WHO WILL HOLD THE LINE?

Andrew Breitbart said ‘Politics is downstream of culture’ meaning that the culture shapes politics and that social conservatives should concentrate on the culture. What many Christians do not appreciate is that before the culture comes the faith which shapes how we think and live. Culture is downstream of faith.

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We speak of a culture war, the conflict between the opposing ideals of the progressive forces who wish to radically alter the structures and values of our society and the traditionalists who wish to retain the values and principles which have shaped the West.

This is not a culture war, it is a faith war. Behind the radical progressive assault on our culture is the necessity to sideline the biblically based Christian faith which created that culture. Destroy the foundations and the superstructure falls. The only way of truly defending Western culture against the progressive onslaught is by defence of the Christian faith which created it. As the secularists cut our cultural ties with the foundational religion the culture gradually dies.

Without a foundation in biblical faith our politicians inevitably end up moving with the prevailing zeitgeist, their ultimate value is votes. The forces of progressivism in parliament or senate propose legislation shifting the culture leftward, conservatives half-heartedly oppose it and fail. A new status quo is created which conservatives now defend. The next time the progressives win the status quo is moved leftward again and conservatives move with it. But the status quo is always moving in a progressive direction.

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London ‘Pride’ March

We see this in the cultural travel since the 1960’s: even the wildest radicals in Parliament then would have been aghast at what today’s conservatives accept and propose. David Cameron, a supposedly conservative prime minister of the UK, introduced homosexual marriage, ‘because I’m a conservative’. Such had been the change in the status quo that he thought he was enhancing marriage by fundamentally altering it.

We cannot expect supposedly conservative politicians to conserve anything. Without a clear and steady concept of what is moral and good how can we create a society which is moral and good?

The Christian-rooted Western culture which we have inherited is the source of those values which we hold dear whether we are Christians or not: such as personal responsibility and the right of individuals to work and develop their own talents to the best of their abilities, equality under law, compassion for the poor, racial equality and free speech. These are all drawn from the Bible and the teaching of the church.

Classical culture has allure for modern intellectuals, but in reality its values were pretty close to fascist. It was Christianity that put new values on the table and because the Western world put biblical principles into practice, humans have flourished, enjoyed freedoms and gained prosperity to a much higher degree than nations that reject Christian influence. Today, with progressives striving toward a godless takeover across the West the alarm should be sounding for us all, especially Christians.

Christians in the West have been displaced by a militant minority whom we have allowed to capture the culture, and the biggest culprits in allowing this have been Evangelicals. Those who have practical Bible based solutions to the problems of our society have all too often abandoned the public square at the first sign of resistance.

The words of CS Lewis more than fifty years ago are even more applicable today:

‘As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. . . there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colours, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.’

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CS Lewis

It is our failure to ‘show our Christian colours’ in an effective way which has led to today’s situation. No court ordered any denomination to change the wording of its hymns. No parliament decreed that the church should comply with the latest secular catechism. The church did this to itself voluntarily, at times even eagerly.

In their attempts to make themselves seem relevant the mainstream denominations only succeed in making themselves look weak and ridiculous. The church seems anxious to assure the world that they are not bigoted obscurantists, but every bit as accepting as their secular counterparts. Fighting back in defence of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints is incompatible with the church’s new image.

Denominations whose preachers are trained in secular universities pay a heavy price for having their ministers educated on the cheap. Intellectual fashion seeps down from the avante garde thinker into the universities, from there into the pulpit, then to pew and from the church into wider society. So both church and society lose the moral certitude they once had.

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We are foolish if we expect our mainstream religious organisations to hold the line; if they cannot do that for the faith it is not wise to expect them to do it for the culture. As we look at the history of the church it should be apparent that reformation always comes from below. Those who have positions of authority within any establishment have little impulse to alter the status quo.

If not our political or religious authorities who then will hold the line?

Luther was an obscure monk in an out of the way, insignificant university. Calvin was an unconsidered scholar without position. Knox was the private tutor of schoolboys. The Covenanters who fought for religious freedom in Scotland were scorned by the religious as well as the secular establishment. The Wesleys and Whitefield were rejected by the elites. Wherever we look in the history of the church positive change has come from below.

Who then will hold the line? We will.

14 thoughts on “WHO WILL HOLD THE LINE?

  1. Many thanks Campbell. You have articulated very precisely my own thoughts and concerns. I’m afraid that you are correct. We have in my lifetime seen dramatic change to cultural ‘norms’, to a point where comparisons with the excesses of late-stage Rome would not be amiss. As you have indicated, the pendulum seems to only ever swinging one way, cultural change by a thousand cuts, giving an inch and taking a foot each and every time, where cultural ‘norms’ now are unrecognisable from where we were in the early 60’s. Who was the last demonstrable socially conservative politician of any note?

    1. Things may be bad now but I fear that all the signs are that they will get worse, and that quite quickly. Your comparison with ancient Rome is justified. Society will not recover until the church recovers. We have to remember that the church has been in worse situations than this and been revived. A quick view of history shows that it is only when there is a groundswell of opinion amongst the mass of ordinary Christians that the church recovers its true identity. For the sake of our society as a whole we should be praying and working for the renewal of the church.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement David. Encouraging one another is vital. Too often we feel that we are alone. The greatest advantage the progressives have is the self-censorship of biblical Christians.

      Please, call me Campbell.

  2. Indeed … “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps.11:3) Whilst the religious and political liberal elite work tirelessly to undermine and destroy Christian foundations, we appear to have, in the main, a weak and impotent ‘evangelical leadership’ (have you noticed how the word Leader has largely supplanted the words ‘minister’ and ‘servant’ in today’s evangelical environment?) whose first and last port of call seems to be the multiplying of petitions without effect. “Sign Here”… is the default cry of many who love to be acknowledged as being in the thick of the battle whilst sitting comfortably in their manses or church offices. We live in a day when the cause of God and Truth is at a low ebb in our Nation. Yet these selfsame ‘evangelical leaders’ cannot imagine for one moment that they have been a part, in some measure at least, of the problem. “While men slept ….. an enemy hath done this”! “Who then will hold the line?” Indeed! A very good question?

    1. Clicking an online petition has become the activism of our day when what we need are people willing to speak out. Perhaps we should be praying for God to raise up faithful, articulate and courageous leaders who are willing to call out our own weaknesses as well as point out and rebut the errors of those who wish to transform our society.

  3. Pondering the comment “Destroy the foundations and the superstructure falls”, I wonder if care needs to be taken not to confuse the foundation the Church is built on (on and by Jesus Christ himself), and the foundation society is on. Our western society is not built on Christ but only on a few agreed norms. The more godless our society becomes, the more the cement between the bricks of its structure gets picked away, till all it will take is a big storm, and society will collapse. We have already seen the foundation of sand much of ‘the church’ is wobbling on. Christians were never commissioned by Christ to uphold culture or politics. The floundering church strives (pathetically) to do that. The Church uplifts Christ by word and deed, refusing to be side-tracked by the world’s agenda. Yes, No. Maybe?

    1. You are right in pointing out that we have never been a Christian nation in the sense that the populace being composed of people born again of the Holy Spirit and our legislation and public discourse being based on Scriptural norms. Neither are we commanded in the Bible to create such a nation, Scripture is more sensible than that. I do like your image of a building having the mortar holding its bricks together being picked away until it will not stand. This may illustrate the situation we have arrived at today, but in previous generations the Christian influence was much greater and it could be fairly said that our society was deliberately built on biblical principles. I think that perhaps our different illustrations arise because we are working with differing chronologies.

      Influencing politics and the general culture is not the primary task of Christians and we are not commissioned to uphold culture or politics. We are however, given the cultural commission in Genesis 1, and commissioned by Jesus to be salt and light in a dark and decaying society. Part of following the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is to teach people how to live as Christ has commanded, this will inevitably have an impact on society in general as well as on individuals.

  4. For all its tragic consequences Covid-19 has served to protect our children from exposure to compulsory sex education on alternative life choices. It has brought to light the benefits of having two parents when possible for cohesive family life in times of crisis. The value of grandparents and other family members is also well shown.
    Gayborhood men’s clubs have been strangely absent from places linked to spread of Covid-19. It is a shame to speak of those things, but they are indeed shameful. To be ‘proud’ of such is to pervert the Biblical meaning of deviant and illegitimate. Is God using our present plague to speak to us?

    1. God most assuredly speaks to us through the events around us, the important question is are we prepared to listen. The mass around us are not, but more seriously neither is much of the church.

  5. It is as you have said, we are all is conditioned to tolerate and then accept such things as gay marriage as being an individual right. Some seek to justify themselves by reinterpreting the Biblical message. The press is strangely silent when Christians do speak out against current ‘orthodoxy’. Isaiah said, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who are clever in their own eyes, who have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty’. Jeremiah observes, ‘They dress the wound of my people as if it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace’. God help us to listen!

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