CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A Derelict Church and a Moribund Culture

May 14, 2019

My thesis, which I have argued before, is fairly simple: the culture is in the state it is in largely because of the condition of the church. When the church does poorly, so does the culture. And the terms I have used in my title were chosen carefully:

-Derelict = in a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.

-Moribund = (of a person) at the point of death; (of a thing) in terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigor.

In many respects the church in the West is in poor shape, through lack of proper use. Its calling to be salt and light has largely been neglected, and its unbalanced obsession with an inward focus instead of an outward one has led to its now derelict state.

By focusing on personal piety and having your best life now, while ignoring its bigger calling to be a witness to the surrounding culture, it has failed in many ways to perform its mission. In a similar way ancient Israel was meant to be a light to the nations, but for the most part never even got close to being that.

And as a result we have a dead – or at least dying – culture. The only hope for the West is the gospel message in all its fulness (not just getting souls into heaven, but being an outpost of God’s presence in a spiritual wasteland). But by neglecting our biblical mandate, culture all around us is in dire straits.

This website has documented often the derelict state of the church and the moribund culture all around us. I am not alone in pointing all this out obviously. Many others have as well, especially including those who have affinity with the Puritan and Reformed theological traditions.

One such author has written and spoken much to these themes. Rev. Dr. Joseph Boot, originally from the UK, is a Canadian pastor, apologist and cultural missionary. His most well-known work would be his important 2014 volume, The Mission of God: A Manifesto of Hope.

Given that he is coming to speak in Melbourne in mid-November (many thanks to my friend John for alerting me to this), it might be worth further introducing my readers to him. And that can be done by simply highlighting several of his recent articles.

A quite new piece by him is well worth starting with: “The progressive march of tyranny through the church.” It was his final paragraph that especially got my attention. What it says was for me one of those “Hmm, that sounds familiar – I can relate!” He said this:

When I began warning people about the emergence and direction of these things in the churches over a decade ago and urged people to respond by pursuing Christian education and defending the truth openly – the pulpit leading the way – I was largely dismissed with the hand-waving of apathetic leaders who claimed a collapse of freedom would never happen here. Now the jackboots can be heard in the halls of power and a complicit media largely pretends these cases don’t exist. We are facing political and judicial imperialism of an increasingly totalitarian kind and instead of waking up, much of the church is now talking about getting ‘woke’ whilst the cultural prophets are stoned as scaremongers. Only a reformation in the church can turn the tide.

Yes and amen. I have been saying similar things for years now – and usually with the same results! But let me get back to his article – and from the beginning. He writes about “Christian legacy of cultural apologetics” which he explains as that

which articulates and defends a total Christian philosophy of life in terms of the Scriptures; a worldview that touches every area of life and thought – and you are asking for trouble. Go to the religious root of the idolatry afflicting our culture and point to its key branches in various social, cultural, legal, political or educational aspects of society, and you will find that cultural prophecy is as unpopular amongst God’s people today as it was in the days of Amos or Jonah. Speak about the full implications of Christ’s Lordship and kingdom declared in the gospel – as well as the need to defend them in the public space – and you will witness the steady whittling away of those people who are willing to be seen with you in public!

I recall well that once I began speaking of the importance of Christ’s Lordship in recovering a decaying education, politics, law, arts and cultural life, suddenly I was ‘hysterical’, ‘extreme’, a ‘dominionist’, and dangerous to invite to speak lest something be said about human identity, sexuality, education, or some other contemporary cultural issue that offends someone!

He continues:

It is difficult to see how the ‘evangellyfish’ silence regarding scriptural reality and the claims of Christ can continue to hold in the face of the massive cultural change all around us. Consider just a few recent examples:

Last month, something very shocking happened in England – one amongst many incidents of this nature in the last couple of years. A Catholic journalist was interrogated by police at her house after she ‘misgendered’ the child of a transgender campaigner she appeared with on TV. She had the audacity to identify the child based on its biological sex.

In recent weeks in Canada, a Christian activist has been fined by a tribunal an astonishing $55,000 for the ‘hateful’ act of misgendering an adult male claiming to be a woman, running in local elections.

In an utterly terrifying decision made by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in just the last couple of weeks, a father has been accused of ‘family violence’ because he engaged in ‘expressions of rejection’ of his 14-year old daughter’s professed gender identity. According to The Federalist she had been undergoing testosterone injections without parental consent.

In another startling incident of a growing number, a school worker in the UK was dismissed from her job after she shared two Facebook posts that raised concerns about relationships and sex education at another school in the same village – her own child’s Church of England Primary School.

Of course some of those cases I have already documented here. My warnings have usually been ignored, and one suspects his will continue to be as well. But he continues, reminding us of how the Marxists and cultural Marxists have been operating freely in the West because of the sleeping and derelict church. And the results have been predictable:

As such, the popular slogans about freedom, democracy, rights, inclusion and tolerance have no reliable or lasting value. These positive-sounding words have been press-ganged into the service of revolutionaries. They seek to overturn all existing order in the hope that, after demolishing all previous security, a radical and autonomous freedom will emerge where man is no longer troubled by conflict or a deep sense of alienation. Normative human sexuality, marriage, and family are the primary targets, and individuals and organisations supporting them are being viciously targeted in the courts and drumhead trials of today’s human rights tribunals.

Image of The Mission of God: A Manifesto of Hope for Society
The Mission of God: A Manifesto of Hope for Society by Joseph Boot Amazon logo

Yes quite right. And since the revolution has so very much been about sex, an earlier piece of his is also worth quoting from. In his 2017 article “Revolutionary Sexuality” he begins this way:

It is surely beyond all dispute that we live in an age of revolution. This revolutionary upheaval is revealed most dramatically in the area of human sexuality. On all sides in our culture we are witness to the separating of what God has joined and a joining of what he has separated (Mark 10:9). Thus in the first instance we have no-fault divorce, the celebration of sex outside of marriage and abortion as contraception – with not even a pretended desire for holding together, in a moral union, love, sex and child-rearing in the permanent bond of the creational family. In the latter case, we have the promotion and celebration of homosexuality and even the denial of real, normative distinctions between male and female.

This ‘gender mainstreaming’ regards male and female sex as ‘fictive’ and seeks to reinvent humanity in terms of a gender-blending abstraction. The demagogues of revolution go about this subversion of creational norms in the name of liberation and empowerment, but as G. K. Chesterton warned, end up destroying what they claim to set free:

“You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end.”

The speed with which the demagogues armed with their pagan ideologies have captured our culture, liberating man of his mannishness, is staggering; and it can only be accounted for by the fact that Western society has been rendered morally weak and impotent by its sexual guilt – our resistance to subversion broken down by the sexualisation and pornification of most cultural life. Consequently, speaking of Christian sexual ethics today is not for the faint of heart. To point out the tragic and ruinous dismantling of creational norms in our society is to place yourself at risk of ostracism and exclusion – even among professing Christians.

The contemporary revolution is openly directed against God, and indeed creation itself, which is sustained and upheld by the Word of God. Scripture republishes and explicates that creation Word and is therefore vehemently opposed by the artisans of the new sexual order.

He examines how all this came about in more detail, and then concludes:

This radical identity crisis afflicting our culture reflects the religious crisis of our time. We must be critically aware that lying behind all these ideas are intuitively-held religious presuppositions, very ancient in origin, which are now being dressed in a new pseudo-scientific garb and applied socially in the most radical way. In contrast to Scripture, ancient Greek mythology set male gods like Ouranos and Zeus against female goddesses like fertility Gaia and Olympian Hera. This suggested a struggle basic to sexual relations that is foreign to the Bible.

Philosophically, the influential school of Plato taught a unisex or androgynous perspective because the “soul substance” in philosophical thought was sexless. This is a religious denial of the binary; of the reality of twoness; of distinction; of the ‘male and female’ that God made from the ‘beginning of creation’ (Matt. 19:4).

The positing of original sexless origins and the primitive androgynous emergence of humankind, as well as a denial of the even more fundamental creator-creature distinction itself, is basic to pagan, humanistic thought. As Peter Jones warns, “once the male-female distinction falls, other creational categories also become irrelevant.” If you can destroy the creational norm of marriage and family then you are destroying the image of the eternal holy family, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and this, it seems, lies at the root of today’s idolatrous war on creation.

Yes, exactly. It is always nice to hear others saying much the same sort of thing that you have been saying. It gives you hope, and reminds you that you certainly are not alone in having these concerns and offering these watchmen on the wall sort of words.

If you like what you have read here, you have several options. You can buy his books of course, and/or you can hear him speak when he heads down under later this year. I will keep you posted about those details.

[1960 words]

13 Responses to A Derelict Church and a Moribund Culture

  • ….and just think about what happens to the teaching of the Bride of Christ? Is it at risk also, of being destroyed, or can’t be properly understood if this no sex/unisex ideology is followed?

  • Because he hasn’t appeared on the Leftists’ radar yet, hopefully he will be able to speak freely without the professional protesters assaulting those queuing to attend. It’s unlikely his message will be widely read; the media more likely to focus on his “bigotry” if they report on his visit at all. One could hope his message will motivate Christians and even promote some Church-goers into Christianity!

  • It’s hard to say more than just, “WOW.” Talk about a hard-hitting article…outstanding! I guess all one could add would be that in the end, it all goes back to people accepting the worldly propaganda of evolution. If we are here by nothing more than a mere accident and, as such, are just a higher form of an animal that has managed thus far to be the stronger in the competition of, “survival of the fittest,” well, there’s no room for morality or respect of life at any stage. There are no absolutes and, frankly, “You have your truth and I have mine…if it works for you that’s great but it simply does NOT work for me,” is the motto that rules the day.

    I know, ‘what does that have to do with the failure of the church?’ Perhaps we are lacking in starting at the beginning of the deception into which the world as a whole has bought, evolution. Far too many in the ‘church’ actually believe in “theistic evolution.” If the church believes that lie, how can they present the truth to the world? The whole Scriptural ‘house of cards’ falls. So, I think the failure goes a long way back. If we don’t work harder to get back on track with, “In the beginning, God…,” I don’t see how we can get past the downhill spiral, the slippery slope which poor exegesis has caused. (And I do not mean you regarding that issue).

  • Nice article, I hear what you are saying and I believe that the church need to follow 2 Chronicles 7:14 King James Version (KJV)
    14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    I try to ask myself can people of the word tell the difference between me and them, often I find myself repenting.

    God bless and I pray that we need to ‘woke’ and be the watchman we are called to be.

  • Terrific article Bill
    I should get the book. People of his word applying his word to every facet of our lives and boldly living it out in a cultural sadly lost in a multiplicity of ways. Amen to that challenge.
    Cheers

  • It’s curious that the legal penalty for misgendering a man who wants to transition to a woman could cost $55,000 for hurt feelings amounting to a hate crime whilst there is no penalty for aborting a baby at the point of birth or even after if not wanted on reflection. The satanic,Luciferian agenda here is new social Darwinist order out of chaos.

  • What is really sad is how many in the church can’t see that the church IS responsible for society’s decline. so many I have talked to don’t believe the church is to blame satan did it. we did our job we are the pure and spotless bride but satan toke over society and destroyed it. our hands are clean. ironically these same people get all bent out of shape if you dare mention in other conversations that satan has power (not more than God but well more than humans). they immediately accuse you saying “are you saying he is more powerful than God???” to them it seams for most issue but culture satan is a toothless tiger who can only gum at you he can’t hurt you. but the bible says he is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    Rather schizophrenic if you ask me ‘satan has no power’ ‘satan overpowered us and took over society’.

    look at how many time we retreated form society thinking some sector was dirty so we should leave to stay pure. we abandoned Hollywood in the 70’s I believe and it showed in our subpar tv and movie productions for a LONG time only NOW are we getting the talent we need to write direct and produce good tv and good movies. (ones that don’t just preach to the choir but can reach those who aren’t saved by giving them a good plot and character and not have the hole thing seems forced or like a long boring church service. and lets face it too many church services are boring. am not for the dancing in the aisle and rock music playing in house bands type of service but a good preacher makes a service come alive where a bad one makes you count the seconds till he shuts up and you can leave. too many christian movies had no appeal outside Christendom and as a result were limited in the effectiveness. Not saying that we can’t make movie fr the flock that aren’t intended to be witnessing tool but we should be able to use movies and tv shows as a tool to reach the unsaved. even the made for christians movies we made were still not great quality.)

    We seeded so much ground over the years to satan just because things were getting tough or “dirty”: Politics, Education, Movies, Music, Art, Law (both lawyers and judges), etc. so many areas of influence we left behind and gave over to satan and now we wonder how did the institutions become so ungodly??

    I’ll close with these wise words spoken by Charles Finney in 1873 (emphasis added)(this was around the time americas church started retreating and the moral slide began closing in on 150 and our destruction is near complete and most people wouldn’t think satan was that patient):

    Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits.
    If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is OURS in a great degree.
    If there is a decay of conscience, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    If the church is degenerate and worldly, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    If the world loses its interest in religion, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the PULPIT is responsible for it.
    Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.
    The Rev. Charles Finney (d. 1875)

  • Absolutely agree with what you have said here. 1875 Rev. Charles Finney quote is timeless. It’s even more relevant today. We have much to repent of. Lord please give us more courage as you wash away our failures.
    Our sins of omission and commission. The times when we could have stood up stronger for you and should have if better prepared.
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=immeasurably+more+rend+collective&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-au&client=safari

  • “But by neglecting our biblical mandate, culture all around us is in dire straits” I am not sure which Biblical Mandate you are referring to.

  • Thanks Louise. I already mentioned a New Testament mandate as found in Matthew 5 to be salt and light. There is also the cultural mandate as found in Genesis 1. I speak more to that here for example: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/03/30/on-progress-and-human-goodness/

  • The terrifying truth is that whilst everything appears to be normal, the binary world of night and day, East and West, Winter and Summer continue and whilst the sheer demands of everyday existence mean we continue to acknowledge the underlying binary laws of physics like gravity, without a moments thought, no one can see the tsunamic wave of chaos that is so vast in scale towering above us that few are aware of it. And yet if we had the eyes to see there are armies of civil servants and government officials working tirelessly to micro-manage our destruction. The few victims of insanity that you mention above Bill, will no longer be anomalies but the norm.

    David Skinner UK

  • The out-proud homosexual is the weapon of choice for destroying the church. His pride wars against his deep sense of alienation and separation, as he attempts to erase the binaries of shame and pride, guilt and innocence. [1]
    Pastor Tim Bayly of Clearnote Church Indianapolis, in his book, “The Grace of Shame: 7 Ways the Church has Failed” gives a warning to many churches who are misguidedly attempting to welcome “Homosexual Christians” like Sam Allberry of Living Out and Jonathan Berry of True Freedom Trust into their pulpits [2]
    Toby Sumpter of St Mary’s church Idaho, USA, also commenting on “Living Out” writes, ‘But a church that begins giving any sort of credence to those labels (LGBT) has already compromised with the world. The whole point of those labels is to carve dignity out of sin. But there is no dignity in sin. It is all shameful and foul. I don’t even know what the “+” (in LGBT+) means, but there’s no logical reason why it should not include “pedophiles” or people sexually attracted to mailboxes or people who self-identify as mailboxes. All of the letters but especially the “+” is effectively a church giving permission to the world to keep digging themselves deeper in the cesspools of their vile imaginations. But the gospel clearly preached must confront the rebellion inherent in those labels. I would consider it faithful and obedient to preach in such a way as to make unapologetically effeminate men like Nate Collins and Wesley Hill feel very uncomfortable in my church. The statement is too vague to be helpful [3]
    Sam Allberry’s homosexual friend, Ed Shaw , pastor of Emmanuel church, Bristol , UK , says, “There’s huge amount of confusion over what terminology you use in this whole area of homosexuality . Do you say that you are gay? There’s been language that has been used at different times and different places. We tend to use the language of same sex attraction . We do that because the language I’m gay has so often been used to signify that someone is identify themselves by their sexuality and someone has embraced a life style that is an active homosexual life style . We talk about experiencing same sex attraction because it just includes more people and includes us. And certainly it’s a piece of language that is being used more and more by people within the gay community , to just recognise that not everyone’s happy with what has become quite political language.”[4]
    Indeed same sex attracted sounds so much better. Ever since Karl Maria Kertbeny and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs [5] coined the word homosexual to give sodomy the appearance of a Darwinian, scientific classification and attempt to remove it further and further away from the act of buggery and all the morbidities associated with it, it has changed to queer (a disordered personality type) to gay (a life style) to LGBT (an identity ) and now “ same sex attracted ( a mere preference or taste) The word heterosexual has also changed to opposite sex attracted which means that it is just one of many orientation so that even this will disappear as a distinct group into order to accommodate more and more pansexual people. Man boy attracted and sister attracted sound so much better than paedophilia or incest .
    Ed Shaw and Sam Allberry are the camel’s nose in the tent . Sooner or later , it will be beyond “messy church but veritably “anarchic church” [6]

    The word inclusive is a word which has become elevated to an absolute virtue . It is where all barriers and distinctions of difference are smashed . Tracey another member of Living Out says, “Now that I am a Christian doesn’t mean that I now have to become straight, or that I am going to get married to a boy or that’s what I want. The way that I feel is exactly the same as before I was a Christian . I have always been attracted to girls . That hasn’t changed at all and I don’t think it will; I can’t see that happening. That’s what feels natural to me.” [7]
    [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfwz02-1Bio&feature=related
    [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GqYU1DTwQ8
    [3] https://www.tobyjsumpter.com/livingouts-church-audit-dumpster-fire/
    [4] http://www.livingout.org/stories/ed
    [5] https://medium.com/@gvgktang/150-years-ago-this-queer-activist-invented-sexual-identity-to-stage-a-public-prot est-3f396dde21fd
    [6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC_pefWQqJw
    [7] http://www.livingout.org/stories/tracey

    David Skinner UK

  • Heard Joe Boot speak at a conference in Canberra last year. Without a doubt, he is one of the most powerful and compelling speakers I have ever heard! If you have a chance to hear him when next he visits Australia, do not let the opportunity pass you by.

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