that. The public arena is so highly politicized that there is very little room for effective leadership. It seems to be all about who shouts the loudest and who has the right slogans. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joeb's picture

Aaron you just hit a home run in my opinion.  I'd say Paul to a degree laid some of this out in 1st Corinthians 5. It's none of our business to judge non believers if the church is in sin. I'd say White Evangelicalism in America went to far to the point that they'd support a Dictator (DONALD) so they can win the Cultural wars.  
 

However my older Brother a Former SBC Pastor did point out to me that there is a place in Society for the Church to influence it for a Righteous cause. I felt like Bert was talking to me.  You know common sense. 
 

My Brother said it was the Christians in Britain and politicians who led the first abolishment of slavery and the US Pastors and Politicians followed suit in America. This is possible the best example of Christians bringing about a positive change in society. So you can't operate in saying we should have no involvement.  The truth is the Christian Right has taken it to far and adopted an operating strategy of the ends justifies the means. It's called balance and some White Evangelicals (TRUMPERS) are way out of balance  

Its interesting that my Brother refers to the SBC Cleaned Out National Leadership  as the ones causing the problems in the SBC as Christians in name only and they don't represent the true believers of the SBC  I believe all the SBC Seminaries revolted against this National Leadership and supported a SBC President who wanted resolve the sin issues.  So my brother is still a strong supporter of the SBC and wants the ship righted.  My brother says there is a lot of solid SBC Churches like the church plant he is involved in now  

Anyway thanks again Aaron for your GREAT INPUT   It gives me hope