Sunday, November 13, 2016
The Future America: Remonstrance or Temper Tantrum
Every Christian should be reading the tea leaves this week. The election is over; Trump came out on top for all kinds of different reasons. But if you think that one of them was religious in nature, you had better think again. It doesn’t take a Jewish prophet to see what the future relationship between Christianity and American culture is likely to be. The hostility that we are seeing directed at the recent election in America is nothing short of fascinating. I continue to read article after article of some of the most incredible venom and vitriol I have ever witnesses. True, I thought this country was determined to elect its first female president if for no other reason than that it was a cool idea. After all, we have been living the consequences of the last cool idea for eight years now. Why not pile on another eight? I was wrong. Old America showed up this week and decided it would play in this thing they call the election after all. I want to do my best to keep a Christian perspective, a biblical perspective on all the goings-on of this week. I admit; it isn’t easy. Trump wins and now we live with the protests and the rants from just about every quarter. What is going on in American culture? Who are these people who seem to completely lack the slightest understanding of how things work in this country? They seem absolutely clueless and by all indications, they have no interest in changing that. The only interest they seem to have is getting everything their own way and stomping out any and every thought that might disagree with their own.
What exactly is it that the protesters are protesting? Is it that their candidate lost the election? Is it that their candidate won the majority vote but lost the electoral college? That is nothing new. We all know and understand the genius of that system and if we don’t, then maybe we shouldn’t be foaming at the mouth until we do. Many people do not see this as a big deal. But combined with the articles and the hatred I see coming from every direction, I believe the church had better pay close attention to these activities this week.
Trump is painted as a racist, a bigot, hateful, a misogynist, homophobe, and a plethora of other adjectives too many to mention. It is not lost on the culture that 86% of the evangelical vote went to Trump. Like Trump, like Christianity; evangelical Christianity. The side that lost believes the side that won is a hate-filled group of people who do NOT deserve to have their voice heard. These kinds of people should not be allowed to vote. They do not deserve to own their own business, to make their own bathroom policies, to have their own religious beliefs, etc. If you do not agree with how the liberal side thinks about these issues, then you should be entirely shut down. This is not an issue that is up for debate in their mind. Who debates the idea of hate? Hate is not a thing we debate. It is a thing we mute. It is a thing we destroy. That is the argument.
All debates that protect someone’s right to hate are a waste of time.
The Christian view of x is an attempt to protect a Christian's right to hate.
Therefore, it is a waste of time to debate x.
(x = gender identity, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, etc.)
No amendment or law that protects hateful behavior should be protected by the constitution. Religious freedom must be redefined in a way that prohibits any position that is deemed hateful to anyone. The church has a few more years, and I do mean just a few to prepare itself for what is about to happen in America. The point of the argument is that any religion that requires hate in its confession should be deemed illegal for the sake of the health and benefit of society. The evangelical version of Christianity requires that Christians confess what essentially amounts to hate and bigotry toward gays and women. Therefore, the evangelical version of Christianity should be deemed illegal. One way to ensure that the liberal point of view becomes the societal norm, abolishing all competitors, is to begin with the abolition of evangelical Christian beliefs. After all, the opponents of evangelicalism will point toward other versions of Christianity and claim that this is not really about religious liberty but about an aberrant version of Christianity that is harmful to society. It is essentially the same difference between Islam and radical Islam. This is where, I believe, the culture wants to go and by all indications of the recent election, it wants to get there as quickly as possible.
Given the current state of affairs and barring a move of God, the likely future state is not one that seems promising where the peace of the churches of God are concerned. What should evangelical, or better yet, biblical churches do in preparation for the new future?
First, the churches need to acknowledge the current state and the trajectory of the immediate future. Hiding behind a false optimism is not only living a lie, it is not helpful. Here is what Jesus told His early disciples: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matt. 5:10-11) Paul told the young pastor Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) Jesus and Paul did not pull any punches. He told the church what they should expect from the world. We should do the same. We should remind ourselves of the words of our Lord.
Second, the churches need to train their people how to be better theologians, evangelists, and apologists. Look at the work of the early apostles within the Christian communities. They were involved in refuting false teaching after false teaching and one ungodly behavior after another. The opposition to the Christian worldview was relentless. It feels like this is happening in American culture. But I think that feeling is a little deceptive. I think America has been nation mostly of hypocrites for most of her history. Unpopular? Oh, you better believe it. America was never a Christian nation because there is no such thing as a Christian nation. What Christians need to understand is that America’s cognitive respect, her outward respect for Christian principles is shifting, evaporating, and it is doing so at record speed. America isn’t becoming less Christian. American culture is becoming less tolerant and respectful of Christian principles and ideas. She has never been a majority Christian nation. Our churches need to change their perception of American history, the nature of the revolutionary war, and the plague of slavery. We need a paradigm shift in how we look at our culture and her history.
Third, we need to recognize that we are outnumbered and surrounded by opponents of Christianity on every side. The fight is real. There is a war taking place and it is more violent than anything we may have witnessed in the natural world. We are in a spiritual warfare. We need to act like it. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31) It is unwise for us to run through this passage and not pause and allow these words to sink in.
The disposition of the majority of American culture will quickly make the final shift from cognitive respect to utter contempt where Christianity is concerned. That final shift cannot be allowed to catch us off guard. This is not about taking our country back. I have said that myself a million times if I said it once. But a few years ago, I realized how incongruent such a statement is with Scripture. Christians do not own America. They never have even though it may have felt like it at one time. This is about preparing the people in our communities to go out and be the light we are all called to be. It is about having the courage to articulate the gospel, to call neighbors to repentance and faith. It is about making sure that we can all put up a defense for the hope that is in us. We can and must do better and today is the day to start. We should have been doing this all along. We haven’t been. It is time to repent of that sin now and begin to work while we have light to work in. The day is coming when darkness will fall upon us and the work will become far more difficult. We must prepare our hearts and minds for that time, now, today.
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