Reviewing early church history reveals that it was truth-telling that brought Christianity into conflict with its culture, but on the other hand, it was truth telling that resulted in hundreds coming to Christ. In those days, it was not looking socially respectable that drew people to Christ, it was being faithful to the truth they preached that challenged what the world believed.
Today the idea that Christianity is an outdated way of thinking is a common objection to the Christian message in the United States and in other places in the West. This objection is not new, but there is little doubt that this conclusion is spreading as naturalism continues to conquer the intellectual landscape. However, Christians should not be surprised by this development, in fact, they should expect it. Jesus announced it would be this way (Jn 15:18-21) and history testifies to the truth of Christ’s words. As the world around the Church becomes more and more naturalistic in its view of reality, the idea of God as an implausible proposition increases proportionately. However, many Christians, especially in the evangelical community (the theological tribe to which I belong), are desperately trying to reverse this trend.
Unfortunately, the present strategy of many evangelicals is to re-invent the church, making it appear more relevant to the world with its naturalistic conclusions. This re-imaging began with trying to look like the world in outward appearance and sound like the world in speech and music. Now it includes a mindless affirmation of ideas contrary to a Christian vision of reality.
Of course, the world sees right through the new plastic image for what it is—superficial, reactionary, and vacuous. To be clear, it is not the desire to reach the lost that is troublesome, it is being tone deaf to historic Christianity and its lack of dependence on God the Holy Spirit to live the new life in Christ.
Francis A. Schaeffer lamented in the latter half of the 20th century that many evangelicals were beginning to “ape the world’s wisdom” (No Final Conflict, Vol 3, 47). Worldly marketing tools, converting the sacred into the common, and opening the doors to noise and flashing flat screens indicate evangelicals have lost their confidence in the power of the Spirit and the Word. The justification for this re-imaging is to either lure young people into the church or keep them in the church while trying to convince the world this means evangelicals “really understand” the culture.
Of course, this is anything but the case. Aside from this pragmatic madness, evangelicals naively accept, in full or in part, standpoint epistemology (read Critical Race Theory) as the new hermeneutic as they pretend to be social activists to the glory of God. I say pretending because while intentions may be good, the sum of what is being done is repeating the mantras of a few social discontents who intentionally deny or contradict the facts of history. Of course, ways are found to justify this move by selectively quoting from the Bible.