Christianity and Culture (7)

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).

Cultures are based on belief systems and documents, which is not wrong. What’s wrong is when they are the wrong belief systems and documents. Is there a right one?

Absolutely, the Bible. God required that His Word be central in Israel, and He requires that it be central in the Church today. Whenever Israel departed from His Word, it started going backwards into some form of idolatry which led to His judgement, and the church historically has been the same.

Consider the issue of sodomy today. With Darwinism gaining ascendency in the church and the world since the publication of “The Origin of the Species” in 1859, churchmen started doubting the inerrancy of the scriptures. They decided the best response was retreat from the confrontation, and we haven’t stopped since.

Has this caused no end of drama for us? Absolutely. Our retreat has not left us looking confident and assured, but spineless and foolish. The world perceives us largely through our leaders. When they’ve discarded the Bible, departed from the ideological battlefield and clearly been in headlong retreat, what do we expect the world to think?

This doesn’t mean we have a blind faith. Biblical faith in God is never blind, but is based on the sure facts of scripture, which are actually supported by science. The Psalmist cried,

Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law (Ps.119:18).

With the church in retreat post Darwin, it was logical that World War I would decimate Europe as it did. It wasn’t just that there were new, more efficient ways of killing people like the machine gun, heavy artillery, the torpedo or the economic blockade (which Britain pursued relentlessly against Germany). The leaven of the kingdom of God, which God commanded His people to spread, had departed from Europe. So governments in pursuit of victory, were prepared to cast away all restraints and wage total war. It’s been one hundred years, but still Europe hasn’t recovered.

The devastation that struck Europe in 1914-18 was inconceivable even to pessimists in 1913. The face of the world was permanently altered. Whole cultures disintegrated, and the rise of Bolshevism and Nazism brought decades of additional devastation. We still live under the shadow of that great war.

The slide continued, so that by the 1960’s, we have the beginnings of the gay movement in the U.S., which simply exemplified the continuum. Social beliefs in the family were breaking down, because the Western church’s beliefs in scripture had already been broken down.

What’s there been to replace it?

Nothing, only humanism. Has this got to be the end of the story?

Not at all. Consider these verses, which I will later summarise:

The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded (Prov.13:13).

Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity (Prov.13:21).

The Bible is to be applied to individuals, families, churches, communities and nations. You didn’t think it applied to nations? Think of this: the word “nation” is used some 480 times in scripture, like this one:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Ps.33:12a).

And,

Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful (Isa.26:2).

This is the simple, Biblical principle:

When an individual, family, church, community or a nation despises the Word of God, they will be in debt to it, and God ensures they will be pursued by adversity. But when an individual, family, church, community or a nation is righteous and fears God’s commandments, they will be rewarded by God.

But the church by and large has not believed its own book. Or when it has, it’s selected those parts it chose to believe, and discarded the rest. And God holds us accountable for our indifference to His Word, and deals with us accordingly.

How would you feel if your spouse was faithful to you 60% of the time, but 40% of the time was sleeping around? That’s exactly how God feels when His bride, the Church refuses to act covenantally with her Lord, but goes about soliciting the favours of others. His wrath and judgement come, as an aggrieved husband, and that’s the explanation for the state of the church in the Western world today.

It happened frequently with Israel, beginning with the episode of the golden calf (Ex.32), it was happening in Jesus’ day, when Israel’s religious leaders were deeply in league with Rome, and didn’t want Jesus to threaten their corrupt relationship (Jn.11:47-53), and it’s happening today.

Conclusion:

You’d like the culture and state of the church in the West to change?

Well that’s good. It begins with individuals, families, churches, communities and nations doing what He told us to do: be covenantally faithful to Him.

If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isa.1:19-20).