51: Everything Must Change
This is the first version of a NewsCWiPP under the new title InsideOut. Our ministry has changed its name to truthxchange. Our website, truthxchange.com, has a new look, new content, including audio and a blog. Now you can all react and interact. InsideOut seeks to examine what is happening on the inside (or underside) of events, just below the surface of the culture, and bring out their real religious and cultural significance.
Emergent leader Brian McClaren says “everything must change,” not only websites and titles. Our political candidates seem to agree. I too am witness to enormous changes over my adult life.
I was raised in the heyday of European rationalistic secular humanism, and came as a student to America in 1964 to discover a culture so impregnated with Christianity that I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Well, not quite, but the “sacred canopy” over the culture was basically a biblical, Judeo-Christian worldview.
From the Sixties on, two major religious trends began to define society.
1. Simplistic Christianity
After the solid theological days of early 20th century Evangelicalism, which defined itself according to the great fundamentals of the faith, much of Christianity turned to a more sensational, experience-oriented “fundamentalism” that got caught up in the power of television (with its inevitable scandals), mega-church commercialism and cheap shot religion evidenced in such expressions as “God-hates-fags.” The culture began to see Evangelicalism as a mindless, even dangerous religion. Was D. James Kennedy overly optimistic when he said in 2004 that “if the trend [the growth in the number of Evangelicals] continues, and I believe it will, American Christians will be in the majority sometime in the next decade”? Perhaps he did not count on “Evangelicalism” changing.
2. The Cultural Revolution
Appearing at first to be another generational round of student dissent, the Sixties movement actually redefined the nature of the world.
Authority: The social rebellion against university senates, the police and the Vietnam War stemmed from a principial rejection of all authority and hierarchy. In the place of authority, egalitarianism reigned, aided by postmodern deconstruction. Now, all truth is relative.
Sexuality: “Free sex” became resistance to normative heterosexual gender roles, and has morphed into a utopian vision for a pan-sexual/omni-gendered society.
Spirituality: The culture of love-not-war, of LSD trips and Eastern meditation, of diversity and tolerance has become the gateway for “can’t-we-all-get-along” interfaith neo-paganism, with its techniques of yoga, mysticism and meditation.
The marginal Sixties revolution has become the dominant worldview of contemporary culture, appealing to the social and intellectual elite, in whose hands are the levers of social control (media, politics, business). These opinion-shapers, with little opposition, are now articulating a religiously pagan worldview for the life of the planetary community. These cultural progressives see no problem with mixing “church” (pagan religion) and “state” (electoral politics).
Two other important events have subsequently taken place following the social decline of Christianity, and the social rise of neo-paganism.
1. Good-bye Secular Humanism
Secular humanism is no longer the dominant non-Christian worldview. Philosophically, it has been radically undermined by the postmodern rejection of the objectivity of human reason. In addition, according to neo-pagans, Secular “inhumanism” has “disenchanted” the world, leaving us spiritually bankrupt.
2. Good-bye Simplistic Fundamentalism
Young evangelicals are rightfully in reaction against the over-simplified Christian Fundamentalism. Some have discovered a more biblically-based traditional theology and practice. Others, calling themselves Emergent or “Progressive” have refused the route of past historic Christian wisdom, and have gone in the only other possible intellectual direction, “Christian” liberalism, With Liberal apostasy, they change everything about orthodoxy, denying the the atoning death of Christ for sinners and the great solas of the Reformation, and adopting elements of pagan spirituality-global interfaith and subjective mysticism.
While having precious little to do with the Gospel, this so-called “Great Emergence” fits with looming Globalism and the re-emergence of ALL IS ONE pagan monism.
Things are indeed changing. While Christians were in the majority, all kinds of “fundie” weaknesses and superficialities could be tolerated. With Christianity now seriously marginalized, many younger Christians are seeking social acceptance and popularity with the dominant post Christian culture via an atonement-less, syncretistic social gospel. The world’s rejection of Christianity is cleverly blamed on narrow old-fashioned traditions, not the scandal of the Cross.
The seduction of this pseudo-gospel, promoted by major Christian leaders and Christian publishing houses, is powerful. The sleeping Church needs to wake up-for at least two reasons: to be wise citizens and to be discerning, genuinely “missional” believers.
But one thing will never change: JESUS REIGNS. His death for sinners remains forever efficacious. He is building his truly global church, and, as Martin Luther knew, “he will win the battle.” The serious question now is, as another hymn asks: “Who is on the Lord’s side?”