Living In A Post-Christian World

Being a Christian in a post-christian America

I believe the Modern Church, in too many instances, has become nothing much more than a sanctified country club of like-minded individuals who have a deeply held desire to be religious and in communion with God while wanting, at the same time, to feel free to exercise themselves as completely autonomous individuals. Such things encompass a multitude of sins.

So let’s just think about all this for a moment. What does the kind of person mentioned above think the church of Christ stands for? Does he think it’s just some accouterment that exists to validate his individual autonomy and freedoms while giving him the opportunity to feel good about himself? If this is the case, then such a church would no longer have the right to call itself “of Christ.” Actually, “of Belial” would be a much more appropriate description. Truth is, true New Testament Christianity can be true to itself only if it’s willing to be iconoclastic. By this I mean that if the church belonging to Christ has any hope of doing what it has been called by the Lord to do, it must be willing to be actively engaged in breaking to pieces the world’s idols, and this would, for certain, include demystifying the State by rejecting any form of Statism/Babelism.

In other words, one clear function of the church belonging to Christ in any age is to unmask the idols and expose them for what they really are—i.e., nothing but sham gods. There is no other basis for doing so than the truths contained in God’s Word. With this in mind, notice that the apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:15, exclaimed the “House of God, which is the church of the living God,” is nothing less than “the pillar and ground of the truth.” This means, among other things, that the pathologies that were present in the pre-Christian world (viz., the economic, social, familial, sexual, and legal aspects of life) are very much alive in our post-Christian world. (By “pre-Christian world,” I mean a world that is predominantly pagan in its outlook. By “post-Christian world” I mean a society that has been almost totally secularized, as ours was during the last third of the previous century.) Consequently, the truths taught in the Bible, particularly those found in the New Testament, are especially meaningful to our post-Christian culture, not just because they are God’s truths, but because they were written in the midst of a pre-Christian society. Thus, we are today in a position to read the truths of the Bible within basically the same context in which they were written. (Although our present culture is not pagan per se, it is nevertheless neo-pagan in its outlook.)

Consequently, American Christians, like African and Asian Christians in the last few generations, are duty bound to see themselves as subversives in an alien culture. That this has proved to be most difficult for Christians living in America is an understatement. Why? Because, our society, although a cut-flower generation, is still sustained by the Christian and biblical nutrients that were originally derived from its founding roots. It is, therefore, most unpalatable for an American who is a Christian to think of his or her country as the alien neo-pagan nation it really is. Even so, the invitation addressed to those who made up the pre-Christian culture of the first century was, “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). Living, as we are, in a post-Christian world, we are called upon to do the very same thing.

Thus, it behooves us to pay closer attention to the book of John and related portions of the New Testament. There “the world” is described as the system of political, cultural, and religious leadership that stood against God and refused to listen to the preaching and teaching that exposed its injustices and unrighteousness. It is this kind of world that Jesus said “hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). The writers of the New Testament realized that the followers of Jesus Christ were no different in this respect from their Lord: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Thus, Paul’s description of a sinful lifestyle was living “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Of course, even when the lines are not drawn so clearly between the gospel of Christ and an adulterous environment, as they now are in our post-Christian society, an inevitable strain will always exist between Biblical faith and culture. (By saying this I don’t mean to imply that I think these lines are clear in the minds of those deluded by secularism. They are not. Nevertheless, those not unduly influenced by secularism should be able to see this quite easily.) As long as the Biblical world view is not identical to any other religious, cultural, or political systems (and this will always be the case), any effort to relax the tension between them, accommodating pure New Testament Christianity to the “best” of the surrounding society, surrenders the gospel to the very thing that debases it. Therefore, the preachers of “Peace, peace! When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14), spout theologies of harmony designed to avoid conflict at any cost. This produces a dumbed-down church that is tamed and ineffective and doesn’t have a clue regarding its own idolatries. (I’m speaking here of the seeker-friendly, market oriented “church as you want it” that has become so prevalent in our culture.) If one stretches this template over the American Church, then he is able to see more clearly, at least in part, the problem that plagues us today.

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