December 11, 2019

Monday with Michael Spencer: Evangelical Anxiety about Culture

The Last Supper. Andy Warhol (1986)

Note from CM: Here is a prescient look at evangelicals and their fear of culture from 2007, from a series of posts Michael did called, “Evangelical Anxieties.” What in the world would he say about where we are now?

• • •

Monday with Michael Spencer
Evangelical Anxiety about Culture

Christians always live in a culture. Sometimes that culture has been, in some way, a “Christian” culture. In most instances, Christians have existed in cultures that did not appreciate or endorse their worldview.

Determining how to live in culture, and to what extent that culture will influence us, has always been a challenge for Christians. Our “connectedness” to culture, however, is often not a matter of our decision to participate or belong. Because we live “in” culture, the condition of culture affects us whether we agree with that culture or oppose it. It is the water we swim in and the air we breath, and there is little that can be done about its presence unless we are willing to choose radical separation.

God’s word to his people has varied in regard to this challenge. In some circumstances, God has told his people to be separate to the point of suffering. In other cases, God’s people were told to settle down, buy houses, marry and do business; to seek their welfare in the culture where they found themselves. Christians are not always sure whether to refuse to eat the king’s food or to seek a seat at his table.

Some cultures have allowed God’s people to exist in peace with little interference, while other cultures have sought to persecute and kill believers. This kind of threat has, in many ways, been easier for believers to navigate because the hostility to the values and welfare of God’s people has been clear. In other kinds of cultural experiences, the extent of the “threat” to Christians from culture has been less easy to understand or anticipate.

Christians in American culture would appear to be in a friendly environment, but that isn’t what you will hear if you pay attention. Evangelicals in America today are awash in the rhetoric of persecution. If a person with no familiarity with America or Christians were to listen to much Christian media or wander through evangelical congregations, they would get the distinct impression that many Christians believe they are under assault, persecuted and constantly ostracized for their faith.

Fear of “secular humanism,” the “homosexual agenda,” and government “control” of religion is plentiful in evangelicalism. If one knows the right radio networks and programs to listen to, the paranoia runs very deep.

This isn’t a new situation. In the twentieth century, evangelicals felt themselves under assault in the Scopes trial, under assault by the influence of cold war communism, under assault by aggressive atheists and under assault by their fellow Americans who resist adopting the evangelical version of “American values.” In a nation of churches with unprecedented evangelical influence and political clout, the rhetoric of persecution and threat is everywhere.

Part of the reason for this is the difficulty Christians in America have in coming to terms with their privileged history in this country. To Christians of other times and places, contemporary America looks like an evangelical empire. Even Roman Catholicism in America is increasingly influenced by evangelicalism. But to American evangelicals, America seems like a place where secularists and anti-Christians are being given unprecedented power to limit Christian belief and impose their vision of culture on the children of Christians. This is because the culture is changing in reference to our past, a cultural past that is mythologically presented as an idealized Christian country until the 1960’s. This is ridiculous, but it is the widely believed view.

Evangelicals see three aspects of culture that frighten them:

1) An overall cultural decline, particularly in areas of family, community, entertainment and institutional life that were traditionally very deeply influenced by Christian belief.

For example, evangelicals are largely in a fearful retreat and abandonment of the public school system in America. As recently as my experience in the early 70s, most Christians were in public schools and many would choose careers in public school careers. Today, alternatives in private Christian schools and by those who homeschool are increasingly the norm.

Evangelicals feel that public schools have become unsafe, hostile, politicized and far inferior in quality. There is nothing on which the average evangelical feels more strongly than the threat that exists in culture to their own children.

2) The increasing tolerance and diversity in America that give cultural influence to non-Christian religions, atheism, homosexuality and militant secularism.

Few Christians are out and out racists or bigots, but there is a reason that most evangelical churches, schools and institutions reflect a narrow sample of race and a narrower diversity of views. Evangelicals are determined that what they think happened in the mainline churches — cultural accommodation followed by apostasy — will not happen to them, but the visible result looks exclusive, white, and middle-class.

Contemporary evangelicalism finds it very easy to turn the culture and the culture-shapers into the enemies of the faith, and the rhetoric of the “culture war” is dominating evangelicalism at every level, This increasingly makes evangelism and missional church life difficult for many evangelicals.

In fact, I’m amazed at how many Christians seem to believe that arguing and lobbying about social and cultural issues is “evangelism” and “a good witness.” In many ways, it appears that some popular theological movements today find part of their appeal in a despair over culture and a kind of hopelessness about the future of culture.

Christians are the primary buyers of the literature and media of apocalyptic fear. The Left Behind video game portrays the kind of future scenario that many American evangelicals find inevitable: fighting unbelievers in order to survive. The “What Would Jesus Do?” question seems to be far less important than, “What will we do when the culture turns on us?”

3) The prevailing power of culture to shape thinking, values and character.

Evangelicals have been trying to shelter themselves from worldly culture and its particular temptations for most of their history. The worst whippin’ I ever got from my dad happened after telling him I’d played cards in church. Anxieties over movies, books, television, celebrities and, now, the internet, have always been part of evangelicalism. We are convinced that the world will draw us in, take away our faith, and turn us into drunks and criminals if we don’t fight.

Of course, in this kind of atmosphere, fear-mongering and fear motivating is common. For example, most recently critics of Christians in public schools have brought forward statistical proof that Christian teenagers in public schools are highly likely to abandon their faith. Ironically, most of the Christian parents reading and heeding those studies are products of public schools.

Are the studies wrong? My career in youth ministry tells me they are outrageously wrong, but I understand why such studies are gaining influence: they tell evangelicals that their fears are reasonable.

I want to close this post with one observation and two suggestions.

The observation is that younger evangelicals are getting over this, and that fact is causing even more anxiety in some quarters. A generation of missional leaders are doing church in a very different way, seeing culture as something to be used, understood and taken over for the sake of Christ. This is risky business, and not everyone is doing it equally well.

Some evangelicals have capitulated to the worst aspects of culture, while others are demonstrating Biblical wisdom and incarnational humility in navigating culture. I’m praying these missionaries to western culture are fabulously successful, and we see a turnaround from fear to Biblical engagement and discernment.

My first suggestion is that evangelicals find ways to take the posture of servants, rather than victims, within culture. We are paying a price for the culture war rhetoric that has been embraced by the church. Many of our fellow Americans are convinced that we are a militant movement with the goal of political domination. They hear us speaking of them as the enemy. We need to reverse this, and confess that God has put us here to be witnesses and servants in any way that promotes the gospel.

The second suggestion is that we take another look at culture and realize it is not identical with all the negative connotations of “world.” Ed Stetzer has reminded us that culture is the house our neighbors live in, and the rhetoric of burning down a house rarely accomplishes very much. A stronger belief in common grace, a more consistent look for common ground, and a frequent celebration of our common humanity could all be helpful in living as strangers, but not enemies, with those in our surrounding culture.

Comments

  1. Dave Greene says

    “We are convinced that the world will draw us in, take away our faith, and turn us into drunks and criminals if we don’t fight.”

    I think the world has drawn evangelicals in but by way different way than they feared and fought against. The evangelical church has sometimes fought the world using the weapons of the world and to the extent they have done so have become like the world. My opinion only.

    • better a drunk and a criminal rather than a fearful minion obsessed with being ‘persecuted’

      • Drunks and criminals flocked to Jesus. The religious types who obsessed with being persecuted by the Romans, however…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It’s called “Of the World But Not In It”.

  2. Iain Lovejoy says

    “Many of our fellow Americans are convinced that we are a militant movement with the goal of political domination. They hear us speaking of them as the enemy. We need to reverse this, and confess that God has put us here to be witnesses and servants in any way that promotes the gospel.”
    Prophetic indeed. Unfortunately, far from following this advice, it seems evangelical leadership in the US has decided to *become* “a militant movement with the goal of political domination”.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “””Many of our fellow Americans are convinced that we . . . We need to reverse this”””

      The first part WAS TRUE – that was the problem. 🙁 Those of us who were hoping for a change of course entirely missed the point.

  3. Part of the reason for this is the difficulty Christians in America have in coming to terms with their privileged history in this country. To Christians of other times and places, contemporary America looks like an evangelical empire. Even Roman Catholicism in America is increasingly influenced by evangelicalism. But to American evangelicals, America seems like a place where secularists and anti-Christians are being given unprecedented power to limit Christian belief and impose their vision of culture on the children of Christians. This is because the culture is changing in reference to our past, a cultural past that is mythologically presented as an idealized Christian country until the 1960’s. This is ridiculous, but it is the widely believed view.

    This is where MAGA comes from, and resonates with American Christians. It’s truly amazing how clearly Michael saw these things, despite being immersed in the same American Christian world himself, and from his childhood. Based on what he is saying here, if he were alive today, he would be aghast at how much further the church has become involved in the culture war he observed in 2007, and how thoroughly politicized it has become. Imagine what he would say now.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And as the Righteous Paranoia became more and more intense, the Vast Secular Humanist Conspiracy outside the Bubble darker and scarier (and Jesus hadn’t Raptured them up to a Heavenly Safe Place…), they looked for a Messiah to save them from all Satan’s Heathen (and HOMOSEXUALS). A REAL Messiah who’ll Get The Job Done.

      And in 2016 they found one.

      “They will call upon the Strong Man. And the Strong Man will come.”
      — main demonic bad guy, some spiritual-warfare novel from the Seventies

      • Christiane says

        ‘what rough beast, his hour come round at last,
        slouches towards Bethlehem to be born . . . ‘

        (W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’ written in 1919,
        a hundred years ago, in Ireland, where the ‘thin places’
        are plentiful )

  4. “critics of Christians in public schools have brought forward statistical proof that Christian teenagers in public schools are highly likely to abandon their faith.”

    Swap out “public schools” and swap in “Christian primary schools and homeschools”, and it might be more accurate.

  5. senecagriggs says

    Monday: another opportunity to rip Evangelicals.

    • If the shoe fits, wear it.

    • My own comment didn’t mention evangelicals, but American Christianity, because I believe the attitude of culture war that Michael is talking about has become powerfully influential, if not pervasive, in the Protestant mainline and Roman Catholic churches too, not among the leadership, but in the laity.

    • …which is like saying that because the famous Iwo Jima photo was staged, WWII didn’t happen.

    • Seneca, I would call it more of a thoughtful critique from an evangelical about his own tribe. As one author put it, a lover’s quarrel with the evangelical church.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But when “one’s own tribe” Can Do No Wrong…

        • Dave Greene says

          But wasn’t Michael Spencer an Evangelical? It seems that would then not be the case of outsiders picking on the faith.

          • Christiane says

            Michael opened an infected wound on the whole ‘Body of Christ’, which needed to be lanced.

            reformer?
            prophet ?

            I don’t know. But I think he was trying to help the whole Church by not keeping silent about what he saw as ‘the problem’, and in that respect, I wish more people had listened to him.

            The whole Church needs a lot more Michael Spencers. He was a blessing.

    • Naughty naughty iMonk, clearly a man who had NO experience of evangelicalism & has no right to criticise evangelical culture on his own blog.

      Of course, your blog is only about critiquing the Wartburg Watch, so freedom of speech when it comes to looking at what you perceive to be others’ religious faults is unknown to you – dryly.

    • Senecagriggs,

      What specifically IS being ‘ripped’?

  6. “Christians are the primary buyers of the literature and media of apocalyptic fear.”

    I don’t think this is quite right. Evangelicals are the primary buyers of literature of religious apocalypse, but there are other sorts of apocalypse.

    There is a substantial body of “prepper porn” in which civil society collapses, typically due to something like a foreign power using high altitude nuclear weapons to destroy the power grid and electronic equipment. (This is, by the way, based on real physics, but not actually how it works.) In the prepper porn novel, Our Hero survives through personal toughness, and above all due to prior planning, having stocked up on food and weapons.

    There also is a strain of apocalyptic literature within mainstream science fiction. Consider the popular 1970s novel “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. There civilization is destroyed by a comet strike. Pockets of civilization survive by toughness and brains, with individuals who read a lot having what had formerly been a bunch of useless knowledge, but is now vitally important. This is a grander version of Captain Kirk defeating the gorn by knowing the recipe for gunpowder. (Also not how it actually works, by the way.)

    In both cases, the literature flatters a certain sort of reader: the one perceptive enough to stock up on food and guns; or the one with a broad base of useless knowledge. Religious apocalyptic literature of the “Left Behind” sort flatter its readers for their righteousness. These are all variants of the same thing.

    • It is an interesting cultural phenomenon.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1

        A study of “Apocalypse as flattery” would a fun and interesting read.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Some years ago, I had an epiphany that Atlas Shrugged and Left Behind et al were the same story (and written with the same Author Self-Insert bad fanfic quality), just pitched to and fanservicing different target audiences. Both Apocalyptic Escape Fantasy followed by Revenge Fantasy flattering “You, Dear Reader, are RIGHT!”

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            I feel there is a lot of that in Peretti’s fiction as well, even if it is not specifically apocalyptic.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Regarding “prepper porn”, its initial peak was “Survivalists” during the Reagan years. Lotsa Bad Craziness there & then.

      Lotsa 400+lb tubs of lard wearing a couple Goerings worth of stolen valor and showing off stashes of firearms & ammunition getting interviewed on the media. Lotsa pronouncements like “When Push Comes to Shove (any day now…), The Only Food Source in the Cities Will Be Human Flesh. Prepare to Do What Must Be Done to SURVIVE!!!!!”

      And their remnants in the Nineties… I remember getting lectured at length about “Worthless Gubmint Fiat Currency” and “Gold! Gold! Gold! Guns!” immediately followed by “HUG!!! I NEED to ‘Borrow” More MONEY!!!!!!”

      Like I said, Bad Craziness.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      There is also a strain of apocalyptic literature within mainstream science fiction.

      Which YouTube’s Extra Sci-Fi channel on covered in their most recent season, “Dystopia and Apocalypse” (episodes 46-54 of this playlist):
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5AuEhpcGAo4ngmSDKuFgZZx

      Apocalypses covered:
      * Earth Abides (the establisher)
      * A Canticle for Leibowitz (the biggie)
      * I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (the weird)

      Dystopias covered:

      * Brave New World (sideline We)
      * 1984
      * Fahrenheit 451
      * Player Piano(?)
      * Clockwork Orange
      * Stand on Zanzibar

      • Dave Greene says

        Earth Abides disturbed me for very many days after I read it. How fragile civilization truly is.

        • Dave Greene says

          On another note:

          Imagine that those hoping for yet also fearing and preparing for the coming Apocalypse actually create a dystopia that could have been avoided.

    • Speaking of apocalypse, I take you all on a minor segue…

      Some of you might find this an interesting read. I was a freshman in college when “Apocalypse Now” came out, Up to that point, I had led a pretty sheltered, naïve life. Seeing this film in the theater had a life-changing impact on me. As the author says, “I found it hypnotic, harrowing, and also very exciting. It made me feel like a grown man, watching that film. This was a movie of complex questions…”

      All my life, I’d had some glorified notions of war. Not after watching this.

      Good essay.

      http://www.lookingcloser.org/blog/2019/08/23/apocalypse-then-again-and-now/

      • “Apocalypse Now” was based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, which takes place in 19th century colonial Africa. It is a harrowing read based on Conrad’s own experiences in the Belgian Congo on a Belgian steamer. Up until reading HoD, I had glorified notions of Western civilization — not after reading it.

        • –> ““Apocalypse Now” was based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, which takes place in 19th century colonial Africa.”

          Yep. And when I hear people say “The Vietnam War was nothing like what’s depicted in Apocalypse Now,” I just tell them they need to watch it as a parable, not as literal.

          If you read the full article I posted, you’ll see where the author goes with this idea. And similarly to how some of us see Michael Spencer as a semi-prophet, it paints Francis Ford Coppola as a semi-prophet, too.

    • Dave Greene says

      Prepper port and Apocalyptic Fear are not mutually exclusive. Combine them and you get Jim Bakker and his “food buckets” which, I hear, tase like barf 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But they’re CHRISTIAN(TM) rice and beans!
        For The Great Tribulation!

        (Once a grifter, always a grifter…)

  7. “Evangelicals feel that public schools have become unsafe, hostile, politicized and far inferior in quality.”

    The county where I live is an interesting exception. It is a Republican county in a Democratic state, largely white with its share of the usual range of churches you would expect. There is one “Christian” school, but its student body is only a tiny fraction of the total number of students in the county. Most Evangelical parents are happy to send their kids to public schools, which goes far toward maintaining support for adequately funding them.

    I wondered about this, then it dawned on me that the one “Christian” school is also in the one part of the county with a substantial black population. The school was founded in 1973: right on schedule for parents to grow concerned that their kid might have to share a classroom with a bunch of Those People. The number of Those People in the rest of the county was low enough that should one or two show up in the classroom they would be sufficiently outnumbered that we can feel good about how inclusive we are, without feeling threatened.

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Prescient indeed!

    I would offer one IMNSHO important, overlooked, critique regarding “Culture War” and like rhetoric: it talks about The Culture as if there were **A** Culture. There isn’t. When talking about The Culture it is very easy to miss or lose one’s credibility.

    I’ve read a lot of this kind of thing; and I read a paragraph while sitting on my porch, or in a seat on the bus or train, and I look around . . . can’t help but think: is what this person describing Real? It very often feels like a unique amalgamation of cherry picked what-not which exists only in the mind of the author. And this is triple true for many Religious writers; I would be very worried by the cultural directions they describe – if I saw them. It is too often a silly side-ism heavy caricature.

    • ““Culture War” and like rhetoric… talks about The Culture as if there were **A** Culture. There isn’t. ”

      True, but for a long time, middle-class WASPs could pretend that their culture was THE culture, and ignore/suppress/appropriate any competition. Now that they are starting to lose the power to do that, they are freaking out.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Pretty much.

        There are some smart literate people who fall into the A-Culture cliche/trap. I suppose that has to do with the epidemic of Both-Sideism [implying there are, exactly, TWO sides]; still, there are so many people who are smart enough to know better.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Because middle-class WASP culture was the default mainstream and zero point for measuring all the others.

  9. Deleted thread initiated by Seneca re: climate denial. Off topic.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      But is tangentially-related.
      As in “Part of the Package Deal”/another Ideological Litmus Test for Salvation.

  10. This is a tough subject to address as history gives us no helpful yardstick to measure with as it does in most cases. We have a civilization Western Civilization built on the foundation of Christian values and moral teachings. Then the country in which I live USA, was founded on Christianity as seen in the eyes of the founders and the population during our first two centuries. Now with the advent of mass communication, change and freedom of access to platforms and coupled with economic freedom we are in a brave new world. I do not disagree with what Mr. Spencer observed as it is evident when he wrote it and it has accelerated. What concerns me is a set of values, beliefs, and moral conduct is being abandoned with no workable replacement. To sum up one of my thoughts the old adage ” you know better than this” and “do the right thing” are now subjective.
    Another way to put who is do not forget who brought you to the dance. Look at Hong Kong events , they are based on the cornerstone of Christianity that is strong in a Communist country. My sister is a long term Baptist, her church organization recently installed Critical Race Theory into a tool for the denomination to use. This may be a great thing or it may be end of their organization as time goes by. Culture wars have more than one side waging it. What is the culture war in Hong Kong. The secular culture war has the entertainment business, the music business, the media for the most part and of course the internet on its side. Think we know for sure who is going to lose the cultural war. I believe Mr Spencer would be surprised at how quickly the culture war is being lost by the Christians.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Critical Race Theory supplies the philosophical underpinnings for individuals and groups to become open, unapologetic white supremacists, with nothing but the disapproval of the wider society to restrain them.

      Seeing the way the Chinese and the Indians behave in Africa, white supremacy may be a rather minor problem in a couple more generations.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Critical Race Theory”?
        First I’ve heard of the term.
        Sure it isn’t the newest coat of paint for Scientific Racism?

    • “We have a civilization Western Civilization built on the foundation of Christian values and moral teachings. Then the country in which I live USA, was founded on Christianity as seen in the eyes of the founders and the population during our first two centuries.”

      This is a poor reading of history. You should go back and read the early criticism of our “godless” Constitution by the clergy of the day. It never mentions God and the only reference to religion is to forbid religious tests for office. Adams and Jefferson were explicit about their intentions. This country was intended as a secular republic. It’s philosophical foundation was the Enlightenment, not the New Testament.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > This is a poor reading of history

        America was founded on a clear devotion to Mercantilism, and its founders were financiers, smugglers, and racketeers.

        The Religious too often see only the Religious aspects of history and neglect the other aspects of history, particularly the economics.

        > It’s philosophical foundation

        I would go further and say it really had no “philosophical foundation”, and philosophical foundations are rare things, most commonly appropriated when convenient.

        • Don’t be too cynical. Our Founders were True Believers of a sort. They had ideals. But they were also men of the world and practiced politicians. They knew which side of the bread the butter is on and they got what they could. If we fail it’s nobody else’s fault but our own.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        This is a poor reading of history.

        More like a Mythic reading-into of history.

        “We Spartans are descended from Hercules himself.”
        — 300

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > her church organization recently installed Critical Race Theory

      What does that mean? They officially appropriated it as a doctrine, they teach it, etc…?

    • “We have a civilization Western Civilization built on the foundation of Christian values and moral teachings.”

      It’s not that simple. Christian values and morals are one stream, true, but there are also elements of Roman law and ethics (including ironclad patriarchy and deference to the rich and powerful), Germanic (including notions of crude democracy and common law), amongst others. Just seeing it all as “judeo-Christian” can blind one to the points where that civilization wildly veers from the standards Christ set in His teachings.

    • “the country in which I live USA, was founded on Christianity as seen in the eyes of the founders and the population during our first two centuries”

      More obfuscation. The Founders drew far more upon Greek and Roman precedents, and English Common Law, than they did any “biblical” patterns. The Puritans were long out of power by the time of the Revolution.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > The Puritans were long out of power by the time

        We teach a hyper compressed version of American History.

        One can barely fault a young student from assuming that George Washington’s mother came over on the Mayflower.

      • now, now, the descendants of the Puritans still rule:

        look at the names of their present descendants at Deerfield Academy and Andover, and all the other WASP prep schools

        look at the names of board members of all the largest companies

        you may have people six or seven generations from their Puritan forebears, but the Puritan DNA is a strong force in them still

        The Puritan$ were always and ever a $eriously con$ervative lot . . . . that quality remains in their de$cendants

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          you may have people six or seven generations from their Puritan forebears, but the Puritan DNA is a strong force in them still

          Time has simply removed all God-Talk from their Puritanism, while leaving all the other parts.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “We have a civilization Western Civilization built on the foundation of Christian values and moral teachings.”

      I don’t think this is right. Western Civilization is the civilization of Greece and Rome. Christianity was grafted onto the Roman imperium late in the game. Christianity adapted to Rome a whole lot more than Rome adapted to Christianity. It only looks like Western Civilization is Christian because of the change in what we think Christianity looks like.

    • “I believe Mr Spencer would be surprised at how quickly the culture war is being lost by the Christians.”
      No, I look around and hear and see what many churches are preaching, how their adherents are living, and who they seem to hate most, and I’d say that Christians have, by and large, lost the culture war via suicide.

      • Your comment reminded me of yesterday’s post about “The Gospel of Hope.” Our ability (collective Christianity) to turn the Good News into something other than “The Gospel of Hope” would have Jesus rolling over in his grave if he was still there.

        I recently attended a Christian conference in which the speakers had some great nuggets of wisdom and truth. Like these two:

        1) No one gets saved through condemnation.
        2) It’s a sin to make the Gospel boring (to others).

        I think the evangelical movement lost its way when it became more condemning of others during its “culture war” fight.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I’d say that Christians have, by and large, lost the culture war via suicide.

          “Only Fundamentalists could turn a Father’s welcome-home party for his wayward son into a Fascist rally.”

    • –> “We have a civilization Western Civilization built on the foundation of Christian values and moral teachings.”

      As others have pointed out, this is probably a misconception, and one that evangelicals continue to point to as their reason for continuing their battle against the changing culture. But if Western Civilization had TRULY been built upon Christian values and moral teachings, things like the Crusades and slavery would’ve never been a part of it. Instead, Christian “values” were more like a façade to hide more worldly motives and desires (power, money, territory).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Instead, Christian “values” were more like a façade to hide more worldly motives and desires (power, money, territory).

        In the words of that pesky Rabbi from Nazareth,
        “Making long prayers for justification”?

    • –> “Culture wars have more than one side waging it. What is the culture war in Hong Kong. The secular culture war has the entertainment business, the music business, the media for the most part and of course the internet on its side.”

      True. But I’d offer that Christ’s solution is not to attack the culture we find ourselves surrounded by, but to offer two ideas for others to contemplate:

      1) How’s that (the current culture) working for you?
      2) When you realize its a dead-end, come and let me tell you about the Gospel of Hope.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And you’d better hope they haven’t already been vaccinated against it by the other weaponized Gospel that’s beaten them down.

  11. How times change! When I was a young fellow rock-n-roll was the devil’s music and now we have Christian Heavy Metal bands. How many sermons have I heard growing up about “worldly compromise”? But in the end, who plays the infamous “victim card” better than evangelicals? Who does “identity politics” with greater skill?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is only “identity politics” when it is not your identity. 🙂

    • –> “But in the end, who plays the infamous “victim card” better than evangelicals? ”

      Well, these days the offended are EVERYWHWERE, but yes, the “We are being PERSECUTED!!” is tossed about a little too easily.

      • Christiane says

        persecuted how?

        someone calls B.S. on them for supporting a monster who is a seriously flawed bully of little children,
        and THEY feel ‘persecuted’ ????

        honestly, some people can dish it out and expect to be allowed to be ‘offensive’, but when someone calls B.S on them, they can’t handle the criticism
        ?

        well, if THEIR innocent children were to be put through what their ‘enemy’ children are enduring, you had better believe I would support them against the bullying of their children;

        but don’t ask me to feel sorry for the supporters of a monster, no.
        flat no

        that’s all I have to say

  12. I have been reading Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family. It’s also a documentary on Netflix. It’s eye opening on the beginnings of religious, pseudo-Christian influences in politics. It’s deep and it’s strong and it’s mostly off the radar. It’s also frightening.
    I highly recommend it.

  13. senecagriggs says

    I worry some about EMPs – and it’s not even a particular threat to Evangelicals per se.
    _______-

    I live in a large city; nobody is growing veggies in their back yards – you just run to the nearest grocery store where they scan this rectangular plastic card and remove money [ but not cash ] from your back account which actually is just a number – no cash involved.

    IF the grid goes down; there will be NO DELIVERY of foods.

    Also, though I have a brackish stream running thru my backyard, it ain’t potable. I looked into digging a well [ which is fairly easy given we basically live on sand, ] but our neighborhood is all septic systems and you don’t want your well any closer than 75 feet from the septic field.

    We’re screwed..

    Do I stay up late worrying about this? No.

    Is it a real ;possibility? I think so.

    BUT, I’m well past my prime and if that’s how I am to die – God is good; all the time.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      IF the grid goes down; there will be NO DELIVERY of foods.

      And as the Eighties Survivalists put it:
      “Within a week after Push Comes to Shove, the most plentiful food source in the cities will become Human Flesh.”

  14. –> “BUT, I’m well past my prime and if that’s how I am to die – God is good; all the time.”

    Though I find comfort in cliches like “God is good, all the time,” I also struggle with the mentality of “if the world burns, I’m okay.” This popped up in my recent study of Isaiah, in which the “remnant” is promised all this wonderful stuff FOLLOWING some absolutely awful devastation. Forgive me, God, but I’ll find it somewhat problematic to be shouting Hallelujah while watching everyone else suffer.

    So for me, I pray God holds off the ugliness. There are too many people I love and too many innocent children throughout the world who will suffer if the earth suffers some sort of global catastrophe.

    In other words, Seneca, think of more than just yourself here. Aren’t you troubled by the impact such a thing would have on children and people who aren’t past their prime?

    • Christiane says

      ” Forgive me, God, but I’ll find it somewhat problematic to be shouting Hallelujah while watching everyone else suffer.”

      I totally get this, yes.

    • senecagriggs says

      Rick, I have a profound and bedrock belief in the Sovereignty of God.

      In the providence of God, a plane may crash killing all unbelievers on board and saving believers, OR the plane may crash killing All believers on board and saving the unbelievers.

      About the only thing I actually have control of is my attitude
      __________-

      “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

      And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes” Chuck Swindoll
      ______________

      I can’t control my grandchildren’s futures. God will do that; I will trust in His justice and righteousness.

      • I totally agree with you, we are responsible for our own attitudes, but again I ask, “Aren’t you troubled by the impact such a thing would have on children and people who aren’t past their prime?” I mean, unless you’re a robot, doesn’t the thought of worldwide destruction cause you SOME sort of angst for those who’ll suffer through it?

        • There is an air of not just fatalism but nihilism in some understandings of Christianity. I suspect that some (some!) of the Romans were referring to this, not necessarily the martyrs, when they claimed that Christians hated life. I can’t help but imagine that the same kind of attitude toward the existence of the world that senecagriggs has was also that of at least some of the early Christians.

          • –> “There is an air of not just fatalism but nihilism in some understandings of Christianity.”

            I see it more as selfish. “I’m saved, that’s all that matters when the s*** hits the fan.” Well, yeah, but… Geez, do you think that’s very Christ-like???

            • But the scorn for the condition of the world, and everyone and everything else it it! A maximal inflation of the self as the center of one’s concern leaves no room for concern for the existence of anyone or anything else. Perhaps that is not nihilism, you’re probably right, but there it is a complete indifference to the life of the world.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              It’s the expected end state of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

              As long as your personal Fire Insurance policy is in effect,
              “This World Is NOT My Home, I’m Just Passin’ Thru”.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I totally agree with you, we are responsible for our own attitudes, but again I ask, “Aren’t you troubled by the impact such a thing would have on children and people who aren’t past their prime?”

          There’s something called “The Death Bet”.
          Betting that The End will not come until after you, so why not?
          i.e. “Everything’s gonna go south, but I’ll be gone by then so that’ll be YOUR problem!”

          I had it pulled on me in the early Nineties, but until a month or two ago I didn’t know it actually had a name.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I have a profound and bedrock belief in the Sovereignty of God.

        So did Calvin and Mohammed.

        • He has a profound and bedrock belief that having a profound and bedrock belief in the Sovereignty of God (or at least saying that he does) will get God on his side.

  15. senecagriggs says

    No honest engagement today – Just Jibes, jest and attempted shaming in response to my very real beliefs.

    . Actually, that is what I expect of the majority of the I-monkers.- preferred communication is throwing stones.

    I knew C.M. was wasting his time the other day. My cynicism towards my fellow man is quite marked; for good reason as exhibited in the last several posts.

    But that’s Internetmonk.

    • Seneca, you are particularly grumpy today. I just wish you’d engage in the discussion rather than throw out contrary assertions and complaints. I would love to hear a strong, thoughtful evangelical argument debating what Michael had to say here.

      • “I would love to hear a strong, thoughtful evangelical argument debating what Michael had to say here.”

        Seconded.

    • That’s rich. And you wonder why it’s hard to take you seriously? You have been given a lot leeway on this site by commenters and Chaplain Mike.

    • I apologize for my last couple comments, senecagriggs, particularly for talking about you as if you weren’t in the room and couldn’t hear. I should speak to you rather than about you.

    • Huh? How have my questions to you not been engaging you in conversation?

    • Or you are potentially reaping what you’ve sown, both here & on other sites? Just a thought. If you don’t want to provoke people, why are most of your comments provocative rather than discursive? It was ever thus.