There is a conflict coming.
A struggle between people who believe, teach, and strive to live out the concepts embodied by a traditional understanding of biblical principles and those people who do not hold such views (I will use the terms traditionalists and moderns as shorthand). If some moderns have their way, traditionalists will be silenced, not only publicly but privately also. This will be a fight for the very existence in any meaningful way of traditionalists in our culture.
We have already seen the beginning of this, such as;
- Extracurricular bible study groups being kicked out of schools that allow any other type of group.
- Private small businesses being forced to provide services that violate their beliefs.
- Selective enforcement of zoning and parking laws to inhibit church and small home group meetings.
- Selective enforcement of free speech issues such as public preaching, demonstrating, discussing faith on the job, office cubicle decor, etc.
- Selective enforcement by Child Protective Services against traditionalists (and anyone who does not share their rigid view of child rearing).
While it has not happened in the U.S. (yet), I have seen examples of extreme modernism that advocate stripping all parental rights from traditionalists, stripping tax exempt status and even the legal right to exist from any traditionalist congregation, criminalizing traditionalist preaching (even within a church setting), and many others.
There are three camps in this struggle:
- Traditionalists who wish to see moderns eliminated from the culture.
- Moderns who wish to see traditionalists eliminated from the culture.
- Moderates on both sides who wish to see a live and let live attitude preside along with a healthy debate
For many years those in power held a traditionalist view for society, even if they didn’t personally live it out. Sadly, they marginalized all with whom they disagreed. Many people were hurt by a system that could only see ‘my way or the highway’.
Over the past few decades, moderns sought, fought for, and finally achieved a seat at the table of cultural debate (and rightly so). But now that moderns are in power, they seek to do the same thing to those they disagree with that was done to them and their forerunners.
One of the clarion calls of modernism has always been that every voice should be heard and no viewpoint should be silenced. Yet now they seek to do that very thing to traditionalists.
- How long will moderates stand by and watch as the moderns in power chip away at traditionalists’ right to a seat at the table of public discourse?
- How long before moderate traditionalists find themselves perceived as extremists, therefore to be silenced?
- How long before traditionalists, fearing for their survival, rise up violently, and bring condemnation from the culture and retribution from those in power on themselves?
I do not know if these things will happen or if the pendulum of culture will start swinging back toward traditionalism. But I do foresee, that if nothing changes, a conflict is coming, and it will not end well (from a cultural perspective) for traditionalists.
So what can traditionalists do to retain and regain a seat at the table of cultural influence?
First, two things that would be extremely bad for us:
- To do nothing at all, and watch what little influence we have now evaporate.
- To rise up in armed insurrection and be marginalized by the culture and criminalized by the powers that be.
What’s left for us to do?
Love and Pray.
Jesus taught us to ‘love your enemies and pray for those that despitefully use you’.
What does it mean to ‘love your neighbor’?
- Does it mean agree with them? No.
- Does it mean argue with them? No.
- Does it mean accept all behaviors as normal or good? No.
- Does it mean take anyone into your fellowship of believers, regardless of whether they’ve shown heart change? No.
It means pray for them, go to them, care for them, feed them, clothe them, visit them, let them know they are important to you as a person, not a statistic or conquest. Only then will we have the opportunity to invite them into the kingdom.
We need to clean house.
Live out what we say we believe.
The early church, while hated for it’s message, was respected for it’s authenticity. They were known for actually being the kind of people they preached you should be.
Sadly the way many people see Christians is as hypocrites, and for good reason. Many that are in our churches ARE hypocrites, or worse yet, false teachers and brothers.
- We need to fall on our face before God and let Him expose and convict us of the garbage that entangles us… and then get rid of it.
- We need to purge our churches of the snakes, and lions, and false brothers and teachers among us. Not by indiscriminately kicking them out but by showing them their errors and urging them to get right. Only if they steadfastly refuse to repent MUST the church sever ties with them.
Only when we become and are seen as authentic followers of Christ who truly love others and truly live out what we say we believe will we begin to have an impact on our culture again.
We need to separate being a Christian from being an American.
Our identity is in Christ, not in the Constitution. As long as we continue to conflate being holy with being patriotic, we will continue to drive people away. We drive away three groups at the same time:
- Those who are Americans, but not Christians.
- Those who are Christians, but not Americans.
- Those who are not Americans and not Christians.
I’m not saying don’t be patriotic, but rather, understand that governments come and go, our ‘rights’ can be taken away, our freedoms can be limited or withheld, but God is forever.
This kind of thinking needs to spread virally throughout our churches. We are in such danger of losing our freedoms to act on our beliefs, and so many good people don’t see it. Or they don’t know or don’t believe it. Today’s SCOTUS decision, several military cases, the businesses that have been denied the rights of conscience – all these reinforce the dangerous times. I’m afraid for our country, afraid that when people wake up and see what they’ve lost, some will respond in violence. Keep up the good work, John.
John, Good thinking. This message needs to go viral throughout our churches. A hard time is already here as some Christians have already had to choose between living their beliefs and their livelihoods. It’s not enough to just believe something in our hearts. Following Jesus requires us to act on those beliefs – in love, as you said. May God have mercy on this nation.