Dr. Os Guinness wrote a book eighteen years ago entitled The American Hour. In it he said, “that the deepest source and agency of …cultural authority lies in its faiths, so that it can be truly said that there is no strong and vital culture without a cultus or source of worship and ultimate faith commitment.” His book motivated me to write a brief statement expressing my concern about cultural authority. The following is one example of my assessment of the culture in May 1993. It was written for a theological newsletter I published for several years.
The crisis of cultural authority is a very real problem for all of us. The present crisis cannot be ignored because it has our nation in a state of confusion. Racial groups and special interest groups have overshadowed the “one nation” concept in the United (or un-United) States. The church has followed the culture and is in a state of confusion. The church is made up of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who call Him Lord (understand what Lord means), but treat the Lord like the President of a fractured democratic society. Just as America is losing its flavor as a nation, the church is losing its flavor of Christianity. Christians must ask themselves, “Who are we?”
Our nation is torn apart by the cultural wars. Our church is torn apart by dissentious denominations. Factions struggling for power tear our denominations apart. The factions in the denominations are torn apart by the philosophy of individualism. I hope you will stop reading for a few seconds (minutes, hours, etc) and think about what Jesus said in John chapter seventeen about unity. The metaphysical principle of unity is applicable to the church. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect harmony. Although perfection cannot be achieved in this life, perfection is the goal. Christians, who are we?
I have recently discovered a dilemma that further complicates the factious disposition of the church. The dilemma is the rejection of truth as a standard to combat the delirious schismatic’s of the church.
The cultural conflicts in our nation are predisposed by humanism, irrationalism, relativism, and a dozen other worldviews that reject, absolutely reject, any form of absolute truth. However, what about Christians, can they reject truth? Can there be all sorts of individual interpretations? Is it just what you feel in your heart? No! The Bible says that the church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Truth is beautiful and the foundation of all hope, joy, and assurance of eternal life.
Since truth is the exact opposite of a lie and a lie is a contradiction, it would be proper to make some comparisons. No one likes to be called a liar, but when it comes to theology lying seems to be acceptable. The relative approach to truth is, “I believe this and you believe that, but either one is o. k.” What could be more confounding? Paul told Titus that God was not able to lie (Titus 1:2). The writer of Hebrews says, “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).
Our nation cannot harmonize the cultural crisis, because our nation has lost its identity. The church cannot harmonize the scandalous divisions, because it has lost its identity. I have found that most professing Christians are interested in the present time. They are interested in the events of their daily lives. Christians tend to exercise their faculties for self-fulfillment and happiness. Life is driven by individualism, which ultimately rejects God’s authority. All the false gods are set up for utilitarian purposes. It is the passion for authority and power that has created the cultural wars in the nation and dissentions in the church.
It is time for the church to lead the way for the disengagement of the cultural wars. It is time for the church to stop fighting culture wars and start engaging in God’s culture. It is time to submit to God’s authority and recognize the regalia and majesty of God. Then the answer to the question “Who are we” will become obvious. We are the cultus that forms the culture.
I believe I was correct in my assessment nearly two decades ago. I believe the situation is exponentially worse today. I pray God will provoke the hearts of His children to seek reformation in the church. May it please God to raise up another servant like Martin Luther who was willing stand for the truth at the risk of his life. Luther refused to deny the truth and stated “his conscience was captive to the Word of God and that unless he were convicted by Scripture and plain reason…he would not recant anything.” His work and ministry, by the power of the Holy Spirit, changed the cultural milieu of the western world.