It is an understatement to say the world is changing. Of course, it is always changing, but the global cultural changes now underway are profound. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize homosexual marriages in all 50 states merely highlights a vast sweeping social and religious change that is sweeping through the entire globe.
Consider some recent events.
In Canada, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the Ontario law society acted within its rights when it denied Trinity Western University the right to accredit a law school. This was because of TWU’s insistence that all students adhere to standards of sexual ethics within the Christian faith as they attend that institution. The Ontario justices believe this fails to protect the rights of individuals who differ.
On the international scene, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is calling the west and the U.S. in particular, a “godless nation.” Here is a part of his quote: “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.” Interestingly enough, Putin has become more outspoken about the plight of persecuted Christians than almost any western leader.
What an amazing turn of events.
I am old enough to remember when the west called the Soviet Union a “godless nation,” and now Russia is describing the west in those exact terms!
Furthermore, the astonishing growth of the Christian church in parts of the world that once had little gospel witness is remarkable. Contrast that to the overwhelming decline of the Christian faith in Europe, and one gets a picture of one of the most astonishing cultural and spiritual shifts in a thousand years. In short, areas where one could see the strength of the Christian church has shifted overwhelmingly.
For evangelical believers living in Canada and the U.S., these are important days for us. The great danger is that we become reactionary, striking out with harsh moralism intended to condemn our culture and distance ourselves from the opportunity to be witnesses of God’s amazing love and grace. An equally great danger is that we lose our rootedness in the Bible and simply begin to adopt the moral values of our culture.
Evangelicalism itself is now in a battle to discover whether it will remain rooted in the Bible.
What must we do?
For one, I believe we need to use this opportunity to call Christians to fidelity to Scripture.
We need to rediscover four essential confessions regarding our relationship to the Bible:
- The authority of scripture to provide us with the last word
- The clarity of scripture in speaking to key areas especially regarding sexual faithfulness
- The sufficiency of scripture in providing us all we need for life and godliness
- The inerrancy of Scripture – affirming that the Bible accurately presents the very words of God, and that to disobey scripture is to disobey God.
Secondly, we also need to re-imagine our relationship to the state and to culture in general.
On the one hand, we must affirm the principles of Romans 13 that we as believers are subject to the state. Yet we must also affirm our commitment to the principles of Acts 4:19, that on issues upon which God directly commands, we must obey God rather than the governing authorities. And as such, we as Christians must view ourselves in terms of Paul’s words in Colossians 1:13: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
For us, conversion must be a radical break, not just from our old way of life, but also in terms of our allegiance. We must break with allegiance to our old culture, and embrace a new allegiance to the culture of the Kingdom of God. In short, we must become pilgrims and aliens in the culture in which we live. We must view ourselves as the early church did. We must be the fragrance of Christ to a dying culture.