Saturday, July 04, 2015

A War We Can Win

Christians lost the cultural battle years ago. This is confirmed by the latest decision of the US Supreme Court. We need a new strategy, one that targets a battle that we are better placed to win.

In his editorial, the cultural war. David Brooks suggests a different battle for Christians to fight.

Consider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed. Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements. Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital. Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms. Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely...

I don’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, and of course fights about the definition of marriage are meant as efforts to reweave society. But the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable. Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace.

This is exactly right. Loving one another in the power of the Spirit is the place were Christians have a competitive advantage.

In Old Testament times, God used a prophetic approach. It was not that successful, because God knew it was not his best shot. He sent Jesus to live and die and rise again to open up a new and better way. With the ministry of Jesus, he shifted from prophetic confrontation to loving involvement. He shifted from pushing evil away, to drawing evil in and overcoming it with crushing love. That is why Jesus said that people would recognise his followers by their love (John 13:34-35). Loving one another is the power of the gospel.

God is saying, you will not win the war by persisting with a battle that was lost long ago. Confronting a strong enemy in a conventional warfare is pointless. A weaker force can amplify its strength by engaging guerrilla warfare (4GW), by attacking the strong force in it soft underbelly.

Instead of railing against the culture, we should start building Christian community within the culture, and draw in the lost and broken people who have been wreaked and discarded by modern culture. The people on television look happy and connected with the rest of the cast. But modern culture is not so rosy on the ground. In real life, people are isolated lonely, frightened and often hurt. They would be open to the gospel, and Christian community, if they were targeted by love. This is where modern culture is hugely vulnerable.

Brooks is wrong about one thing. He said that the defining face of social conservatism could be this.

Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.
He is wrong about this. Social conservatives are not capable of doing what he suggests, because the prefer to stand on the side-lines in the conform of their mansions and yell at the encroaching evil. They claim the name of Jesus, but they are not willing to get their hands dirty and engage with the world and love and love and love as Jesus did. It will take a more radical type of Christian to do fulfil Jesus calling to love one another as he loved us.

More at

No comments: