Funny how one small incident can increase consequences. Just last Friday, a friend, Carol Efaw, posted a link on Facebook, nominally on the Duck Dynasty discussion. But the author, Gary Alan Taylor, went much further, suggesting that the incident demonstrates we’re now in a post Christian era. With Augustine legalizing Christianity, Taylor says “a cosmic revolution took place resulting in the alignment of the church with the ruling political regime of the day.”
According to Taylor, and I agree on this, that’s gone. Realistically, those committed to Christian values are becoming a minority influence. Good or bad. Right or wrong. Like it or not. The swiftness of gay marriage gaining majority approval. Mass gay weddings live on the Grammys. More children conceived out of wedlock than in. Truly, the times they are a’changin’.
You can explore the entire piece at http://www.redletterchristians.org/death-dynasty/. You may not like all of it, you may not agree with all of it, but think carefully about what Taylor says.
I'm torn about this. Relying on politics to advance the principles of faith is not only ineffective but cannot be found in the New Testament. Conversely, God's guidelines for behavior benefit all who practice them (not regarding salvation, but in quality of life). So, I grieve for my society when it chooses behavior that gives it less than the best. Yes, society and individuals have the right to select their behaviors. We followers of Jesus, though, make a strategic mistake when we try to enforce biblical morality on non Christians. The benefits come most to those who choose them. Let's be gracious participants in the discussion and focus on making faith an attractive and rational option.
Our culture will lose with the loss of the Judeo-Christian ethic, but it's happening and not likely to be reversed anytime soon. My two solaces: it will force nominal Christians to either leave or become authentic, and historically, the church tends to be more effective when it's a persecuted minority. Look at the first three centuries. Or what happened in China when missionaries were forced out and pastors were imprisoned.
Carol added a fascinating note: “It was interesting when we lived overseas in a totally different culture (based on Buddhism & animism) that only those who were really committed to Christianity met together for services & studies during the week after an 8pm curfew. While we were not directly persecuted, there was definitely an 'attitude' toward Christians that was clearly noticeable. The church where we were members had nearly every denomination you could think of & I have to say it was the most exciting, most inspiring Christian experience we ever had… I agree with you, Tim, when real persecution starts, or hits closer to home, we will see a big difference in commitment from believers. Christians are in for some very exciting (and mostly likely trying) times!”
So, how do we respond? By fighting a battle that looks unwinnable in transforming the culture, or by winsomely changing the hearts of people through spiritual transformation? By moaning about the changes, or by trying to use them for the kingdom? I think Jesus modeled the latter.
We live in interesting times, don’t we? Let’s creatively, and graciously, be change agents for God, not government and culture.
Kick Starting the Discussion
How many of the recent cultural changes concern you the most? Why? Do you think our culture has reached the tipping point in becoming post Christian? Why? What are some ways the church can transmit the essential message of Jesus to our world? How do you think the church should change in this new world?