A severe hailstorm thrashed our roof, paint and gutters this summer while I was on the road. After returning home from camp travels, I spent weeks painting and repairing the damage. The last step was to replace the screen wire that had been shredded, and I found myself working with a tool that I regularly used when I was 15 working at my dad’s lumberyard in Southern Illinois. Back in 1965 part of my job was to replace glass and repair screens—I fixed scores of them.
As I worked, I recalled that I, also, had my dad’s old radio sitting on a nearby shelf. It was on constantly at the lumberyard tuned to the local AM station. I did not even know if it still worked. I blew the dust off, plugged it in, and---nothing for several seconds. Then, it came to life. I realized the radio is so old it has tubes that have to warm up before it receives the signal—much like me in the morning.
Trusted and Tried Tools
As I worked with that old tool and listened to that old radio, I could not help but remember all the life lessons I learned watching Dad run his business as a Christian. I realized he left me so much more than antique tools and an old radio. Dad’s public commitment to Christ gave me tools for life, and his public prayers and testimony to God’s provision still ring in my ears today. I still hear his voice, and his words still guide me long after his death. As Christians we are to listen to and obey the word of God. “But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”’ (Luke 11:28)
The temptation I face, and you might, too, is to be nostalgic about a United States that relied on dependable tools and listened to the voice of truth. Instead, we find our country has discarded the tested traditions of our fathers and has tuned into political correctness, sexual deviancy and atheistic self-sufficiency.
However, the reality is that each generation is challenged to abandon truth and grace, to give up in despair, to tune in to and accept the secular worldview that shouts in every aspect of culture. The Christian is not to retreat from culture; the Christian is commanded to advance on culture (II Cor. 10:4-5). Worldview’s Bridgeyear Program is equipping students with the necessary tools with which to repair culture. Worldview at the Abbey is proclaiming Truth with a very loud voice. Students in the political science class just finished The Prince by Machiavelli, the classic treatise on pragmatism in politics. Maintaining power at any cost and by any means is the highest good for a ruler according to Machiavelli. Students have seen that play out before their eyes this political cycle as they have observed the candidates and their campaigning techniques and proposed policies.
What are the Threats to Our Culture?
The threat to the future of our nation is not, however, of a political nature. I see four threats that walk arm in arm toward the precipice of our nation’s destruction. They merely are reflected in this Presidential election cycle. The first threat is moral bankruptcy.
1. Moral bankruptcy—Our nation is spending the moral capital of the previous generation without regard to replenishing the necessary deposits in the next generation. The church has ignored the moral issues of the day and has not, generally, addressed the culture with the Truth claims of the Bible. Abortion, origins, homosexuality, education, economics, pornography, etc. are rarely, if ever, the topic of sermons let alone Sunday school or Bible study curricula. As a result, the youth find the church irrelevant and old fashioned. For example, I know a youth pastor who lives with his girlfriend. What does that signal to his students?
Even students who come to our leadership camp have experienced the moral bankruptcy of the culture and the insolvency of the church in its attempt to invest in it. This has led to, for example, the following conversation with a homeschooled, raised-in-a-Christian-home, conservative student who was experiencing confusion.
2. Confusion—At one of Worldview Academy’s summer camps I had a discussion with a girl who asked, “What do you think of Caitlyn Jenner?”
I responded, “You mean ‘Bruce’?”
To which she answered, “She wants to be called ‘Caitlyn.’”
I said, “Abe Lincoln asked a group of people once, ‘If you call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs does a sheep have?’ The answer Abe gave was, ‘Four. It doesn’t matter what you call the tail, it is still a tail.’ As far as Bruce Jenner goes, check his DNA.”
To which she retorted, “But he claims to be a Christian.”
I responded, “He very well may have trusted Christ, but he is shaking his fist in the face of God and saying, ‘You don’t define me; I do!”
That conversation reflects the confusion even among Christians as to what language to use to describe perversion.
During this crucial election cycle many Christians have thrown up their hands in disgust at the lack of candidates’ character and at the salacious reporting by the media on the major candidates for office. Many Christians have expressed the reluctance even to vote for those running for higher offices. However, Christians might consider the old saw, “party trumps person.” In other words, despite the flaws in character or personality of candidates, one should examine the party platforms to determine for whom to vote. No confusion exists when one reads party platforms and compares them with biblical principles. We Christians could be allowing the media to define terms, set the agenda and confuse us by shining the spotlight on individuals while trying to keep issues of importance in the dark.
Christians have been deafened by the shouts from secular commentators, pundits, preachers and politicians quick to cite a verse out of context to validate an unholy position and/or to silence Christians in the public square. Thus the third threat is more ominous than the first two.
3. Biblical Illiteracy and Over Spiritualization of Bible Verses—Whenever a Christian attempts to address, for example, the failure of public school teachers to teach biblical values to students, the typical response is, “Well, you know I am a Christian, but…Jesus said that we have to render unto Caesar…and since the school is tax payer supported, well, I, as a Christian public school teacher, have to tread lightly.” Jesus did say to render to Caesar that which Caesar puts his name on—if a coin, then pay your taxes. However, whose image is on every person who ever lived? It is not the state’s. Better question: Whose image do you want stamped on the hearts and minds of the little children sitting at those school desks? The Secular State’s image or God’s? In short, Christians do not know what verses mean or how to apply them in the culture. Oh, and by the way, whenever anyone starts a conversation with me with the words, “I am a Christian, but…” I have to agree that is exactly what they are, the tail end of Christianity.
Another verse quoted when someone suggests, for example, that voter guides be distributed to the congregants on a Sunday morning is, “Well, you know, Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, and II Corinthians 10:4 tells us, ‘For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.’ Therefore, we should not get involved in politics. That is a private matter between the individual and God. We, the church, should not dirty our hands with the things of this world. We just need to pray.”
We Christians tend to over spiritualize this verse and make it a battle in the heavenlies with fallen angels battling the angels of God with flaming swords like a scene straight out of a Star Wars film. It is a scene separated from the realities of this physical world. We over spiritualize the verse by divorcing it from its context. The very next verse reads, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” Christians take EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ from their thinking on economics to politics to education to entertainment to_____________. Fill in the blank. EVERY thought. That heavenly battle is actually taking place right here and now for the Christian. The battle is all around us; it is a battle for the minds and hearts of people. Yet, because we Christians do not think well, we certainly cannot act accordingly. Thus biblical illiteracy results in a lack of concern for Liberty.
4. Lack of Concern for Liberty—Whenever Christian florists, photographers or bakers bring their faith to bear on their business practices and refuse, for example, to participate in an event, a same-sex wedding ceremony, that is a violation of their conscience, the state is quick to find them guilty of violating state laws against discrimination. The church’s response is to immediately request a Religious Freedom Restoration Act to exempt the church from having to abide by state statutes applied to the Christian businessman.
Churches and Christians have become merely nothing more than another special interest group seeking privileges from the omnipotent and omniscient state that grants and denies rights. Christians really have not cared about Liberty for decades. Liberty is not preached in the pulpits nor exercised by the people in the pew. How often have you heard a prayer in church that starts with, “Father, thank you for allowing us to live in a country where we can gather freely to worship You…”? Really? Is that true? What about the photographer, florist and baker whose act of worship is honoring God with his or her craft? Are they free?
By the way, those in opposition to Truth and Liberty are now knocking on church doors claiming that if the activity is not overtly religious, say a harvest festival, then the church should be subject to public accommodation laws allowing for transgender use of bathroom facilities. This is now the case in Iowa and Massachusetts. So much for “Do what you want to the bakers but leave us alone. Give us an exemption.”
Often mistakenly attributed to Martin Luther, this quote by a fictional character in a 19th century novel, nevertheless reflects the spirit of a Martin Luther,
“If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
Christians have failed to engage the battle for liberty for all, and merely have begged the state to grant them liberty for some. By contrast, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Corinthians 3:17) Christians should be about the business of proclaiming liberty throughout the land. We Christians should be walking Liberty Bells. The Christian should boldly proclaim, “I believe in liberty for all, not liberty for some. If we do not have liberty for all, we will have liberty for none.”
The Trumpet’s Call
When the children of Israel returned from captivity and began to rebuild the city walls, their enemies plotted to foil their efforts and plotted to kill them. Nehemiah called the people together and ordered them to carry bricks in one hand and their swords in the other. He stationed a trumpeter to sound the alert of any impending attack with him, and Nehemiah exhorted the people in Nehemiah 4:20, “In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
In this nation the walls have been torn down, the foundations destroyed and our people are in a state of confusion and despair. We Christians should not merely shake our heads in despair and quote Psalm 11:3 to each other on Sundays, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Instead, we should recognize the threats and, like Nehemiah, call Christians to rally to that point on the wall where the attack is most immanent. Prepare for the process of building and even battling—gird up your loins. This is the promise of Worldview at the Abbey—we prepare students to build where they can and battle where they must. We provide them the tested and trusted tool of scripture and tune their ears to hear the voice and faith of their fathers’ generation. Be assured: Our God will fight for us!
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:13)
- Bill Jack