Christianity vs Culture

Nothing New Under the Sun

Reposted from August, 2021.

Judging from what I’m seeing, hearing and overhearing lately, a lot of conservative Christians are really worked up right now. Details vary, but the general feeling seems to be that recent developments in religious liberty, LGBTQ trends, mask and vaccine “mandates,” and Afghanistan mean all we hold dear in the U.S. is now collapsing.

With the exception of Afghanistan, most of the alarm seems focused on loss of freedom. On Afghanistan, concerns are appropriately more focused now on the casualties from Thursday’s attack in Kabul. A week ago they ran the gamut from the suffering of Christians there, to national embarrassment and the frustration of our military, to betrayal of allies …to the feeling that Joe Biden is an inhumane monster.

For my part, though I have concerns about cultural trends and the Afghanistan mess, I don’t see our times as unprecedented. The word “perilous” fits, but that’s been true for a pretty long time. I don’t feel the sense of doom that many of my fellow Christians and conservatives seem to feel right now.

I’m sure some would say my problem is naïve optimism, arrogance, ignorance, or bias. That may be part of it, son of Adam that I am—but there are also other factors.

The lens of history

The disaster in Afghanistan isn’t World War II’s battle of Okinawa or Vietnam’s Battle of Ong Thanh. Admittedly, it’s hard to find historical examples of American failures bringing greater peril to American and allied civilians.

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On Misplaced Militance

When the biblical fundamentalist movement was in its heyday, evangelicals often complained that the movement was afflicted with a misplaced militance. It seemed to be at war with fellow believers. Today, some of the same evangelicals are caught up in a misplaced militance of their own.

They’re constantly emphasizing battle against American culture and government.

It’s not entirely an emphasis problem, but mostly. Much of what’s trending in our culture is a continued departure from our Christianity-influenced roots. Riding that wave, some of what’s trending in government is also increasingly hostile toward a traditional, Christian way of life—as well as hostile toward certain freedoms.

If your focus is narrow, the situation looks worse than it really is. But let’s stipulate that some bad things are happening in society and government, and we should try to slow or reverse these problems—in ways that don’t undermine the rule of law or work against our higher priorities as Christians.

And that’s the problem. Overemphasizing a lower priority always sucks time, energy, and passion from higher priorities.

Against this emphasis problem, let’s consider a simple question:

When we look at “militant” language in the New Testament, what do we see identified as the target(s) of our struggle?

To hear some talk, you would think “the world” would be in the spiritual crosshairs everywhere in the NT. But that’s not what we find.

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Phil Cooke on his and Jonathan Bock's book: The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back

"Study after study comes back with roughly the same numbers. Most adults in this country say they believe in God (89%). Only slightly fewer call themselves Christians (70%). But what we say and what we do are two different things." - Cooke

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John MacArthur, James White, et al release Frankfurt Declaration on government abuse of power

"The 2,000-word document has received signatures so far from notable figures including John MacArthur, Tom Buck, Voddie Baucham, Phil Johnson, James Coates, and James White." - C.Leaders

The Declaration

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