All over much of the Western world the church of Jesus Christ is losing ground and failing to impact the surrounding culture. That in large measure is because we have failed to stand solidly for biblical truth, and we have failed to see all of life in terms of the biblical worldview.
Instead of proclaiming absolute truth, we have embraced the relativism, subjectivism and false ‘tolerance’ of the world. And instead of seeing everything through the lens of the biblical storyline, we have adopted so much of the world’s ideas, values and emphases.
Thus we see so many threats to faith and freedom, such as from the radical homosexual movement, the new atheists, political correctness, and the war against the family. Therefore the need of the hour is to proclaim biblical truth, and see the Lordship of Christ extended to every area of life, be it political, social, cultural or intellectual.
But in my current travels throughout North America, I am not seeing very much of that. Instead I am seeing one church after another selling out to the prevailing culture. I see many so-called Christians who seem far more comfortable in the surrounding culture than in Christian circles where biblical truth is proclaimed and lived.
I am coming across way too many folks who simply cannot or will not think biblically and Christianly. It is as if they have never renewed their minds as they are commanded to do (Romans 12:2) and therefore have never really been transformed.
The actual verse goes like this: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Paul makes it clear that without this mind renewal the will of God will not be known – or done.
And all this is based on biblical truth. But how little is the Bible known, read, believed and obeyed by most Christians today? Thus biblical truth goes missing, and worldly wisdom becomes the standard fare of too many believers. This is not pleasing to God.
The exact opposite is. As John writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). Where are the believers today who are seeking truth, walking in truth, rejoicing in truth, and being transformed by truth?
As Blaise Pascal once wrote: “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” Do we love the truth? Is truth the thing we seek for, strive for, and cannot live without? And are you willing to pay the price for affirming truth?
Speaking truth and promoting truth will never win you friends. To stand for truth will instead create enemies and enmity. And in a time when people prefer lies, championing truth will really be a difficult and costly path to follow. But truth is what changes people. As Robert George put it in Conscience and Its Enemies:
We must have faith that truth is luminously powerful, so that if we bear witness to the truth about, say, marriage and the sanctity of human life – lovingly, civilly, but also passionately and with determination – and if we honor the truth in advancing our positions, then even many of our fellow citizens who now find themselves on the other side of these issues will come around.
But many will not embrace truth. That is why it takes courage to stand for truth and the biblical worldview. The battles over marriage and human sexuality are just some of the major battlefronts today. Here we see truth and morality taking a hammering. As Ravi Zacharias put it:
These days it’s not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture today to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.
In a recent article Paul Kengor discusses the battle for marriage and conservatism. What he says about conservatism can pretty much be said about Christianity as well. He writes:
Conservatism aims to conserve the time-tested values, ideas, and principles that have been sustained over time by previous generations and traditions…. These are values, ideas, and principles – usually with a Judeo-Christian basis – that have endured for good reason and for the best of society, citizens, country, culture, and order. That’s a brief summation that the late Russell Kirk, probably conservatism’s preeminent philosophical spokesman, would endorse.
Speaking more on homosexual marriage, he writes:
Gay marriage, merely by its total newness alone, fails that rudimentary definition. Gay marriage has never been done before. One would never expect a conservative to rush into something as utterly unprecedented – and that directly repudiates the laws of nature and nature’s God – as this completely novel concept called “gay marriage.” Same-sex marriage not only revolutionizes marriage but also human nature generally and family specifically, the latter of which conservatives have always understood as the fundamental building block of civilization.
One would expect a progressive to support redefining marriage, because for progressives, everything is always in a state of never-ending, always-evolving flux. Progressives have no trouble rendering unto themselves the ability to redefine human life itself. Redefining marriage is small potatoes. A progressive can wake up tomorrow and conjure up a new “right” over a grande skim latte at Starbucks. For secular progressives especially, there is no absolute, set standard for things like marriage or, really, even for right or wrong. They are relativists who don’t subscribe to established absolutes. Redefine marriage? Sure, says the progressive. Redefine family, parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood, womanhood, manhood, gender? Sure, says the progressive.
For conservatives, however, this is unthinkable. Indeed, a conservative cannot even “conserve” when it comes to gay marriage, because gay marriage is an untried idea unimaginable by any people until only very recent days.
To be sure, conservatives, especially those whose conservatism springs from religious underpinnings, should recognize and respect the inherent human dignity of all gay people – being fellow human beings made in the image of God – and should not mistreat them. But those conservatives cannot, in turn, blatantly violate (if not blaspheme) the teachings of their faith and their God on the sanctity of male-female matrimony.
I’ll wrap up with a key question that I get asked all the time by conservatives on this issue: Can one still be a conservative and support gay marriage? I’d have to say that if someone is conservative on 90 out of 100 issues, but gay marriage isn’t one of them, that person probably ought to still be regarded as a conservative – albeit with a really skewed misunderstanding of how gay marriage fits their conservative worldview. But while some conservatives will support gay marriage, gay marriage is flatly not a conservative position.
The biblical worldview also cannot coexist with homosexual marriage and the radical agenda of secular humanism. Believers must make a choice here. Either we align ourselves with God and his word on these sorts of issues, or we run with the reigning worldly agenda.
But we cannot do both. We are meant to be transforming our culture, not allowing the surrounding culture to transform us. That is why knowing and acting on the biblical worldview is so essential. As Francis Schaeffer put it: “As Christians we are not only to know the right worldview, the worldview that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that worldview so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can.”
It is because truth and the biblical worldview are largely missing in the churches in the West today that we are losing so many key battles. It is time to turn this around – and soon.