Living faithfully in an increasingly hostile, post-Christian culture

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Bible-believing Christians in America and much of the West are rapidly waking up to the reality that they truly do live in a post-Christian culture.

It has become increasingly clear that ideological social justice has supplanted the Judeo-Christian worldview as the established belief-system, not only in our universities and systems of education, but also in our federal bureaucracy and legal system. It dominates Wall Street, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, as well as mainstream media.

In stunning ways, these centers of cultural influence are now working in tandem to impose their belief-system, values, policies, and practices on everyone else.

This became crystal clear in the weeks following the January 6 protests and riot at the U.S. capitol in Washington D.C. In a shocking move described by Rachel Bovard, we witnessed an all-out effort by “Big Tech and woke corporations to punish, de-platform, delegitimize, marginalize, and silence the millions of Americans who hold viewpoints and beliefs that differ from the alliance” of big business, corporate media, the new Biden administration, and “the lords of Silicon Valley.”

Judeo-Christian beliefs are not only unwelcome by those holding the reins of cultural, economic, and political power, they are seen as a threat, leaving Bible-believing Christians increasingly feeling like exiles in their own country. It is worth reflecting on how we got to this point, and where we go from here.

The loss of the legacy of a Judeo-Christian worldview

The Judeo-Christian worldview has shaped and influenced Western culture for more than a millennium, particularly in the decades following the Protestant Reformation and the First Great Awakening. But beginning in the 1700s, this influence began to wane with the rise of Enlightenment rationalism, modernism, and Darwinian atheism.

The terrible split between the fundamentalists and mainline denominations that occurred in reaction to the rise of secularism and modernism in the late 1800s and early 1900s further marginalized the church and Christian influence in the broader culture. In a tragically mistaken effort to conform to increasingly secular culture, the mainline church rapidly secularized, as did the once-proud social institutions they maintained, including virtually all the Ivy League universities. Others followed their lead.

The fundamentalists (precursors to today’s evangelicals) preserved the “fundamentals” of the faith, such as original sin, the atonement, and biblical authority, but erred by separating faith from culture. Orthodox Christianity, they held, should prioritize evangelism, personal salvation, and church growth. Everything else was deemed secular and worldly. Christian cultural engagement was viewed with suspicion.

Of course, it is impossible for Christians not to be engaged in the culture. But more and more, fundamentalists and evangelicals separated their faith from cultural matters, and slowly began to adapt themselves to the norms, practices, and customs of an increasingly secular culture.

Faith was to be lived out in one’s personal devotional life, and in church, but not in business, the arts, or any other so-called “secular” sphere of life.

As a result, for nearly a century, the Western church no longer discipled the nations with the truths of a biblical worldview. Instead, the secular ideas and beliefs of the culture began to disciple the church. The Christian disengagement from an increasingly secular culture created an open space for a hostile worldview to fill the void.

Where did “critical theory” come from?

In the years immediately following World War II, the Frankfurt School social theorists, following the lead of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, were ready to make their move to disciple the West based on an entirely different belief system. They called their worldview (a fusion of postmodernism and cultural Marxist presuppositions) “critical theory.” It took root in American institutions of higher education, starting at Columbia University in New York, in the 1950s. From that foothold, it spread to other universities across the country, and eventually infused all academia, impacting nearly every discipline, particularly those in the humanities and social sciences.

This worldview spawned much of the 1960s counterculture, including the sexual revolution. In the 1980s through the early 2000s, it went somewhat dormant in terms of its influence in the broader culture. But about ten years ago, it reemerged with a vengeance, rapidly spreading its clout throughout the culture as graduates of elite universities began to take up positions of leadership in the arts, government, media, big tech, and big business.

Because Christianity had lost so much of its influence in the culture–the fruit of the mainstream-fundamentalist (and later evangelical) split–ideological social justice quickly filled the vacuum.

Today, as we look out at the culture, there is no doubt that ideological social justice is the new “cult,” or dominant worldview shaping virtually all our major institutions. It has even made deep inroads into the evangelical church. This is the subject of my recent book Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis.

This new reigning ideology is characterized by its:

  • Obsession with power, oppression, and victimization. The world is divided between oppressors and victims; nothing exists outside these two categories.
  • Rejection of absolute truth or absolute morality. By jettisoning truth, all that remains is a zero-sum quest for raw power.
  • Fixation on class, race, gender, or sexual orientation as paramount in defining one’s personal identity.
  • Uniformly negative view of American and Western history, and its drive to rewrite history to conform with its negative view.
  • Hostility toward Judeo-Christian belief, particularly with reference to family and sexuality. The new religion and the sexual revolution are deeply intertwined, giving it an uncanny resemblance to ancient paganism.
  • Fixation on “equity,” or equality of outcome. Virtually all social disparities are seen as the result of systemic or structural racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. It is utterly blind to the role of personal choice, behavioral differences, or cultural differences in explaining social disparities. Its favored solutions are all forms of compelled social engineering aimed at forcing equality of outcome.
  • Antipathy toward the natural family, specifically the authority of parents over children and the authority of the husband and father in the home.
  • “Ends justify the means” approach to getting what it wants. Here you will find no “live-and-let-live” toleration, no grace, no forgiveness, no commitment to honesty or truth telling, no “first get the log out of your own eye” introspection. Frighteningly, it achieves its aims through the use of propaganda, false narratives, compelled indoctrination, silencing of opposition, peer pressure, bullying, intimidation, and even riots, looting, and violence. No tactic, no matter how vicious, is off the table.

Raging against God

Os Guinness rightly says that the new religion is animated by a desire to be “liberated from God.” The ideological roots, whether postmodern or Marxist, are ultimately atheistic. Its assault on Western civilization is really an indirect way of attacking Judeo-Christian beliefs, which
ultimately is a kind of rage and rebellion against God and His created order.

When the Judeo-Christian roots of Western civilization are rejected, the result inevitably will be a loss of human freedom, along with increased tyranny.

With this dawning awareness, Christians are increasingly wondering how to respond to the cultural moment we find ourselves in. Many are feeling a sense of hopelessness, frustration, and loss. This is understandable. The years ahead could prove to be very challenging. But they can also provide a unique opportunity for the church to recover her purpose and mission.

So, where do we go from here?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing many of our ideas in answer to this question, beginning with how we ought not to respond.

Stay tuned.

4 Responses

  1. This is to be expected according to prophecy. Jesus said in Luke 17:
    “26 And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man: 27people were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, and they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, and they were building; 29but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed”

    The world is becoming wicked again just as it became before the flood and just as it was like in Sodom and Gomorrah before they were destroyed. Technology is increasing wickedness very, very rapidly as prophesied in Daniel. This is going to come to pass. We must be ready, and not get caught up in the world and what the world is doing nor stress ourselves about caring what it is doing, for that is unnecessary and unfruitful.
    We are not of the world, and that is why it hates us, and as it becomes increasingly evil before Jesus returns we will be hated all the more.
    Stay strong and wait for our Lord’s return.
    His coming is getting nearer.
    Watch, and pray, and love and encourage one another.
    Do good to all. Live holily and Godly amidst a world you don’t belong in.
    Amen.

  2. A good and clarified article about the situation. The knowledge about this is a and o and hopefully provides fuel for prayer work and commitment ……..

    Rolf Östlund – Sweden

  3. I’ve just finished reading Mr. Allen’s new book, and I am reading it again! The book couldn’t be more timely. If all who claim the name of Jesus don’t wake up very soon it will be too late. When looking at the culture here in the U.S. the deck is obviously well stacked against us. I am concerned that the true church is headed for persecution like we’ve never before seen in this country. Jesus did say that all who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted. Well, I think it’s coming so we need to arm ourselves with the truth and leave the rest up to Him. I gauge the validity of any and all ministries by the level of persecution they are receiving. Valid, Spirit-led ministries = persecution; Phony (have a form of Godliness, but deny it’s power, say all the right things) ministries = acceptance by the larger culture (little to no persecution). My fear is (as mentioned in the book) that much of the church here in the U.S. (mainline denominations included) have no clue of what’s really going on. They have totally bought in to social justice ideology that is so pervasive in our culture. This ideology is so dangerous because it has such strong appeal to our fallen broken nature and our human efforts to counter injustice. We cannot truly change ourselves (one of the tenets of ideological social justice). Only the Spirit can change a human heart.

  4. Our country is on the precipice of total loss of freedom religion, freedom of conscience and freedom to practice any form of religion other than materialism. We have moved in this direction for a long time. But recent events are cascading towards totalitarianism like an avalanche. A lot of us will be buried in this avalanche. Thank you for remaining true to truth.

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