Dr. Os Guinness is a prominent Christian philosopher. In his book, The American Hour he said, “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.” The time has come that “Americans must ask themselves, Who are we?”
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 also in a state of confusion. From my experience, many professing Christian and some trained theologians do not understand the nature, purpose, mission and ministry of the church. They seem to have forgotten that the church is made up of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who call Him Lord, but they treat the Lord like the President of a fractured democratic society. Just as the United States (however un-united they are) is losing its flavor of the constitutional republic it was in the past, the church is losing its flavor of Christianity. Christians must ask themselves, “Who are we?”
Our nation is torn apart by the cultural wars. These are conflicts that separate the culture. Our church is torn apart by dissentious denominations. Our denominations are torn apart by factions struggling for power. The factions in the denominations are torn apart by the philosophy of individualism. The metaphysical principle of unity is applicable to the church. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in perfect harmony. The mandate for the church is to be in perfect harmony. Although perfection cannot be achieved in this life, perfection is the goal.
About twenty-five years ago I discovered a dilemma to further complicate the factious disposition of the church. The dilemma is the rejection of truth as a standard to combat the delirious schisms of the church.
The cultural conflicts in our nation are pre-disposed by humanism, irrationalism, relativism, and a dozen other world views that reject, absolutely reject, any form of absolute truth. Tag it, postmodern theory! But what about Christians, can they reject absolute truth? Can there be all sorts of individual interpretations? Is it just what you feel in your heart? No! 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 a secure life now and 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. “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. The writer of Hebrews says “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Christians, who are we?
Our nation cannot harmonize the cultural crisis, because our nation has lost its identity. Our church cannot harmonize the scandalous divisions, because it has lost its identity. Throughout the history of the church, beginning with Adam and Eve, the church has never been able to hold forth the distinctive of the faith for a long period of time. Professing Christians seem to wander from the truth (2 Tim. 2:18). Christians, who are we?
I have found that most professing Christians are interested in the present time. They are interested in the events of their daily lives. They engage all their faculties to support the desire for self-fulfillment, gratification, and happiness. Children cry or pout in order to get what they want. Adults often take more drastic measures to accomplish the desired result. The Bible provides a graphic description. “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight” (James 4:2). The secular life is driven by individualism and ultimately a rejection of the authority of God. Your secular god is utilitarian and expendable and therefore under your authority. The result is cultural wars in our nation and conflict in the church.
Can we answer the question: Christians, Who are we? The answer is very simple. We are God’s people and subject to His authority. When will we acknowledge the authority of God in our nation, our churches, our families and our personal lives? I would remind you that great men of God have always submitted to God’s authority. In 1521 Martin Luther was asked to deny the truth of the gospel. He refused to deny the truth and stated that “his conscience was captive to the word of God and that unless he were convicted by Scripture and plain reason, for he did not accept the authority of Popes and councils since they had contradicted one another, he would not recant anything. To do so would be neither right nor safe.” Luther concluded, “God help me. Amen”