The Changing Face of America
Drive through almost any town in America on a Sunday morning and you’ll see church parking lots filled with cars. Yet a cultural revolution is taking place that defies everything many of those churches have believed and accepted as true and moral for more than two centuries.
A militant minority is waging all-out war on God and Christianity, and it seems to be winning. Atheists continually beat the drum for a godless society, ridiculing Christian beliefs and heaping contempt on anyone who rejects their philosophy. The result is a society in chaos and possibly on the verge of collapse.
Ironically, a secular commentator took it upon himself to ask why most Christians aren’t rising up against the religious bigots bent on destroying the moral and spiritual fiber of America. Why the virtual silence by those most affected and having the most to lose if the radical fringe’s secular paganism becomes the religion of the nation?
Religion Minus God
Regardless of protestations to the contrary, atheism is a form of religion. While true Christianity centers on faith in Christ, atheism (along with agnosticism) worships nothing. It is a fable faith in which every individual (in practice) fabricates gods of his or her own making.
Atheists even proselytize, but with a unique twist: They force entire communities or people groups to bow to their beliefs or suffer the legal consequences. Often a single atheist’s complaint of being personally aggrieved over some Christian artifact, display, or celebration prompts a compliant judge to scorn the will and traditions of the majority in favor of one person. Forcing their unbelief on others appears to be the atheists’ sacred commitment. They brook no opposition, leave no room for the philosophy of live and let live, and are determined to search and destroy everything connected with God.
Perhaps a participant on a television talk show said it best. “I like Christmas,” she exclaimed. “I just don’t like the religious part of it.”
Separation Versus Integration
Among the most debilitating offenses of the ancient Israelites was their desire to become like the nations around them. Their clamoring for a king resulted in Saul’s disastrous tenure as Israel’s first monarch. This was, of course, not the end of the story. But in every generation, believers are pressured to become less conspicuous as people whose distinction is separation from corrupt cultures and lifestyles.
Forgotten in today’s rush toward assimilation and acceptability is the fact that the early church triumphed over paganism by being different. Separation is a word that has become virtually extinct in the current evangelical lexicon. Sadly, it mistakenly has been paired with legalism.
In reality, the early church’s appeal lay in the willingness of believers to forfeit their lives, rather than capitulate to the conformists and adopt the mores of the godless societies around them. The early Christians demonstrated an unquenchable commitment to Christ above all. It was the strength of their witness and steadfast devotion that changed the world. Their monotheism, fidelity in marriage, insistence on truth as the standard of living, and refusal to be inclusivists by endorsing the worship of mythological gods set them apart as immovable believers.
They refused to adopt a posture of “your god may be as good as mine” in order to fit in. Had early church leaders played along and condoned popular heathen practices and deities, the result would certainly have been the death of Christianity. The current fascination that significant segments of the evangelical community seem to have with compromising biblical essentials is extremely dangerous. The “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy contradicts Christ’s teaching. Jesus said,
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (Jn. 15:18–19).
Too many religious advocates of change are more interested in becoming socially accepted than in staying true to Scripture. This turn in the road has many evangelicals on a spiritually slippery slope. They evidence more play than pray; they mute the clear imperative of the gospel of Christ, lest it offends; they embrace inclusivism, claiming a newfound understanding of a more universal brotherhood. These are concepts never dreamed of by our spiritual forebears; and unless they are corrected, much of contemporary evangelicalism is in peril.
On his blog, georgebarna.com, author and researcher George Barna made an astute observation in 2011 concerning where the current course can take us:
Overall, the picture is not pretty though it falls somewhat short of disaster. If existing tendencies continue, then we will likely see an increase in the numbers of people who do not accept a conventional definition of God’s character and those who reject the accuracy of the principles taught in the scriptures.
Conformists believe relationships, camaraderie, and affability will lead people to Christ. It’s a sort of salvation by osmosis. In their view, redemption will be subjectively induced without verbal definition.
The problem is, it doesn’t work that way. Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world is an absolute, not an option. We can and should be pleasant folk, but you can’t smile people into heaven. Remove the message of life-transforming salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and there is nothing left but another emaciated religious faction.
The Irony of Exclusion
Something telling is happening in America. Clearly, some people have a compulsion to establish harmonious relationships through assimilation—a sort of peace through compromise. The idea seems to be that, by becoming more like the world, the world can be changed for the better. Yet ironically, for all of the buddying up being done by Christian leaders, the world says, “We only want you on our terms; otherwise, please leave.”
Look around. See what happens when a prayer in Jesus’ name is offered in public. Then ask yourself how many times you have heard His name taken in vain publicly. When have you heard the same disrespect spewed in the name of any other religious figure, such as Muhammad or Buddha? Listen to what the neopagans say to us, in and out of the courts.
No longer is there any doubt that conservative Christianity is on trial as an evil that must be purged from American life. Though certain elements in society may tolerate virtually any other religion, cult, or even subversive set on destroying the country, they will not tolerate vibrant, Christ-honoring Christianity.
Like it or not, America is changing. But we have a sure hope. God is neither dead nor off course in His plan for His people.
Megachurches may fall by the wayside, deductions for charitable contributions may go by the boards, and we may someday join our brethren in other countries who endure physical persecution. These things all may happen, but they also will clarify one thing: in whom you have placed your faith—in Christ or in a comfortable, politically endorsed, present-tense experience. The true church will endure; governments may or may not. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is for time and eternity. All other accommodation will end upon our departure from this life.
Frances Jane “Fanny” Crosby, beloved hymn writer of another era, wrote, “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” For her, everything began and ended in Him. A friend of hers once commented that it was a pity God had given her so many wonderful attributes, yet had not bestowed on her the gift of sight. Fanny was blind her entire life.
Yet she told her friend, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?”
“But why?” asked her friend.
“Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!”
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). The gospel of Christ is what matters. It’s real, it’s personal, it’s imperishable, it’s all about Jesus, and it’s nonnegotiable.