Friday, May 24, 2013

As The Church Drifts To Sleep

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about the intellectual negligence of Christians and many of their allies, such as political conservatives. A recent thread on homosexual marriage at Kevin DeYoung's blog, found here, is an example of what I was referring to. Notice the disproportionately high level of participation by defenders of homosexual marriage. Notice how few people, at a popular conservative Evangelical blog, have been speaking up in defense of the Christian position on the issue. Notice how many of the claims made by the pro-homosexual-marriage side go unanswered. Notice how many good arguments against their position, good arguments we've brought up at this blog many times, go unmentioned. Some of the Christian participants make good points, but the Christian side of the exchange falls well short of what it ought to be. The arguments of the pro-homosexual-marriage side can and should be answered persuasively and by a large number of people, given that the discussion is occurring at a popular conservative Evangelical blog. Yet, that hasn't happened so far. And the same sort of scenario has played out in other places many times, in many contexts. It happens frequently at Christian web sites, at conservative political web sites, on television programs, etc.

I'm glad that a tiny minority of Christians do study issues like homosexual marriage in significant depth and provide good arguments for the Christian position. And that tiny minority receives support from other Christians to some extent. In that sense, I wouldn't say that the church is asleep on this issue. But given the astonishingly small percentage of Christians who do the sort of work that ought to be done on the issue, it seems accurate to say that the church is drifting to sleep, even if we aren't asleep yet. The culture is rapidly declining around us, and we're still so apathetic.

The same is occurring with a lot of other issues, not just homosexual marriage. As I said in my post earlier this month, we need to adapt to the changes that are occurring. We're not living in an equivalent of the 1950s or 1980s. There's been a significant societal shift, and the vast majority of Christians, as well as many of their allies in some contexts, aren't acting like it. Quoting Bible verses, telling people that your view of something like homosexual marriage is "just obvious", etc. isn't enough.

I also wonder what's going on in the lives of Christian men. Why aren't they showing leadership? Where's their desire to fight? When they see something like that thread at Kevin DeYoung's blog, why don't they have a stronger desire to argue for the truth and defend it against counterarguments? Even if some of them are occupied with other worthwhile things, surely (for reasons like the ones I discussed earlier this month) that can't be said of everybody who's remaining silent in these contexts. There's something radically wrong with the church, especially men, when so many people are so silent so often, with so much at stake.


  1. Notice the disproportionately high level of participation by defenders of homosexual marriage. Notice how few people, at a popular conservative Evangelical blog, have been speaking up in defense of the Christian position on the issue. Notice how many of the claims made by the pro-homosexual-marriage side go unanswered.

    I noticed that years ago, which attests to the homosexuals understanding that the Bible is the primary authority against them.

    Years ago, searching Google on the Bible and homosexuality, i noticed most of the results (50 per page) were prohomsexual, and thus in response as an amateur apologist i worked for many months to product an extensive referenced examination and refutation .

    Since that time i have gotten into extensive debates with pro homosex polemicists (PHP) on Huffington post (which hindered it) and other places by God's grace, but the PHPs evidence they do not want to be bound by consistent and proven exegetical rules, and the end result of the hermeneutics they employ in seeking to negate the Biblical condemnation of homosexual relations and to find sanction for the same negates the coherence and immutability of most any moral law. And of the authority of Scripture itself.

    Thus it get discouraging to engage them again, not to say i would not as the Lord leads and enables.

    So-called "egalitarians" operate much the same way in seeking to negate such things as God being the head of Christ and the man over the women to mean anything to do with leadership/authority (it only means "source" they say).

  2. Hi Jason,

    I meant to write this on the original post, but didn't get around to it.

    I think another factor that discourages "conservative" commenters from commenting on threads more is biased or lousy moderation. The field is often tilted in favor of liberals and against conservatives on many blogs. When that happens, the conservative commenter(s) just leaves and abandons the field. Lurkers don't know or refuse to see the bias of the blog moderators and will then draw the erroneous conclusion that the libs have the better arguments. (When in actuality they have the better rhetoric of ridicule, scorn, and dismissal which they think serves as the better argument.)

    Just some thoughts.

  3. I think there's validity to the points made by PeaceByJesus and TUAD.

    As I mentioned in the previous thread, it seems to me that there are many factors that go into producing the phenomenon I've been referring to. My sense is that the following are some of the most significant factors:

    - The anti-Christian or liberal position is often easier to take. It's easier for an atheist, for example, to keep saying "I doubt that" than it is for a Christian to keep arguing for his position. Similarly, somebody who doubts the mainstream view of what happened on September 11, 2001, for instance, can easily raise doubts about one thing or another. Defending the mainstream view of what happened is harder to do, but that doesn't mean it's incorrect. Truth is often harder to defend than error in some ways. Christians and their allies, such as political conservatives, often have to do more work than their opponents. But they frequently aren't willing to do so. A lazy liberal often has an advantage over a lazy conservative.

    - On issues where we're in the midst of a transitional phase, such as homosexual marriage, the former minority often retains a minority mindset and the former majority often retains a majority mindset. Minorities sometimes fight harder, like people frequently do when they're cornered. And majorities are often presumptuous, complacent, and so on. Christians and political conservatives often have an unhealthy majority mindset.

    - The American Dream (and equivalents of it in other places). People spend too much time and other resources on their career, their relatives and friends, and activities like following sports and watching movies. They'll sometimes fit into their schedule something like apologetics or the study of philosophy or church history, but not as a primary or secondary concern. They'd sooner cut something like Christian apologetic work out of their schedule than cut out something like going to a movie or attending a concert. They're living more as Americans than Christians. Though the two ways of living aren't always mutually exclusive, they've become so to a higher degree lately. If you actually believe that your citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), instead of just professing it hypocritically, that makes a major difference.

    - Anti-intellectualism. Don't argue with atheists, advocates of homosexual marriage, and such. Just pray, quote Bible passages, and so on. That's easier, and it frees up more of your time to pursue the American Dream. And you can make it seem pious by wrenching passages like John 20:29, 1 Corinthians 1:18, and Hebrews 11:1 out of context.

    - The most prominent sins of our culture, such as sexual sin. In a culture that's so pornographic, a lot of people are going to be inordinately influenced by their sexual desires. It moves people away from belief systems like Christianity and political conservatism, and it weakens the resolve of many of those who remain in those systems. Materialism is a factor as well. It's part of what drives people to be inordinately committed to living out the American Dream.

    1. Jason,
      I would agree with this post and all the comments. I would also add that this is a very big issue that our CHURCHES are not addressing very well or at all.

      On a number of occasions, I have asked my pastors in the various churches that I have attended (due to changing jobs etc...) to pray for very vital "social" issues in which they have significant impact on our society and Christianity, they have refused to do so.. I would be ignored, my emails go unanswered, and my direct questions would receive an indirect response. (I never asked my pastors to be a lobby group, but to speak out and pray because of Christ in our hearts...)

      I think that there is something to be said concerning the fact that God is judging and punishing the church in a way for many Christians adhering to this (R)2K doctrine. Even a cursory glance at this doctrine in relation to epistemology and presuppositionalism would clearly yield an understanding that the error of (R)2K is clear. Yet, we have highly intelligent and biblically minded (in other areas) seminarians who don't see how presuppositionalism and epistemology are connected to areas of ethics and the "culture" wars...

      I also think that your last point about prominent sins in our culture is a very deeply ingrained one... It's everywhere, and Christians must be on guard to stay away from it.. It affects us more than people realize.

      Thank you!

    2. Christopher,

      I agree that there's a lot of neglect of social issues and other important matters by pastors and churches in general. I'll mention a few of the factors that I think are involved.

      A lot of pastors are trying to do too much. They often make bad judgments about what to cut out of their schedule in the process. Reading books, studying issues, and preparing sermons, for example, can be neglected in order to attend more church events and do other things that the pastor could and probably should avoid.

      Since so many people claim to be offended because churches are too political, pastors often try to avoid allegedly political issues in an attempt to accommodate the objectors. But the objection doesn't make sense, especially given how little so many churches address issues that are considered political. And it seems that many of the people who object to the alleged political nature of churches don't stop watching movies because of the political nature of Hollywood, don't stop associating with schools, unions, and other entities that are political in a liberal way, etc. In other words, it seems that the objection that churches are too political is often disingenuous. I suspect that it's often just a contrived excuse used by people who are looking for something to criticize or looking for some justification for why they don't attend church, for example. Yet, I imagine that many pastors try to avoid allegedly political issues in order to accommodate these people.

      Many pastors rightly recognize that their congregations are largely ignorant and apathetic about some of the most important issues in the Christian life. They try to accommodate the most immature people in the congregation. Or they don't try to accommodate the most immature ones, but they still aim too low. They give out too little meat and too much milk. I think I've said this before, but the modern church in the United States is a junior high church living in a college culture. We have congregations filled with doctors, lawyers, businessmen, many people with college degrees, etc., yet we don't act like it. In some contexts, we expect less from people than the surrounding non-Christian culture does.

  4. Another factor not mentioned yet is fear. The homosexual lobby, certainly in the UK where I live, is aggressive and has all levels of the establishment on their side. Christian organisations publish instances of where people are having their livelihoods threatened (e.g. facing spurious prosecutions, demotions, dismissals) for taking a stand against the promotion of homosexuality; this has the positive effect of showing that the threat to liberty is real, but negatively it discourages people from speaking up in case they are next. Why not let someone else fight the battles?

    That then comes down to the spiritual problem that we love our lives in this present world too much to face the short-term consequences of faithfulness.

    1. That's true, David. And it doesn't look like the situation will get better anytime soon.

  5. Identical twin studies "prove" homosexuality is not genetic:

  6. The homosexual lobby is aggressive, as the demonic spirit that drives it is. Like as they pressed upon Lot in seeking to gain entry in their lust, so they press against any opposition in seeking access for the same, and demanding affirmation of it.

    It is also of note that while Lot is frequently invoked as an example of the carnal Christ, not without some warrant, this naive weak willed believer exampled a level of hospitality that is rare now, and in opposing the Sodomites risked his life for the brethren, whom he loved more than his own, while actually having 2 daughters that were still virgins (although risking the loss of that) while the rest were married, in a city given to fornication.

    Meanwhile, for decades now the homosexual lobby has been following was has been widely regarded as the handbook for the gay agenda, that of "After the Ball," written by two Harvard-trained (homosexual) psychologists Marshall Kirk (1957 - 2005) and Hunter Madsen (pen name Erastes Pill), who was also schooled in social marketing.

    The strategy they proposed advocated avoiding portraying gays as aggressive challengers, but as victims instead, while making all those who opposed them to be evil persecutors. As a means of the latter, they promoted "jamming," in which Christians, traditionalists, or anyone else who opposes the gay agenda are publicly smeared. Their strategy was based on the premise that, "In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector. The purpose of victim imagery is to make straight people feel very uncomfortable."

    Kirk and Madsen's open admission of their deceptive tactics is revealing: [O]ur effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof. "...the person's beliefs can be altered whether he is conscious of the attack or not.." “The campaign we outline in this book, though complex, depends centrally upon a program of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising.” More

    And indeed this lobby has all levels of the establishment on their side, even if they are "straight," as they overall also are in rebellion against God (as my flesh is), saying, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. " (Psalms 2:3) Herod and Pilate were made friends because of a common enemy.

    The Kirk and Madsen strategy usually results in the opposition being so wary of being labelled a "hater," "homophobic," or the like that they, including churches, are fearful of taking any stand.

    But rather than the opposite extreme of such souls as Westboro Baptist, what is needed is fearless and reasoned confrontation, with compassion but also (depending upon what type of person you are dealing with) exposure of the sophistry of homosexual polemics.

    All of which is purposed to bring souls to the same place of repentance we have had to come to, that of a poor and contrite condition in which we turn to the Lord to be saved from our sins and gain a new life with Him, fully believing Him to be the Son of God. May we know His help now.

  7. Make that "carnal Christian" regarding Lot.

  8. I used to participate in those kinds of discussions frequently & vigorously. Any more I rather rarely venture into them (although I muster as much vigor as I can when I do). It's wearisome to be one of the few defenders of the politically conservative or religiously orthodox position (& often the only defender!), & the demoralizing effect is far greater when this is the case on Christian fora. I remember many drawn-out discussions in a certain (ultimately fluffy) evangelical forum I used to frequent, where I was repeatedly castigated for being "argumentative" & "unloving" when I was the only person staking out a full-fledged argument for, say, justification by faith alone, & having several respondents (many only drive-by commenters!), few of whom could keep their own arguments straight or respond substantively to what I had said. Rinse, wash, & repeat the same in multiple fora over several years & it often seems to be a fruitless endeavor, particularly when there are pressing matters in "real life" (personal & work life, local church & denominational life, local & national political life) which cannot readily be resolved by playing Athanasius contra mundum on an Internet message board full of faceless commenters with whom I have no established relationship. I don't intend this as an excuse so much as to say that if I must engage in that kind of discussion, it's preferable to do it face-to-face, or at least with people whose faces I know.

    Not at all to minimize the ministry of Triablogue which has been of much help to me over the years (though for the last few year, in line with a general draw-down on Internet activity, I have been but an infrequent reader, never mind commenter, in which I was never more than infrequent).