First things first. Many thanks to the Christian Post for inviting me to post regularly on their site. It is an honor and a compliment. I would invite the reader to take a look at my biography and explore some of my own webpages as it will help one to see where I'm coming from in general. I have some links at the bottom.
In short, I was raised in the Christian Church, educated in Christian schools, but promptly fell away from the faith while studying to be a pastor. As it is typically expected that pastors believe in God, this posed obvious difficulties. Upon my return to the faith, I threw myself into Christian apologetics. It is my goal to spare others the unnecessary aspects of my journey. Questioning is good- but let it be reasonable.
With the above in mind, let me make a bold assertion: We have no right to a Christian culture. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Church is entitled to working within a society that is friendly to our faith and values. In fact, if anything the New Testament shows that the first Christians were met with hostility on all sides. The persecution of Christians persisted for hundreds of years. There were persecutions even after Constantine. And of course, as we survey the global situation rather than just America's, it is evident that hostility still exists.
What we have in America is not a right nor is it something we are entitled to.
This is not to suggest that we should set aside aims to be salt in society and give in to the increasingly secular society. There can be no question that it is easier to transmit the faith (and theoretically more effective) within a society that is sympathetic to Christianity. If we can retain it, we should. Moreover, we have seen examples of what happens when faith is utterly stripped from a society. We need say only the names... Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao....
I am not suggesting that we cease trying to influence the culture or that we jettison the 'inherited capital' that still exists (although, in ever diminishing amounts). I am suggesting that we get our own house in order in uncompromising fashion. For example, it is almost useless to try to promote 'family values' such as biblical marriage when it is well known that divorce is as rampant in the Christian community as outside it. It is useless to hope for Bible literacy in the nation at large when congregations themselves are producing Bible illiterates. It is hard to insist on pro-life legislation when congregations do precious little to put their money where their mouth is in relation to local pro-life efforts. You get the idea.
We must get our own house in order. I doubt that means at the exclusion of trying to influence culture. For one thing, setting our own affairs in order will automatically have its own effects on the culture. But we must get our own house in order, and we must do so now.
What does it mean to put our own affairs in order? That is precisely one of the things this blog will explore.
To begin with I suggest taking our current situation seriously. Christianity's hold on this society is slipping (see, for example, this recent Barna study). It is not the kind of thing we want to keep just for the sake of having. We keep it because we believe that it will help the most people and encourage the most healthy society possible and that consequently more souls will be saved. If we are failing to accomplish this within our very congregations...
We must take our current situation seriously and take appropriate, serious action: beginning in our own local communities, our own local congregations, our own house.
Anthony Horvath is the Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries. He is the author of the Birth Pangs series and blogs at sntjohnny.com. He is available for speaking and consulting. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.