The Next Lost Cause?

The Next Lost Cause? April 15, 2013

The title and focus of this post is inspired by an article in Patrol magazine by David Sessions. Young people even among Evangelicals have shifted away from the assumptions of many of their parents regarding things like gay marriage. And young-earth creationism, however popular it may seem in some circles now, is unlikely to survive the internet – however much it works as a tool for dissemination of misinformation, it is also making the sheer amount of scientific data and research accessible.

It may take a while, but sooner or later both of these issues will be things of the past except for a small number of hold-outs. It’s what happened with geocentrism, with slavery, with women in ministry, and with just about every other matter in relation to which conservatives have surrendered a battleground only to set up camp elsewhere and deploy the very same tactics and strategies.  And so it is extremely unlikely that the same end will not be reached, when we are dealing with essentially the same phenomenon, just focused on different issues.

And so that leads naturally to the question I posed in the title of this post. What do you think the next lost cause will be? What will be the next issue that conservative Christians make a focus of their identity? How long do you think that particular issue will remain a rallying point before they move on to the next one? Some last for centuries, some for decades, some never really get off the ground.

I invite discussion of the question. But I also want to add a couple of questions for conservative Christians that seek to get deeper, to the core of this phenomenon.

If a particular approach to the Bible and to Christianity leaves you ashamed with hindsight time and time again, shouldn’t the time eventually come for you to not merely surrender in individual battles, but actually stop approaching things in that way altogether?

And at what point do you consider the possibility that the issues that you are focusing on in order to be “counter-cultural” may in fact be picking easy targets of cultural dispute, and missing a deeper analysis of the shortcomings of your own society?

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  • Dr. Patrick B Reyes

    Meat based diets.

  • John Hawthorne


  • I won’t be too disappointed if biblical inerrancy is finally killed off by the internet. If only wishing could make it so…

  • “Gay marriage” doesn’t look like a “lost cause”, on the fact that Richard Hays and J.R.D. Kirk both see good biblical reasons against it. I find it difficult to fault their approach.

    • Ian

      I find it difficult to fault the biblical reasons in support of slavery too. As did plenty of others when the slavery-apologists were largely in control over the religious debate. That’s the whole point.

      • I understand what you’re getting at, but the point is not about faulting the reasons per se. I’m pointing out that Richard Hays and J.R.D. Kirk are both prominent theologians whose hermeneutical approaches seem to be virtually beyond reproach. Their approach is the point of contention, not so much the “reasons”.

        • Ian

          But plenty of leading scholars and theologians held all those other lost conclusions too. The history of Christianity, from Paul’s arguments against circumcision onwards, is full of such cases. If you’re inclined to be conservative on a topic, you’ll always be able to find people to bolster your opinion. Those people who agree with you will always seem more reasonable and honest. It is human nature. Yet still the wheel turns.

  • Mark A Matson

    Israel is always right, even when endorsing apartheid? (this links btw with premillinialism).

  • Ian

    One of the key things about these issues is that, before they become the battleground, they are thoroughly in the consensus. A hundred years ago, if we had this discussion, the idea of gay rights would have been clearly immoral to all of us. So what’s next is probably something we mostly agree on.

    Banning of foods from animal products, legalization of drugs, polygamy, incest, are a few I can imagine. But the point is the next battleground will more likely be something not on most of our radars yet.

  • markhh

    An interesting take on the question “from the other side”:

  • Religion?

  • cdbren

    The problem here is a falling away from a trust in the clear written word of God. Not a fall from popular consensus. Those issues, gay marriage and a young earth are clearly spelled out in both the new and old testaments and also confirmed by Jesus himself.

    This kind of thing is nothing new. It is spelled out in the Bible many times. Some of God’s people gradually start doing “what is right in their own eyes” and stop listening to God. It’s called sin. That is what is happening now and bad consequences will follow.