The Decline of America and the Role of the Church

What is the relationship of the Church in America to the moral decay and lawlessness in our society?

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 amuck. The American church is far more American than it is 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 amuck. The American church is far more American than it is the Church. So let judgment begin with the household of God.

John Barber is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and lives in Jacksonville. Fla. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.