It’s time for another Big Picture Podcast. I’m Joel Fieri, back again to hopefully bring clarity to the mammoth challenges facing today’s Church and greater society.
In light of recent events I think it might help to check in with our not-so-groovy friend the Late ‘Boomer as he gives us his perspective on current events as part of his effort to clean up the societal mess that is the legacy of his generation, the Baby Boomers.
Now that the Supreme Court has landed the latest, seemingly fatal blow to the cultural and political hopes of many who hold a Christian worldview, it’s time for some sober contemplation and assessment of how we got to this point, where we are now and where we go from here.
As a late ‘boomer, my adult life has basically followed the timeline of the “culture wars”, so I’d like to weigh in on these questions with a few observations I’ve gleaned from my vantage point over the years.
As to how we got here, I’d like to challenge a bit of the cultural wisdom out there that we hear repeated an awful lot these days, specifically that Evangelicals and other Christians have somehow brought the wrath of our secular culture down on themselves through misguided political and social efforts and general intolerance through the years.
By concentrating on political and cultural battles, we’ve alienated our culture from the Gospel and now we are paying the price. At an anecdotal level, there’s no doubt truth to this argument, but in the big picture I think it’s hogwash, and I’ll tell you why.
First, while evangelical Christians have been far from perfect in their efforts at influencing culture, you’d be hard pressed to identify another religious group that’s done as well or better. Few have even tried, and many, namely the mainline Protestant denominations, have surrendered to and willingly joined the progressive march to overturn traditional values.
Secondly, it’s a mistake to stick all or even most evangelicals with the label of “cultural antagonists”. The fact is, very few Christians are, or have ever been, politically or culturally active. They may vote, but only a tiny percentage have ever been to a political rally or campaigned for a candidate.
I know I never have.
Most, like me, have had better things to do with the freedom this great country affords us. I’d go as far as to say a case can be made that Christians haven’t been engaged ENOUGH in the battle for our culture. Too many of us have been content to let our schools and media shape our children’s values, or to indulge our own appetites for entertainment and material success while laughing at or dismissing the relentless, pervasive nonsense coming out of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
And we really do need to quit with the talk of how bad Christians have been in society. It’s counterproductive and simply not true. Study after study show that Christians are among the finest, most generous and peaceable citizens in society. It won’t hurt our cause to acknowledge that truth, and it will free up our attention to focus on the daunting task ahead.
As for where we are now, the situation seems bleak, especially with “The Supremes” freshly inflicted wound to what so many call the cause of “religious liberty”. True as that may be, I think we need to acknowledge the fact that the cause is not JUST religious liberty.
It’s liberty, plain and simple. Religious folks aren’t the only people that are more than a little uncomfortable and even distressed at the direction our society is careening, its secular folks as well. I’ve run across many in my various circles as of late.
Any sober minded soul can see that our society will one day pay a huge price for it’s current recklessness. On that day, if we hold to our convictions, Christian may well be seen, in retrospect, as the sane ones. So please don’t believe the lie that Christians are the only ones who object to our present cultural lunacy.
Which leads me to the final question of “where we go from here?”
For me, the road ahead is muddy, at best.
My biggest concern moving forward is not that Christians will suffer persecution. We will, and soon enough. We’re promised it too many times in scripture. Nor do I worry that we won’t faithfully endure it. God promises strength for those who focus their eyes on Him.
No, my worry for so many of my fellow believers, and quite frankly myself, is that we, as the media-numbed, comfort-seeking, first-world dramatics that we are, will try to avoid persecution at all costs, even to the point of enabling or even contributing to the persecution of those brothers and sisters more resolute than us.
Because after all, for weaker souls keeping their heads down in order to lead a quite life, nothing is more upsetting than those who draw enemy fire by standing tall in a spiritual battle.
As the ever-wise Dennis Prager says, “Those who do not fight evil hate those who do”.
And make no mistake, there’s evil afoot. The Enemy is not an ugly little red guy with horns and a pitchfork. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and with subtly twisted words like tolerance, acceptance and even equality. Words that are very seductive to those who don’t want any trouble. Words that will divide God’s family when they most need to be united.
Remember, Jesus told His disciples many times that the key to our witness to the world will be our unity and love for each other. If the Enemy can destroy that love and unity, he’ll have the world. Our culture, our world, is fast approaching a cliff of no return, and it’s hitting the accelerator, not the brakes.
And it’s not just our values being rejected, it’s our God, who sent His only Son to save the lost.
It took decades to get where we’re at, and in the days, years and even decades ahead, the Family of God needs to find a way to be unified and loving in the face of opposition both overtly fierce and subtly seductive.
How to do this? I‘m not sure. But here, on the Big Picture, let the conversation begin. And with that, the Late ‘Boomer is out.
In closing, it’s time for the Great Cloud Of Witnesses, from Hebrews chapter 11-12 in your Bible. It’s the segment of our podcast where we meet and hear the stories of those who have given, and some who are still giving, their lives by faith in the promises of God, and of whom the world was and is not worthy. Today’s witness is, once again, the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here’s more of his story.
When fourteen-year-old Dietrich Bonhoeffer announced his desire to be a minister, his wealthy family criticized the church. Dietrich told them that he would reform it.
As an ordained minister, theology professor, and author, Bonhoeffer spent his life probing the issues of the church.
When Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933, the church adopted one of Hitler’s clauses denying the right of the church to ordain ministers of Jewish heritage. Only Bonhoeffer openly spoke out against the decision and pledged to get it repealed.
Through lectures and published articles, Bonhoeffer opposed the evil Nazis and reproved the church for not having “raised its voice on behalf of the victims and . . . find ways to hasten to their aid.”
In April 1943, Bonhoeffer was arrested in Berlin for “subversion of the armed forces.” But while in prison, he continued to write. “The church was silent when it should have cried out.”
In 1945, Bonhoeffer was moved to the Flossenburg concentration camp where he was hung with six others. The camp doctor who had watched him kneel and pray before being led to the gallows stated that he had “hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
We haven’t yet faced anywhere near the societal evil that Dietrich Bonhoeffer did, but that evil didn’t spring up over night. It was enabled by decades of German Christians “keeping their heads down” and accommodating governmental and societal pressures. By the time it mattered, he stood tall and nearly alone.
Bonhoeffer was long ago nominated to the great cloud of witnesses. Here we have more evidence of why the world was, and is, not worthy of him and his faith.
Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this week’s Big Picture Podcast, please go to my web site at gobigpicture.net and also check out all of our podcasts and points of view on the E-Squared Media network at e2medianetwork.com. And please leave a few comments and tell your friends, and even you pastor about us.
The conversation is started!
See you next time on the Big Picture podcast. Be blessed!