Post Culture War America

November 19, 2012

Recently, Ed Stetzer posted several of his thoughts about the political and cultural outlook for America.flag_cross_525

Among his many predictions, he tentatively called the end of the culture war.

Like, he didn’t call for the end of the culture war.  Like watching an election map take shape and realizing that the paths to victory are narrowing, Stetzer called the culture war over.  

And he says we’ve lost.  Our path to victory has closed.

With multiple states passing referenda that would be opposite of the typical evangelical agenda, he says it’s time to prepare to live in post-culture-war America.

If you think that means hunkering in your basement until the apocalypse, here’s what I think.

The Culture War Is Already Over

If you think that the re-election of the President is the final harbinger of America going straight to hell, then you are behind the times.  The culture war will not be lost in 2012 or 2013.  The culture war has been lost for a long time, longer than anyone wants to admit.  At this point, culture warriors are a bit like those stories you hear about the last Japanese soldiers defending their posts, not knowing that WWII was over for years.

Pagans Gonna Do What Pagans Do

If there is one thing I have realized by reading history, it is this:

People have always been attracted to things that are not good for them.  People will always find ways to hurt themselves.  It does not matter what laws and controls are placed on people, they will find loopholes.  Failing that, they will find something, equal or worse to do.  This is the central flaw of trying to win a culture war with laws and lawsuits.  People are going to do what people do.  When have Christians ever won a culture war?  I’m not sure such a term existed until the 21st century.

The Wrong Hill To Die On

If you ask me, (and I don’t know if you are), we have been tricked into dying on a lot of hills that just don’t matter.  We are fighting, battling, bloodying each other on issues that are tertiary.  A hill always seems big when you are standing on it.  But not when you see it from a birds-eye view.

Prohibition looked like a big enough hill to die on in the 20s.  That turned out to be a disaster.  (And it proves my second point.  If people want something, they will get it.)

Take any sacred cow you want in the culture war.  It is probably an idol that is just a distraction.  And that goes for the biggest sacred cows. You know the one I’m talking about (I’ll let you guess.)

Christian Soldiers, Retreat

Old Testament prophets looked forward to a time when God’s people would be at peace in the land.  They would beat their spears into plowshares and stop fighting their enemies.

I am pretty downright disgusted with Christians who proclaimed that their presidential vote was informed by gospel reasons, and that goes for my conservative and liberal friends.  The gospel is not spread by governments, be they Republican or Democrat.  You can elect people who you think will restore the middle class or provide more benefits to the poor, but neither has anything to do with the gospel of grace, and you are fooling yourselves if you think otherwise.

If we want peace in our culture, we have to be the ones to lay down our weapons.  Peace doesn’t come when our enemies agree with us.  Peace happens when we realize that we cannot change people with war.  We can only change people with the gospel.  God does not save nations, He saves people.  A culture is not “won.”  Hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit.

We should stop trying to save something that God will burn as chaff anyway.

Is the culture war officially over?  Have we been tricked, or is it more important than ever to win back our culture?

 

14 responses to Post Culture War America

  1. Couldn’t agree more. When we try to make our culture live by our rules, bible rules, rules that they never signed up for and don’t believe, we will always be disappointed. The NT era Roman empire was as secular and non Christian as any culture ever but the church flourished in spite of it. It is the same in china. The power of the church is not in the right political leaders but in the local gatherings where Jesus followers are radically following Him. The world is changed by a modern version of disciples; people who are no account to the world but are empowered by God’s spirit.

  2. Good word Matt. I think Christians fall into culture wars because they somehow feel it is evangelism. But in fact it is not and they are actually only offending people and causing them to have a harder time hearing the gospel from people who actually are doing evangelism. It actually causes more work for christians who do evangelism who have to take time to deconstruct what christians in the culture war have constructed as christian. Good grief I am not awake yet. Does that make sense??

  3. God judges nations because of their practices, and those are determined by the leaders of a nation. So there is a very big reason to vote based on your Biblical views. We should be voting republican in order to oppose abortion. That one issue, the murder of the unborn, trumps every other issue we deal with in politics right now.

    I think you are right that we lost the culture war a long time ago. Christians allowed Atheists to control the media and entertainment industries, and they use those to preach their religion of godlessness.

    The biggest issue is Biblical authority. When the church started teaching that the Genesis account of creation was a lie, that the naturalistic/Atheistic history of the universe was scientific fact, the church lost the right to be believed – because they didn’t even believe the Bible themselves.

    When Christians start teaching people that all of the Bible is true, starting with Genesis, then we will be preaching the true gospel. To that end, I recommend visiting http://www.answersingenesis.org/

    • I guess I don’t understand why we’re fighting a culture war in the first place (and am gratified to see that other commenters feel the same). “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I don’t believe in trying to exert control or authority over anyone outside the construct of the Church. To wit:

      “Christians allowed Atheists to control the media and entertainment industries”

      I find that statement puzzling. Why should we, as Christians, have a priority of “allowing” anyone to do anything? It seems to me that if we focus less on controlling others’ behavior (through legislation or otherwise), we can focus more on fulfilling Jesus’ command to love others as ourselves. And to love our enemies; not to judge, censure or legislate their behavior.

      Thanks, Matt, for the thoughtful (and thought-provoking) post – and to the commenters for being willing to share and disagree in love and respect.

  4. A lot of what you said here is why I lean toward libertarianism. Why try to legislate godliness? I’m pretty sure God did that with Israel, and we see how well that turned out. We shouldn’t expect people without the Holy Spirit to live by laws which come from the Holy Spirit. Let’s try to love, not legislate, people into the kingdom.

    • Hi Shawn, you asked, “Why try to legislate godliness?” The fact is, we will have to live under someone’s legislation, either it will be godly or ungodly. It should be obvious that as Christians we would prefer a society with godly legislation.

      You also said, “I’m pretty sure God did that with Israel, and we see how well that turned out. We shouldn’t expect people without the Holy Spirit to live by laws which come from the Holy Spirit.” Actually things turned out very well with Israel when they obeyed the word of God, in the times that they didn’t, you could say that the people were “legislating in an ungodly way.” Following that, why should we expect people with the Holy Spirit to live by laws which come from Satan? You see, someone will be in control, and as Christians we should want it to be the Holy Spirit instead of Satan.

      Lastly, you said, “Let’s try to love, not legislate, people into the kingdom.” I agree. We are not trying to legislate people into salvation. However, godly laws will help them see Christ’s morality and the value it has. A society governed by Satan’s laws will meet this fate:

      Genesis 6:5-7
      5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
      6 ¶ And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
      7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

  5. Very timely. We’re battling things that are already foregone conclusions (ie Roe v Wade). Its time to realize that the word evangel means “good news, something that someone would like to hear”. I pray we leave our punditry behind…

  6. Boom goes the dynamite. Lot of sharp people around here — well said by Michael H above. Gotta leave that daggum antagonistic punditry behind.

  7. Obviously, Christians have been unprecedentedly successful in culture wars worldwide. That’s why there are two billion Christians and everyone in the industrialized world has heard of Jesus.

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