One Shot: An Open Letter to Chirstians in a Post-Christian Nation

That’s right, I said it, Post-Christian. John O’Sullivan with National Review, in his excellent article of December 14, 2013 entitled Our Post-Christian Society, makes the case that a post-Christian society is not one that has abandoned wholly the Christian morals and ethics on which it was founded, but has abandoned Christianity as a basis for those same morals and ethics that it yet continues to operate under. In his words,

“But there are consequences to forgetting truths. One consequence is that while we instinctively want to preserve the morals and manners of the Christian tradition, we cannot quite explain or defend them intellectually. So we find ourselves seeking more contemporary (i.e., in practice, secular) reasons for preserving them or, when they decay completely, inventing regulations to mimic them. When courtesy is abandoned, we invent speech codes… When female sexual modesty and male sexual restraint are discredited as puritanical, we draw up contractual arrangements to ensure that any sexual contact is voluntary on both sides… Above all, when we no longer protect and strengthen the family on the grounds that it is a patriarchal institution harmful to the life chances of women, we encourage the family breakdown that leaves women worse off financially, pushes men into an irresponsible life, and damages their children socially and psychologically.” (emphasis mine)

Is it any wonder that it seems the world has gone mad? Any ethic, in fact any society, divorced from it’s history and basis flounders. All sorts of violations and horrors take place because the best justifications are often that “it feels right” or “it’s not hurting anyone.” Ed Stetzer, on May 20, 2015 in his The Exchange blog article entitled Evangelicals, Culture, and Post-Christian America (via Christianity Today), had this to say about how the American Church engages in culture,

“Culture and religion in the United States has morphed in a way that will cause our churches to wander with uncertainty for decades, unsure of what it is they’re supposed to do to engage their culture. We have already begun the journey, and churches don’t know if they’re supposed to battle the culture, defeat it, slay it, withdraw from it, or embrace it.
It is a tricky time.
Movements come for many reasons—and they are deterred by many other reasons.
Yet, one of those reasons has to be the uncertainty with which we are engaging culture around us.
For example, how can we expect people to be open to the gospel we preach when we’ve just called them bad names on Facebook for their political views?”
     Mr. Stetzer advocates “engaging from the edge and not the center” and I couldn’t agree more. This means not expecting to be automatically heard and respected. It means understanding that the society is not taking it’s cultural cues from the church, and increasingly many churches are taking their cultural cues from the society. This is especially dangerous. This is the church mimicking the the unjustifiable general or almost Christian moral, ethical, and cultural stances yet for the same De-Christianized, secularized, vapid reasons. In Ephesians 6:10-18 The church at Ephesus was being admonished by Paul to “Put on the full armor of God”(v.11). Their struggle was not that different from our own. They were operating in a pre-Christian culture, so perhaps the distinctions were more stark, but the dangers were also greater.
     A central element of the armor of God is the belt of truth. Although the scriptures are the embodiment of the truth God the Father gave us through Christ His Son, they’re not the only truth He has revealed to us, nor the only means we have for revealing truth to others on the edges of the post-Christian culture. Not only must Christian churches be missional but Christian homes have to be missional. An important element of missions work is engaging people in their own language. The days of “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” as an argument for anything are past (and we should lament their ever coming). The time for intellectual engagement in addition to engagement in the local church and service to our communities is here (and we should lament not having engaged sooner).
     So, what do we do? How do we turn the culture around? The hard way. We have to make the case. We have to get on our knees, no we have to get on our faces, fast, and beg God for a new Great Awakening, then we have to get up and go make it happen. We have to “Armor Up” by reading our scriptures PLUS learning about the challenges to what is contained in those scriptures. We have to engage people of all faiths and no faith with love and without fear, everywhere (even at work) and we’ve got to have some (not all) answers when we do. Above all we’ve got to remember that no one will ultimately be converted by our answers and the culture will not be shifted by our activism IF the Holy Spirit is not moving in and through us. This is the promise that infuses the command, if we’ll walk and talk in His light and in His name He’ll do the real work.
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