The Christian in this culture . . .

I’m getting ready to write a review on a little book called “Can God Bless America?” However, as a prelude to the review, I’ll share a paragraph from the book that has been in my meditations for the last 24 hours and I think NEEDS to arrest the attention of many Christians in light of our current American sociopolitical climate. Read the following very carefully.

“Unfortunately, the church today is at war with the culture, and many Christians think that by opposing moral decline through protest and politics, they are doing all they can do to redeem society. They have begun to view their unbelieving neighbors as the enemy rather than the mission field. As the rift widens between the Religious Right and the rest of society, the gospel message is being lost in the din of conflict. The tender love of sinners has been replaced by bitter rivalry for influence. Thus the only truth that can ultimately draw people to sincere repentance is too often being set aside in favor of political rhetoric and partisan squabbling.”  ~ John MacArthur

Christian, you might need to be re-calibrated . . .


One Response

  1. As you have, I’ve tried to give a good deal of thought to the Christian and the Christian’s surrounding culture. I hadn’t come at it quite from the angle that you are setting forth here, and MacArthur makes a good point. My own pastor tends, I think, to approach that sort of thing by a largely positive presentation of Christ, while not forgoing cultural critique where necessary and profitable. Even there, though, he tends to call out US as believers to examine our lives for sin and wrong thinking/living, more than he castigates the surrounding culture.

    I have been thinking about the positive and negative when it comes to the tenor of a person’s ministry, and in raising one’s children. Certainly, there is a firm place for warning, critiquing, and calling out sin as sin. That is clearly set forth as a Christian duty in Scripture and the prophetic voice thundering against what is unthinkingly accepted as normal (including the “new” normal) is necessary in every human culture.

    At the same time, while we must call out what is wrong with the worldview/story/narrative of an ungodly culture, we must also positively present the way things ought to be. And this should be done, I think, not simply with the positive as a foil to the negative (although it is!), but with the positive as the grand, overwhelming, joy-infused, divine vision and intention, which makes all competing stories look weak and insipid next to it.

    Even as I say these things, I recognize that I have to keep in mind that we are all — to some level or another — shaped by the culture that surrounds us. And presently, it is a culture which is all about tolerance, avoiding “negativity,” and the like. So it may be that in the very way I’m setting forth an accentuation of the positive here, I may actually be succumbing to the cultural forces which influence me, and not letting the Word of Christ influence me enough. The prophets come back to mind — even John the Baptist, the greatest of them all, in the Gospels — and the fact that they pulled no punches in their prophetic message, and that message would doubtless have been seen as pretty “negative” by their hearers.

    So, a good project — and a fairly easy one — might simply be to evaluate the interaction in the NT that believers had (or were to have) with their surrounding culture and the unbelievers in it.

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