Christians engaged in a “culture war” in America are losing. We are losing not because we haven’t been fighting, but because we refuse to rise up and fight with the correct weapons. We are losing not because we don’t have the weapons–we do–but because we are misusing them at best, or simply deciding not to use them at all. Many Christians are fighting on the side of the devil himself.
Many American Christians have taken up the same evangelism used by secular political and social revolutionaries, which produces none of the elements that engage the human spirit and capture the world by grace. Evangelism by prescriptive and repetitive chanting has the same effect as the 400 prophets of Baal experienced in 1 Kings 20.
The greatest evangelist is always a radical convert. The convert fights for the cause, and never stops telling the world how it happened to them. A recent non-smoker, a recent fitness devotee, a recent vegan, or a newly “woke” liberal are as relentless as any street-corner preacher in their zeal.
We live in a nation increasingly populated by evangelists, who rely on the aphorism “my experience beats your argument every time.” For every cause, there’s no shortage of experiences, opinions, and borne on the epistemological back of that belief, a whole doctrine, canon, and catechism burgeons forth like a well-watered seed.
In the early 20th century, former hard-bitten skeptic turned Christian convert G.K. Chesterton wrote on the topic of belief:
There may have been a time when people found it easy to believe in anything. But we are finding it vastly easier to disbelieve anything. [Illustrated London News, March 21, 1914]
It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense. [“The Oracle of the Dog” (1923)]
You hard-shelled materialists were all balanced on the very edge of belief — of belief in almost anything. [“The Miracle of Moon Crescent” (1924)]
But opposite the head end of the arrow tipped with experience is the feathered tail of rational thought. Without the feathering, the arrow has no directional control; it becomes a vector with an uncertain direction and no definite destination. When rational thought directing a political or societal manifesto offered with religious fervor is abandoned for pure evangelism and no apologetic, we end up with where America finds itself in 2020.
We are at a crossroads, because both the religious church and the political church in America have stripped arrows to nothing more than featherless darts, and engaged in a “culture war” flinging missiles in all directions but lacking the essential truth of the Gospel. The Bible speaks of “fiery darts” of the enemy, and the church is engaging in friendly fire using the enemy’s arsenal. Those without the armor of God–salvation, peace, truth, and the Gospel–are suffering friendly fire.
We don’t need fancy words or political arguments to win. The world itself is evidence enough to strike to the heart of the issue of sin.
The Scripture says in Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In Romans 1, Paul wrote that the unbeliever is without excuse, because “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”
Mathematics, a purely rational construct of the human mind, perfectly predicts and mirrors our physical world. In fact, the epistemological nexus of philosophy, mathematics, and astrophysics is so strongly joined together, that in 1993 physicist Paul Davies ended his 256-page book “The Mind of God,” musing that the finely-tuned constants, relationships, and intelligence of this universe must surely point to the conclusion that we were meant to be here.
From that, it’s easy to build the logical case:
The universe exists as an independent reality.
We, as part of the universe, were meant by some intelligence to experience that reality.
Therefore, God exists.
Similarly, we can build the proposition:
The people alive today did not commit acts in the past before we inhabited the world.
Evil, injustice, and injury occurred in the past.
Therefore, we must forgive the past.
This should be obvious enough to be self-evident: A transcendent truth, which is true for all people living right now. If the beliefs and doctrines which follow don’t allow you to construct logical propositions and conclusions, which can be successfully tested as hypotheses, you’re believing fairy-tales. The Gospel is fully, and completely testable as a hypothesis. Now is a good time to put it to the test, versus taking up the enemy’s weapons, which only do the enemy’s will.
The current worldly doctrines of cancellation, revolution, “wokeness” and the evangelical fervor (David French calls it “a fundamentalist revival“) run opposite to logical truths. They are destructive, and demonically inspired. The culture war against such fleshly weapons should be easy to win if fought with a rationally consistent, powerfully experiential, and inclusive identity-based philosophical and ethical system. The Gospel fulfills all of these, but Christians aren’t using it.
Before the current crossroads, brought forth in bass relief like the sculpture on Stone Mountain by the COVID-19 economic shutdown (California ordered churches to refrain from singing or chanting), progressive liberal revolutionaries fought for a form of hedonism marked by unlimited sex and abortion, the redefinition of family, and the transfer of economic power from the family to the central state. (If these things seem a familiar dystopian theme, read Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”)
Now the leverage point for evangelism is racism. It’s not like this moment hasn’t been contemplated: I wrote about it four years ago. “With eight years of Obama’s race-baiting and the Left’s digging for racism until they actually find it–now they’ve found it,” I wrote. “They’ve dug deep enough to root out the monster, and in all his ugly glory, Donald Trump has risen from the radioactive muck of pre-civil-rights America.”
The left’s crusaders for a racial revolution want none of the healing and “content of character” talk that Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who believed deeply in the Gospel, advocated. They want nothing more than to pull down a social system and make people suffer because of the color of their skin–only it’s white people. Any many–if not most–of these converts to the BLM cult are white.
Secular evangelism operating without epistemological consistency is nothing more than a cult. On the left, there’s the cult of BLM, the cult of climate change, and on the right, the cult of Trump. The fact that so many evangelical Christians have abandoned rational thought and Biblical truth in order to fight cults by joining a cult is troubling, but that can be corrected if Christians use the correct weapons to fight.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:
By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
No election, no political solution, no protest, no politician, no boycott, will win the culture war. Christians must rise up and fight with the divine weapons of the Gospel. We must fight with grace, mercy, and humility. We must counter hate with love. We must counter violence with gentleness. We must use the laws, morality, and pluralistic roots of America’s founding documents to open up minds and hearts to rational, real, and transcendent truths.
The enemy we fight is not flesh and blood. If we, with our eyes, were to see the enemy in its physical form, we would certainly turn pale and freeze like Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6. Through prayer, study, devotion, and relationship with God, we can have our eyes opened: “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
This is how the Church, the real church, wins the culture war. Everything else is simply the busyness of life. And, to quote my own pastor, “your busyness does not equal progress.”
If we rise up in our faith, study, prayer, and fasting, the Lord will win hearts and minds. It is His will that none perish. Fighting with the enemy’s weapons merely ensures that more will perish. Christians who do this are fighting on the wrong side–they are literally doing the devil’s will, and most times, unknowingly, because they refuse to learn God’s way.
The only way forward is to rise up. Rise up from ignorance to knowledge. Rise up from experience only to rational, coherent truth. Rise up from an eye for an eye to turning the other cheek. Rise up from fighting fire with fire to not casting the first stone. Rise up from shouting “crucify him!” to whispering “Father, forgive them.” Rise up from politics and polemics to prayer.
The church must rise up.