John wrote, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith.”
It seems that the perspective of evangelicals on the culture war lacks that faith.
We fight isolated battles and occasionally win some. Winning the Masterpiece Bakeshop Case currently before the Supreme Court would represent a major victory. However, the long-term trend finds us constantly losing territory. How far we have come from seven decades ago when the day in public schools commenced with Bible reading and prayer, when abortion was illegal, and when the thought of a transgender male being given entrée into a women’s shower room was unthinkable.
For evangelicals today, a return to that culture is also unthinkable. In fact, it is so unthinkable that few evangelicals even think about it. And if we don’t think about it, if we don’t view it as a possibility, then we will never pursue a path to restoring that Christian culture, which means that we will never achieve it. We will shrink our perspective on victory to include only slowing down the juggernaut of the culture of the Left and winning some skirmishes along the way. We view anything beyond that as unthinkable. We see ourselves somewhat in the same circumstances as the Jewish community bottled up in the Warsaw ghetto, with no hope for deliverance but only the prospect of forestalling defeat.
The eyes of faith are not bound by such restrictions but rather can envision actually defeating the Left and winning the culture war, restoring Bible reading and prayer to our classrooms, outlawing abortion, and restoring a modicum of truth to the news media and decency to the entertainment media. Just as Sarah laughed when the Lord told Abraham that she would bear a son at age 99, evangelicals might laugh in their hearts at the thought that such an outcome is possible.
Why should we think it is? The theological answer is that with the Lord, all things are possible. Therefore, the eyes of faith can envision such prospects.
But let me also suggest a reason from history for believing this outcome is a possibility. David Bentley Hart, in his book, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Is Fashionable Enemies, reflecting on how the fledgling early church imposed a Christian culture on the powerful Roman Empire, observes:
… Among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization, whether convulsive or gradual, political or philosophical, social or scientific, material or spiritual, there has been only one—the triumph of Christianity—that can be called in the full sense a “revolution”: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality, so pervasive in its influence and so vast in its consequences as actually to have created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good. To my mind, I should add, it was an event immeasurably more impressive in its cultural creativity and more ennobling in its moral power than any other movement of spirit, will, imagination, aspiration, or accomplishment in the history of the West.[i]
We not only possess the promise of Scripture that God is able to use His church to restore America’s Christian culture, but our faith is bolstered by this real-life historical demonstration of God using His church to achieve just that type of objective.
In Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, I offer another reason to believe that God can achieve the same cultural victory today. As we assess the spiritual, human, and material resources available to the church in America, as we consider the size of the American evangelical church, as we contemplate the roots of our past Christian culture that continue to stubbornly manifest signs of life, it is evident that the evangelical church possesses the power and resources to beat back the Left and restore Christian culture to America. The book explains why we are currently failing to achieve that goal and provides a prescription for attaining it.
As noted above, all this must begin with evangelicals embracing the faith that God can accomplish this victory through His church. Only then will we be motivated to pursue that objective. Let us believe that He can and together begin to pursue that objective.
[i] Hart, David Bentley. Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009, p. xi.