Todd Starns in a Fox News Opinion piece asks this very question.
The culture war may be lost and religious liberty might not be that far behind, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Seventy percent of senior pastors at Protestant churches say
religious liberty is on the decline in the United States, and 59 percent
of Christians believe they are losing the culture war. Eleven percent
considers that war already lost.
Some within some Christian denominations see this as a major, MAJOR problem.
It's actually long in coming. The only question I have is: what took it so long?
real "problem" in my estimation is not that Christians are losing the
"Culture War." There's a multitude of problems that Christians within
the U.S. have just not dealt with very well.
Complacency. For a long, long time, Christianity held a privileged
position as the religion of choice within the U.S. With that privilege
came certain "perks" among them that many were born into the church and
expected to continue to attend church. No more. As secularism has continued almost unabated, this
expectation fell by the wayside. Fewer made the commitment to worship.
For the first few generations, this wasn't much of a problem because
there were still sufficient numbers in pews. Yet, as older generations
died out, the younger folks didn't replace them. The church suddenly
could not rest upon the fact that they held a position of privilege.
You couldn't just build a church and expect people to show up. Now,
churches truly have to engage people and work at evangelism. Simply
running into someone on the street and trying to convince them to come
to worship won't work. Literal transformation of worldviews is now
necessary. Complacent churches aren't able or oftentimes willing to put
in this kind of work.
#2. The rise of the "Spiritual
but not Religious." Most folks in the U.S. still self-identify as
Christians, but a vast majority are almost non-practicing Christians.
Many are "spiritual but not religious." Many are believers in the sense
of ascribing to the belief that Jesus is a cool guy, maybe even the Son
of God, but that belief rarely leads to visible transformation in a
person's life. Such folks often say, "I don't need to worship in church
to worship God. I can do very well under a tree in the middle of the
woods." Unfortunately, the church rarely has any response to convince a
person to worship--which leads to transformation. The church rarely
has a good apologetic (outside of "churchy" language) to combat this
rampant individualism of faith.
#3. The rise of
religious pluralism. Pluralism in and of itself isn't a bad thing. A
variety of views and understandings is a welcome thing as it prevents
any one particular group from exercising evil. Mutual respect is key,
but the church hasn't handled such a thing well. It has tended to
vacillate between relativism (embracing various other religions as
simply other paths to God) and religious snobbery (people of other
faiths are completely wrong and not worth respect). Neither of these
are particularly palatable or particularly biblical. It is extremely
difficult to be comfortable enough in one's own Christian skin and still
#4. (This one could get me in
trouble.) The Politicalization of the Faith. Yes, I am speaking about
the "Religious Right" and the "Christian Left." These two political
movements, in my estimation are deadly. They each basically assert,
"You cannot be a true Christian if you don't vote either Democrat or
Republican." They each assert their particular political party as more
"Christian" than the other. I personally believe this is not a good
thing. I personally believe such affiliations draw lines in the sand
and lead to polarization--a polarization within the pews. Both groups
seek to exercise power to influence voters and government. In their own ways, each group tries to establish God's Kingdom on earth through the passing of legislation. Last I
checked, the church sought to transform society through POWERLESSNESS,
not through power. Very bad things have happened in history when the
church sought to use power in governmental rule. The church needs
critical distance from each political party to be able to call sin for
what it is: no matter who is committing it. When affiliating with a
party, the church has lost its prophetic voice and alienated 1/2 of the
people it is called to reach.
I could list more, but in
my estimation, these things--these changes in society--have made folks
in the church anxious. Rather than deal with the change in society,
many have battened down the hatches and sought to preserve their
"turf." They declared war oftentimes using the legislative process to accomplish their goals. Last I looked, Jesus wasn't about that
kind of stuff. The only war He declared was against evil. When it came
to society and people, Jesus sought reconciliation, forgiveness, and
love--even of His enemies. He never attempted to change the laws of the Roman empire, but sought to change the hearts and minds of those whom He came into contact with through compassion. With one caveat--He was quite vociferous toward those of the religious establishment who should have known better.
The church in America would do well to drop this pretense of culture war and follow the example of its founder.