Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Decline of America and the Role of the Church

Between the Dallas shootings, the Hillary mess, and so much more, I've been thinking about the relationship of the Church in America to the moral decay and lawlessness in our society.

Now, if you think about it, most culture-minded Christians assume that our national problems are largely a byproduct of the failure of churches to "transform" their surrounding culture. They are absentee in their cultural mandate. Having written a great deal on the cultural mandate, I see that connectivity as well.

However, I want to suggest that the real problem is not "with" the church and its cultural program. The problem is instead "within" the Church. Let me explain this nuance.

When Paul, for example, says in 2 Tim. 3:1-4 that "in the last days difficult times will come", then gives his long list of difficulties, it is natural to think he is decrying the state of affairs in the culture. But read vs 5. The treacherous people Paul is talking about are in the church, for they are "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power."

Here, then, is a clue to the relationship of the decline of the churches in America with the decline of American society. When Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth..."You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13;14), he meant that the Church is both a standard of what community "ought to look like", and, is thus a citadel or safeguard against the decay of the world around it. And here's the main point: the Church IS these things simply by being the Church...a strong, Kingdom-oriented people, bent on holiness.

We can talk all we like about "worldview" and the need to practice the cultural mandate. But what can a worldly church offer the world that it does not already have? Before we are a more culturally-minded church, we must first be a Christ-centered, holy-minded church. We must be THE CHURCH.

This in my view is a major reason we are witnessing a world run a muck. The American church is far more American than it is the Church. So let judgement begin with the household of God.

2 comments:

  1. I'm still waiting for someone to show me from scripture this cultural mandate you speak of. I know we are to make disciples, but that is for the Kingdom of heaven, not the culture. I have written on the reality that the more we focus on the culture, in saving it??? or whatever transforming presence is put forth, the more the church becomes like the culture. So punt this aspect.

    The reason this country was anything close to being Christian in its beginning was not because Christians set out to make it Christian, they set out to be the church.

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    1. Timmy. The Cultural Mandate begins in Genesis 1:26-28, and then grows through the language of the Covenants until it finds fullest expression in the Great Commission. These are not two different mandates, but bookends, if you will, of the same doctrine. If you wish to see a full treatment of the matter, see the book to the right of this reply, The Road From Eden. Thanks.

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