Culture & Wordview

Tests of God’s Grace: Suicide and the Death of a Child

Oct 17th, 2015 | By

In the early days of December in 1983, I received a call in my office from my father in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He shared with me the tragedy of my 23-year-old brother’s suicide. My brother knew Jesus as His Savior, but struggled much of his life with severe depression. At the low point in one of those cycles of depression, he took his life. As a family, we asked the typical questions: “Why? What could we have done to prevent this? Why did we not see the signs? Why did we miss them?” Guilt, questioning, doubt in God’s goodness and grace naturally followed. These were some of the most difficult days of my life. But those days drove me to a deeper exploration of God’s goodness and His grace.

What Is Evangelical Christianity’s Place in Postmodern America?

Oct 10th, 2015 | By

The role of evangelical Protestant Christianity in the development of America has been profound. The linkage between the First Great Awakening and the decision for independence from Great Britain is incontrovertible. Consequently, the desire for both political liberty and religious liberty energized the independence movement (see Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution). Evangelical Christianity therefore maintained its location at American culture’s center until the waves of immigration began in the late 19th and into the early 20th centuries, when Protestant evangelicalism competed with Roman Catholicism and Judaism for the cultural center. Into the 20th century, especially after the immigration laws were changed in the 1960s, new religious faiths entered American culture, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, among others.

The Devaluing of Life in America

Sep 19th, 2015 | By

Modern medicine affirms a proposition that is quite consistent with God’s Word—that life is a continuum. (For the Christian, the Bible teaches that life extends from conception on into eternity, for all human beings will live forever.) The DNA strands present at conception are species-specific and the beginning of a new and unique individual human. . . Furthermore, the Bible also affirms consistently that humans are of infinite worth and value because they bear the image of God. Humans both resemble God and represent Him as stewards over His world. The life-as-continuum concept means that at all stages of development the human life is of value to God.

America in Crisis: The 21st Century and the Future of Genuine, Biblical Christianity

Sep 5th, 2015 | By

Recently, I completed reading one of the most important books I have read in some time: George Marsden’s The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief. Marsden is arguably one of the most significant evangelical Christian historians writing today. I have read all of his books, which have profoundly shaped my understanding of both American history and of American evangelicalism. This most recent of Marsden’s books helps us immensely in understanding the crisis currently unfolding in American civilization. I would like to summarize the major arguments of Marsden’s book and then offer some implications about where we as the church of Jesus Christ go from here.

Planned Parenthood and the “Negation of Human Dignity”

Aug 29th, 2015 | By

In 1947 C. S. Lewis published The Abolition of Man, in which he charted the “negation of human dignity in the name of progress, or compassion, or humanity, or science.” He lived long enough to see the accuracy of his assessment: “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.” Planned Parenthood, in its harvesting of fetal body parts and in its view of the human being, manifests “the negation of human dignity” and an effort to “make men what they please.”

Vaccines and the Stewardship of Life

Aug 22nd, 2015 | By

Quite amazingly, a “vaccine doubter” movement is growing in America. Those who adhere to this elixir believe that the risks of vaccination are much greater than the risk of the diseases vaccines are supposed to prevent. This is especially stunning because, in the words of columnist Daniel Henninger, “Life without serious disease for the majority is now taken for granted as the natural order. The young don’t sign up for health insurance because they don’t need it. Forgotten over time is the extraordinary human effort and intelligence that produced the good life today. . .” As a result of the anti-vaccination movement, US measles cases have jumped 300% from 2013 to 2014. Others have made vaccinations an ethical issue out of concern over the source of some vaccination serums. According to a Pew Foundation poll, today about 9% of Americans consider vaccinations unsafe!

The Identity Crisis in American Culture

Aug 8th, 2015 | By

The deep-seated commitment to the pursuit of personal autonomy, the vital center of the Postmodern, Postchristian American culture, has produced several effects. The Millennials, who passionately have bought into this commitment, have no loyalty to institutions. For that reason the local church, even if they are Christians, is not that important to them. Technology has enhanced this pursuit of autonomy, enabling millennials to create and fashion their own digital reality. . . But, embracing the pursuit of autonomy as the chief goal of life has also produced dysfunction, disorientation and confusion. Many millennials are experiencing an identity crisis. In this Perspective, I want to focus on two major illustrations of the growing evidence of this identity crisis in early 21st-century American culture.

Atheism Institutionalized?

Jun 27th, 2015 | By

In his book, Culture Wars [Basic Books, 1991], sociologist James Davison Hunter argues that American culture is experiencing a crisis of moral authority. On one side of the cultural cleavage, “the progressive” claims that the individual, autonomous self is the source of moral authority, while on the other side, “the orthodox” claims that something transcendent is the source of moral authority. This struggle to define America’s cultural center informs the debate over abortion, euthanasia, sexuality issues, education, law and the role of government in our lives. It is a battle for the future.

Caitlyn Jenner, Feminism and Sexual Confusion in American Culture

Jun 20th, 2015 | By

The cover of the July issue of Vanity Fair displays Caitlyn Jenner (the new transgender identity of 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner). Caitlyn is the new “poster girl” of the transgender movement in western civilization … There is obvious tension between the transgender movement and modern feminism.

“Speak the Truth in Love”— to a Postmodern, Postchristian Culture

Jun 6th, 2015 | By

The assumption of personal faith, which used to be a staple of American culture, is no longer valid. Postmodern pluralism and relativism define our culture and personal autonomy drives individual ambition and meaning. For those of us who love Christ and see our identity as being in Christ, it is easy to become defensive and imagine ourselves as “an aggrieved and repressed remnant.” But the New Testament offers another approach: Believers in Christ are to speak the truth in love. Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, argues that Christians should be a “joyful minority. [But] we are no longer effective at persuasion because we lack humility. Some in the faith community are losing legitimacy among younger people because many Christians only speak truth and fail to do truth.”