Culture Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope

Over at Boar’s Head Tavern there’s been a discussion going on about cultural “wars” between Christians and, well, everyone else. How far should Christians go in confronting the culture at large? Should churches be involved formally in politics, social agendas, or lobbying? Should a pastor use his pulpit to preach only Jesus – or should he also preach what Jesus might do in today’s political climate? The question may seem simple, but the ramifications are not – and looking at history’s various churches and their failed attempts at striking the right balance only makes us wonder that much more. Where is the dividing line between too much and not enough? Where should the people be involved, where the organization should not?

The first question then is “what purpose does the church, as an institution, serve?” If we understand what churches actually supposed to do, we can understand better how to go about doing it. In the times of Acts, there was no clear distinction between the Church as a body of believers and the church as a formal organization. We do see that the Christians met together regularly, and from what I can tell in Scripture, the gatherings served four major purposes. I draw these primarily from the specific examples of the early church in Acts, and I think a good summation can be found in the post-Pentacost gathering described in Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Continue reading Culture Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope

233 years and counting

As of tomorrow, this nation has managed to remain (mostly) free of tyranny for 233 years. This is a remarkable feat. Given how fast the world has changed in the last century, it is even more remarkable. What we experience and take for granted now is nothing like what we had even ten years ago, much less fifty or a hundred.

But here we are. And many of us – especially those who consider themselves conservative or libertarian – are worried. In the last six months under President Obama we have seen incredible expansion of government power, spending, and influence in private business. The headlines seem ripped from an Orwellian or Randian novel – government takeovers of big business, closing down political enemies, while the best and brightest withdraw to avoid increasingly harsh taxes and penalties. This too, is nothing like we have seen – in the history of the country. And historically, we see that it is inevitable that every free country will eventually fall to tyranny. So we wonder – will these latest changes be the last straw? How much longer can we hold out?

I say, it doesn’t matter. For as long as there’s a shred of hope, we have to fight on for what we believe and for freedom in this country. Without that attitude being held by our forefathers, these would still be American colonies. And we must realize that though they may take a new form, the challenges we face are really nothing new.  As Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” And as was recently pointed out to me, the real issues are often masked by politics – what we are struggling against is not (merely) a different set of politics; it is a different set of worldviews. These worldviews are what gave us the mess we’re in now – Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are just symptoms.

Politics flows from the worldview of the culture – not the other way around. And so if you want to change politics, you will be much more assured of victory by changing the culture spawning the politicians than trying to convince the existing politicians to change their stripes. Changing the culture seems to be a daunting task, but it’s not as hard as you might think – every customer you greet, every corporate meeting, every church dinner and game night is a chance to influence those around you. Culture is nothing more than the views and interests of the people who create it – and by influencing those people, one at a time, you influence the culture as a whole. It was not until culture changed that politicians addressed the issues of slavery, of civil rights, of abortion, and most recently gay marriage.

Every shift in culture puts pressure on the government to react in order to hold on to the power that it has – so it is there that we will fight the battles. It is there that the war for this nation will be won or lost – in the hearts and minds of every American.

So now it’s your play. Ball’s in your court. What are you going to do? Who are you going to influence?