In Search of Just One Good Example
My wife and I have recently been making our way through a period drama on TV. We have enjoyed much of it, especially the first couple of seasons. I noticed in the third season the program started introducing Christians into the story, Methodists in particular. One ought to expect to see Christians in 18th century England. The program rightly shows that the England of the Wesleys and Whitefield was a mess when their Methodist movement got going. In fact, some historians have pointed out that England was moving in the same direction as the bloody revolution in France when these men, and those who followed them, began to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, this series has not had a great deal of positive things to say about the Christian faith. I have no gripes against showing the dark side (fallen, sinful side) of Christians. Christians have never officially taught they were morally perfect people, even if some over two millennia have hypocritically pretended otherwise. However, Christianity is the largest religion in the world, with well over two billion people who claim a commitment to Jesus Christ. Therefore, it does not seem unreasonable to think that with so many people claiming to follow Christ, there would be at least one or two positive stories worth telling, or at least included in an episode or two. Scholars have written extensively on the positive difference Christianity has made in this world, whether it relates to education, freedom, equality, mercy, etc. My goal here is not to list them all, though if you are interested, I encourage you to take look at the recommended reading list at the bottom and dive in. (Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like a suggestion for your first read.)
Consider the Consequences
Instead, my question is this: Do cynical unbelievers really want a world without Christians? I qualify “unbelievers” because I realize most of them do not want such a world. And yet, the more cynical among them may say, “absolutely.” To them I would say, just consider the consequences of such a thought-experiment. If Christians disappeared, there would still be organizations, and even governments, that would continue to provide care to those in need, to stand for the rights of the oppressed, etc. But for how long? For even those right tendencies find their roots in the Christian worldview. Many of the common, everyday virtues people appreciate, and even teach, come from the Christian faith. Our country might continue to practice many of those good and right things if Christians all disappeared. But again, I ask: for how long?
Our culture, despite its move toward secularism, still enjoys the borrowed capital of the Christian worldview, however much it protests to the contrary. Unbelievers can say it doesn’t because they don’t presently have to test their thesis. Yet everyday there are signs that point toward a dwindling of that borrowed capital. Every passing day seems to produce evidence that a consensus of Christian belief and virtue is not appreciated, much less believed and practiced in our culture. A foreboding sign of the times to be sure.
In no way, shape, or form am I suggesting Christians have no blemishes on their side of the ledger. We do. Way too many. But that fact is why we need a Savior. The only answer to our private and public sins and shortcomings is Christ – his perfect righteousness, substitutionary atonement, indwelling and sanctifying Spirit, and continuing Lordship in our lives. Only Christ and his grace can redeem us and then set us on the right path. He’s the only solution for everyone else too.
To those cynics out there I would say this: Don’t be too hasty in wanting to get rid of Christians and any vestiges of their worldview and its influence. To do so may seem like a victory, but it will be a fleeting one. And then may God help those left in a comprehensively post-Christian culture, because there will be no Christians left to do so.
· With two or three other people, think of and talk about all the ways Christianity has influenced our culture and your daily life.
· What are those areas that are so much a part of our culture that they’re no longer attributed to the influence of Christians and their worldview?
· What are some ways you can be the salt and light influence of Christ in your home, workplace, neighborhood, community, city, and beyond? Write your ideas down so you can reflect upon and pray over them. Get as practical and realistic as possible and begin to pray for the Lord to lead you toward faithfully exercising that influence in the various spheres of your life.
· Select a book in the bibliography below and read and discuss it with two or three brothers in Christ.
· The Micah Mandate by George Grant
· What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? by James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe
· How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin Schmidt
· The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi
· How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey
· Being the Body by Charles Colson and Ellen Vaughn
· Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
· Why You Think the Way You Do by Glenn Sunshine
· Kingdom Agenda by Tony Evans
· The Kingdom Turn by T.M. Moore
· The Kingdom Economy by T.M. Moore
· The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark
· How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer
· Turning Point: A Christian Worldview Declaration by Herbert Schlossberg and Marvin Olasky
· Renaissance by Os Guinness
· The Lordship of Christ by Vern Poythress
· Culture Making by Andy Crouch
· Joy for the World by Greg Forster
· Onward by Russell Moore