Christian Social Engagement in a Post-Christian America: Maybe We Should Change Our Tune?

I write this with some trepidation, because I am well aware of the all-too-common tendency among us to misread, misinterpret, misunderstand and misapply. So, let me be clear about what I am NOT going to say in this post before I try to make my point.

  • I am NOT saying that Christians should retreat from engagement in the social and political arena. I do not believe that the church’s task is political, but spiritual – we are here to introduce sinners to Christ who is their only hope of salvation and to teach the full truth of God’s Word through which the Spirit works to transform us to be like Christ. But American Christians have the right and responsibility, both from the Word and from the Constitution, to be active and vocal in the political arena. I am not advocating that Christians abandon the political arena.
  • I am NOT saying that we should compromise our convictions in any way. We must remain faithful to what the Bible says about gender, about sexuality, about the sanctity of life and other issues, regardless of its unpopularity in this culture. We must resist that nauseating habit that the church has had through the years of molding our convictions to the current social climate. What is right is right even if the whole world says it is wrong and what is wrong is wrong even if the entire country says it is right. Truth is not a candidate seeking our support.

If someone accuses me of saying these things, I will close my eyes and think of you while reciting that old Methodist Hymn:

May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.
May an elephant caress you with his toes.
May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose.
May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.

You have been warned!!

Now, let me state my thesis as clearly as I can.

I think that it is time for Bible-believing Christians to begin singing a new tune in our cultural engagement. 

For most of my life, we (Conservative Christians) have been singing the same song from the Culture War hymnal: “We must work to restore America to the place it once was!” I sang that song loudly and unapologetically. But I think it is time for us to sing from a different songbook. America has rejected righteousness and embraced immorality and perversion. We are losing the culture war in a way that seems to me almost irreversible, short of a Third Great Awakening on a scale beyond anything Jonathan Edwards ever imagined. No amount of political activity is going to undo the losses.

Perhaps we need to sing a different tune, the one sung by the early church in its relationship with Jewish religious leaders and the Roman Empire. They did not expect the government to reflect their values or support their work. Their hope was simply that the government would allow them to do their gospel work without hindrance, without persecution. They wanted to “obey God rather than men” and declare that Jesus Christ (not Caesar) is Lord.

Look at Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Paul first urges that prayers be offered for everyone, then narrows the focus to governmental authorities. The prayer focus he advocates is simple. Pray that the king and those in power will allow Christians to lead peaceful and quiet lives – living as Christians without persecution and government interference. The church can then be about its evangelistic purpose, which is the heart of God.

Christianity was born and thrived in a culture and political system that was hostile to its existence. The early church wanted only that the government leave them alone to do their eternal work without hindrance. They did not expect the government to support their values or agree with their convictions, but simply wanted the freedom to live counter-culturally without persecution or interference.

American Christians have much different expectations. We have gotten used to living in a culture and under a political system that (on the surface, at least) shared many of our values. It shocks us when laws are adopted that flaunt biblical truths, because we expect that the laws of God should inform the laws of this land. And in our public engagement, we have operated from that assumption. As the self-designated “moral majority” in America, we threw our weight around trying to elect candidates who shared our values and get laws passed with reflected our beliefs.

But things have changed, drastically. Christians have debated whether and to what extent America was founded as a Christian nation. That debate has been rendered irrelevant by our culture’s blatant rejection of biblical values. Our nation has abandoned any sense of responsibility to the Creator and his laws.

In such a culture, it makes sense that we would change our tune in terms of our social engagement. It makes both biblical and practical sense that we would focus on protecting our freedoms to believe and proclaim increasingly unpopular minority opinions. We need to focus on protecting our rights of free speech and religious freedom. It is issues such as this that should drive our political endeavors.

There is little indication from history that secularists or liberals will protect our rights of free speech. They have consistently demonstrated intolerance toward those who diverge from liberal orthodoxy. If this tide continues to come in, and I believe it will, secularist progressives will become an increasing majority and we will have to face living in a land that hates what we love and scorns what we believe.

We need to stop living in the past and start preparing for the future by focusing our political efforts on establishing and maintaining free speech and religious freedom while we still have significant clout.


I believe two truths are evident:

1) We have pretty much lost the “culture war” for the minds and hearts of Americans.

2) When secularism takes hold, it is consistently hostile to and repressive against biblically-derived convictions.


3) We need focus on protecting our freedom to live out our convictions in a world that is and will continue to become more hostile toward our views. Our political weight needs to be put into protecting religious liberty while we still have the clout to do so.

It is going to be quite an adjustment for us to accept our status as a viewpoint minority in our land. But that is what we are now. Nominal Christianity may still be a majority, but blood-bought believers who honor the authority of God’s Word and seek God’s glory in all things are a small minority.

I know that I am a pessimist and some of you may disagree with my belief that the culture war is lost. I’m reading tea leaves and there is always room for interpretation on issues like this. But I am convinced we are moving inexorably to a less Christian-friendly America and we need to prepare for what lies ahead. Our focus needs to be on protecting the right of the minority (which biblical Christians are quickly becoming) to live by their convictions and proclaim them even when they are counter-cultural.

If we continue to fight the fight of the 70s and 80s, trying to “restore America” we will not be ready for the new reality that seems to be headed our way.

Perhaps it’s time that we learn a new song to sing – one in a minor key.




  1. Rick Patrick says

    “We have pretty well lost the culture war.” (Dave Miller)

    “In war, there is no substitute for victory.” (Douglas MacArthur)

    I believe we are losing the culture war precisely because we have stopped fighting it, replacing the clear statement of Christian convictions with a policy of cultural accommodationism that is absolutely destined to fail.

    We must speak out more, not less. We must confront our culture more, not less. We must never accept defeat. If necessary, we must die, but we must not settle or compromise or give up or accept the moral and cultural decay.

    Blessings to Dave Miller in the New Year! Forgive me for disagreeing with you right off the bat, but this sure sounds defeatist to me. Even if we are ultimately defeated, I would rather go down swinging.

    • says


      However, we should be confronting our culture at the local level in our towns and schools as believers who are concerned for the well being and salvation of others. We can’t do this with laws and think that it will make changes. The Christian heritage of this country is due to the higher percentage of believers in past eras. We can revive our nation through preaching and prayers for salvations.

      When we turn to politics for the sake of morality, then we become pawns of the politicians and fodder for the liberal news organizations.

    • Dave Miller says

      Who had stopped fighting the culture war? Christians have been up to their necks in it.

      While we have been fighting the culture war, America has sided against us and has rejected what we stand for.

      I do not think our problem is that we have not been fighting. I think we have been fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons.

      • Rick Patrick says

        We have stopped fighting it strongly, in my opinion, over the past five to ten years. The whole world used to boycott the Southern Baptist Convention, because we were unafraid to be politically incorrect. We spoke boldly to our culture. They did not agree with us, but they could not ignore us. Today, we are much more accommodating. They ignore us.

        If indeed “America has… rejected what we stand for” that doesn’t mean we should stop standing for it. If anything, we should shout it louder.

      • Robert I masters says

        Yet it be known that Robert I Masters ,from the Southern Baptist Geneva,
        agrees 100 percent with Rick Patrick.

        The reason he is right is that we have failed to obey the Biblical command to redeem the culture.
        Gen 1:28

        This defition from Cornerstone Pres is good summation of the cultural mandate.
        “The Cultural Mandate is the church’s directive to affect every area of life for King Jesus. Man’s original stewardship of the earth developed beyond his humble agrarian beginnings to use all the earth’s resources as a means to advance worldwide civilizations. Consequently, the work of the Cultural Mandate is an all-inclusive concept that extends to every sphere of life where man’s mind and hands are employed to control and utilize the processes of nature for the good of all. The Church must see in this command its role in shaping every area of life according to God’s will – including politics, the fine arts, science, law, medical ethics, and more.

        Some Pastors in America have failed to obey this command that has never been rescinded Anywhere in Scripture.

        Some of these pastors even boast of their disobedience….May God help them!

      • Christiane says

        DAVID, you could write a whole post about your comment, this:
        “I do not think our problem is that we have not been fighting. I think we have been fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons.”

        I hope you expand your thoughts on it.

  2. Zack Stepp says

    “Christians have debated whether and to what extent America was founded as a Christian nation. That debate has been rendered irrelevant by our culture’s blatant rejection of biblical values.”

    Good word, Dave.

  3. says

    Dave –
    A very timely blog and I applaud you for being willing to alter your stripes. However, to your 3rd summary point, this has to be done in a holistic manner in reference to religious freedom: we can’t become the Moral Majority 2.0.

    I believe that the MM was probably the single greatest threat to effective evangelism on a national scale: America became the gospel and politics was the means. Christians have no business and no example of forming political blocs for the purpose of affecting the government. That is quite different from being a Christian who is involved in politics or a political action committee or whatever. We CANNOT change society through politics. Only Jesus can change our nation, and that by one salvation at a time.

    It is quite hypocritical that evangelicals/MM types decry the Roman Catholic/Roman Empire unification under Constantine, but are willing to try to do the same thing at the voting booth; as though a democratic process to moralize the government is more acceptable than an imperial process.

    If we act with our conscious in regards to politics, we must uphold (through voting or running for office) what we find to be true in scripture and let that be enough; even if it means there are many one term Christians representatives. But we can’t try to make the government to be Christian.

    We must make every effort to ensure freedom for every religion and make it known that we would plead for others to agree with our beliefs, but we will not force them on anyone. I know this sounds kind of liberal or weak, but to put it another way: we need to let the Gospel be the threat, not the evangelist.

  4. Christiane says

    “Perhaps we need to sing a different tune, the one sung by the early church in its relationship with Jewish religious leaders and the Roman Empire. They did not expect the government to reflect their values or support their work. Their hope was simply that the government would allow them to do their gospel work without hindrance, without persecution. They wanted to “obey God rather than men” and declare that Jesus Christ (not Caesar) is Lord.”

    there is much wisdom in this observation of yours, DAVID . . .
    as it has always been taught in the Church, from time immemorial, this:

    “Like Christ Himself, the Apostles were unceasingly bent upon bearing witness to the truth of God, and they showed the fullest measure of boldness in “speaking the word with confidence” (Acts 4:31) before the people and their rulers.
    With a firm faith they held that the Gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
    Therefore they REJECTED all “carnal weapons:
    they followed the example of the gentleness and respectfulness of Christ and they preached the Word of God IN THE FULL CONFIDENCE that there was resident in this Word itself a divine power able to destroy all the forces arrayed against God and bring men to faith in Christ and to His service.” (from ‘Dignitatus Humanae’)

  5. says

    Maybe ours never was a culture war. Didn’t somebody incredibly wise say that our kingdom wasn’t of this world? Why would we want to try to fight a culture war if that was the case.

    I heard a long time ago that “If you would win some, be winsome”. What part of that suggests a war? The issue is worshiping and serving our God, being a friend to people who are blind and being led astray to dumb idols just as we were, once (1 Corinthians seems to indicate that, to me at least), and then telling them the reason for the hope that is within us.

    Winning the culture war is apt to leave us with a society full of imitaters who are bound for hell, and a church full of proud people for having “accomplished” that.

    No thanks.

  6. says

    Part of my sermon on Sunday dealt with how we treat other people as Christians and letting our good works shine to serve others and promote the Gospel… I used the workplace and politics as examples. With politics I started out by saying, “I know I’m going to step on some toes, but I tell ya–as your pastor, I hate Fox News. Mainly because you get people on there who tell us we need to get God back in America, and then they yell, get red-faced, and make derogatory comments towards people they disagree with. That is not an example of Christian virtue.”

    While I agree we need to pray and work for the sake of being able to live such “peaceful and quiet” lives, I think part of what we do also needs to be found in 1 Peter 2:11-17…

    A lot of the wear and tear against our “religious freedoms” comes in the form of people complaining about (especially conservative) religions preaching hate and showing intolerance. Of course, we argue back that true Christianity doesn’t preach hate and that being tolerant doesn’t mean we have to accept or agree with every belief/moral system out there.

    The churches to which Peter wrote had many false accusations tossed their way, and Peter answered, essentially, “Let your deeds prove them wrong.” And where does he say to start? Submit, show respect to everyone, and honor the king. “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

    I told my church one time that one of the phrases that should never come out of a Christian’s mouth is, “If you want my respect you have to earn it.” Our war is not against “flesh and blood”–we shouldn’t even talk as if we’re in a “culture war.” Instead, if we want to fight, it should be with the weapons of kindness, respect, and grace as we live and speak the Gospel.

  7. Tommy Rucker says

    I ‘ve been having similar thoughts since my own recent run-in with the culture. Of this I am certain — legislating morality is incapable of bringing transformation in the human heart. Only the gospel can accomplish the kind of change we need. Therefore, I am in full agreement with you here.

  8. cb scott says

    Dave Miller stated:

    “It is going to be quite an adjustment for us to accept our status as a viewpoint minority in our land. . . , but blood-bought believers who honor the authority of God’s Word and seek God’s glory in all things are a small minority.”

    According to at least one prominent researcher:

    Only 4% of the male population of this earth live according tot he principles of a biblical worldview.

    It seems that both men have valid reasons for their conclusions.

    Rick Patrick stated:

    “We must speak out more, not less. We must confront our culture more, not less. We must never accept defeat. If necessary, we must die . . . Even if we are ultimately defeated, I would rather go down swinging.”

    Greg Buchanan stated:

    “. . . we should be confronting our culture at the local level in our towns and schools as believers who are concerned for the well being and salvation of others. We can’t do this with laws and think that it will make changes. The Christian heritage of this country is due to the higher percentage of believers in past eras. We can revive our nation through preaching and prayers for salvations.”

    I think both Rick and Greg are right. I think America’s greatest need is for Christians to take up the cross, die to self, follow Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission by living Holy, God honoring, uncompromisingly governed by a biblical worldview, and openly proclaiming the Good Story of Jesus Christ, calling on men, women, girls and boys, to repent of sin and believe the biblical gospel.

    • Randall Cofield says

      cb scott,

      I think America’s greatest need is for Christians to take up the cross, die to self, follow Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission by living Holy, God honoring (lives), uncompromisingly governed by a biblical worldview, and openly proclaiming the Good Story of Jesus Christ, calling on men, women, girls and boys, to repent of sin and believe the biblical gospel.

      Yet another point upon which we agree absolutely….

        • Randall Cofield says

          I’ve noticed it’s usually associated with the vacillating perspicuity of your posts…

          Just turned on the Florida/Louisville game. What the heck??!! Did Al Mohler have anything to do with this….?

          • cb scott says

            LOL. Randall Cofield,

            I don’t know if the Prez of SBTS had anything to do with it or not. I do think that maybe some of Jared Moore’s Wizards and Warlocks from Harry Potter must have suited up in CARDINAL uniforms tonight.

            I think the NCAA should check all of the LOUISVILLE squad for magical powers.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Just wonderin’ if the good Dr’s vast conspiratorial prowess has now extended to the BCS…

          • cb scott says

            For sure not the big one that counts — the BCS National Championship.

            No Pope in Rome or Louisville will stop the CRIMSON TIDE from taking the Monk School in South Bend and their little Irish Munchkins apart and taking all their gold from their pot at the end of the Irish Rainbow and melting it into a golden Number 15.

            We are the SABANATION! We are the SEC!! We are FOOTBALL!!!

            ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

  9. Jess Alford says


    You said, “I know I am a pessimist”, I too am a pessimist.

    What scares me is that history has a way of repeating itself, and it eventually will. None of us can predict that there will not be another
    world war, or a depression like what took place in the 1930’s.

    It seems to me that everytime something devastating takes place in this country, people begin running to God. I hope God doesn’t allow anything
    horrible to come upon us such as war or hunger to bring us back to him again. I want to say it’s certainly possible.

    We have had it too good for so long that we just don’t expect anything else but good to come upon us. We had better watch out, history does repeat itself.

    • cb scott says

      Jess Alford,

      I understand your sentiment, but please realize, we are already at war and many people in this country already go to bed hungry, especially children.

          • says

            Then you aren’t out among the poor. Come to Oklahoma City and I will introduce you to some of them. The lack of good, nutritious food available for children in this country is staggering.

          • cb scott says

            I am near to the conclusion that posts like this, although this one is very good, do little good. Such posts seem to bring out strange comments. Maybe I have just lived too long, traveled too much and witnessed too many things. Or maybe I live on a different planet than people who frequent Baptist blogs and I am just too stupid to realize it. Beats me.

            And I guess I am stupid. Otherwise, why do I ever seriously engage in these comment threads? I should just stick to the make believe world of the football universe. But like I stated. I am stupid, so I engage anyway, knowing full well my engagement is no more than an exercise in futility.


            All I can say to you is, Then you have not seen America. There are many children in this nation who go to bed hungry every night. I went to bed many nights hungry, dirty, and cold when I was a little kid.

            My wife and I took in four children after Katrina who had gone to bed many nights hungry, wearing rags, smelling like rank goats and an ashtray.

            When my wife and I lived in the mountains where Jess Alford lives, we fed many hungry kids, took them in, and gave them what help we could.

            Don’t tell me there are no hungry children in this country who will go to bed tonight hungrier than when they woke up this morning. There are many of them. You just haven’t looked very intently. Of course, life and ministry is not as messy when one does not look. Maybe that is the case here.

          • Dean says

            CB, Following Katrina, there were people who lost everything. However not one child starved. I live in South Mississippi and know first hand of her devastation. My father was a hillbilly from the Appalachian chain in West Virginia. I know all about mountain folk cause all my family are mountain people. Not one has starved. Now you seem to insinuate I don’t look around. I do and we minister to to needy people everyday. CB, you are guilty of dramatizing the hunger in America. Maybe it makes you feel significant. No one is starving regardless of how you slice it. I simply have points of references from other places in the world where I have been. The poorest in America would be considered wealthy in most of the world.

          • cb scott says


            I have no need to feel significant. You are blind. Children go to bed in this country hungry. Many will do so tonight.

            Oh yeah, there will be elderly people who go to bed hungry tonight also. They live in this country also.

            Oh, and BTW, I doubt seriously you have been to more places on this globe than I. Hungry is hungry. I matters not if it is in Kenya, the PI, Nigeria, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, or Pennsylvania.

      • Dean says

        CB, you have called me blind and also said I don’t look around so life is easier and not messy and that you have been to more places than me. Hey when you get through carving your face out on the Mt Rushmore of greatest Christians ever pray that I may be as good as you.

        • cb scott says


          Like I stated before, to engage guys like you is an exercise in futility.

          I did not state, nor do I think I am a great Christian. I wish I was, but I know better. To state otherwise, would make me a hypocrite.

          However, I do know what I know and I know there are kids in this country who will go to bed tonight hungry.

          I don’t care if your father lived in the mountains. Did you? I don’t care if you live in South Mississippi. Your living there does not negate the fact that children living there will go to bed hungry tonight.

          There are poor people in this country tonight. When I was a little kid, I was among them. That ceased when I was 13. I have never gone to bed hungry since that time, but I know there are many, many more who will and they will tonight.

          Yes, I stated that you are blind. Obviously, that is by choice. You do not have to stay blind. You do not have to stay ignorant of the realities that even in the richest nation on earth, there will be children who go to bed hungry tonight.

          Oh yeah, if you can get that Mt. Rushmore thing done, please put be beside Teddy Roosevelt. He is one of my favorite American leaders of all time.

          • cb scott says


            Something I just stated was somewhat a lie. I stated that I have never gone to bed hungry since I was 13. I need to modify that some. I have never spent a night hungry since I was 13 unless it was by willful intent. There were times in some places I did go without food, bath, changing clothes, etc., and was either very hot or very cold for a while, until I was finished with my assignments. Yet, when I got back home, there was always plenty to eat.

            I have been a most fortunate person in many ways. Why? Beats me. But, I know what I know and there are kids who are like I was who will go to bed hungry tonight in this country.

          • Dean says

            CB, Dang it CB! Teddy is one of my favorite presidents. I may have to disown him now. CB I know we have poor and hungry. Thank you for your efgorts.

        • Jess Alford says


          Here is something for you to google. According to the USDA 16.7 million children under the age of 18 yrs. cannot consistntly access
          enough nutritious food to have a healthy life.

          • Dean says

            CB, I have conceded people are hungry in America. I continue to say they are not starving. Now one of the very first comments I made I gave that same number. Once again the key is nutritious food. You may have a case of HoHo’s to eat but that is not nutritional food in eyes of USDA. The poor in America have TV sets, cell phones, homes and automobiles. You research how many children participating in free lunch programs participate in free summer eating programs. Very few do. Its just not convenient. Our poor call on a phone for help or drive to a center. That is not the poor in places like El Salvador where mountain people have nothing. Really nothing! They walk miles for any aid that is given and carry home some sustance on their backs.

          • cb scott says


            I never once used the words starving to death, although the continual hunger of many does cause and disease and death does come from other causes not attributed to starvation. Being hungry hurts. It hurts bad and many children are in pain from hunger tonight, living in this country, the richest in the world.

            Dean, not all hungry children have cell phones and televisions and not all of them participate in a free lunch program. Many of them never attend school where the free lunch is found.

            BTW, there is little you can tell me about El Salvador. Some noble and hard men from this country went to hell from there trying to help the folks of which you speak.

            Dean, I really should not have engaged this thread. I really didn’t set out to offend you, but I know I did and I can’t truthfully apologize for it because I know what I know.
            I also know Jess Alford has seen some of the same thing. Jess Alford and I do not agree often, especially about politics and soteriology, but his eyes have seen some hard and heartbreaking things in the coal fields of Kentucky. That truth bleeds from almost everything he writes on this blog.

          • dean says

            CB, You say, “BTW, there is little you can tell me about El Salvador.” I am convinced you can leave the about El Salvador off. Once again, you claim to know something that I don’t and then tell me that I’m offended by your comments. Who ever you are you have no clue who I am and if you did you would understand that you have no power to offend me at all. It is foolish to debate with a fellow who believes it is as bad in America as it is in the rest of the world. Have a good night CB

          • cb scott says


            Your efforts at one-ups-manship are futile here. You twist words and statements. That is simply dishonest.

            I never stated that America was the same as other places. I stated there are children in this country who will go to bed hungry. There are. I also stated that American is the richest nation in the world.

            I stated hungry is hungry no matter where one lives. That is true.

            I don’t need or desire “power over you” — whatever that means in this context.

            And the bottom line: I hate to break it to you, Dean, but there are people in this world who know things you simply do not know, have seen things you have not seen, have experienced things you have not experienced, and been places that you have not and in all probability (hopefully) never will go. I am sorry that is such a shock to you.

            And I know, as do many others, there are children who go to bed hungry in this nation.

            So quit talking about cell phones and televisions and political talking points, open your eyes and heart and look around. You will find them. When you do, help them. Then come back here and tell me again that hungry children are not in this country.

    • dean says

      Ryan, I do not want this to become something Dave did not intend it to be. I realize there is a lack of food nutrition in America. 16.7 million homes are said to have a lack of food nutrition. However, there are no children starving to death. Maybe because they are eating frozen chicken nuggets and popsicles for supper they are more susceptible to disease than others but there is no data on children starving to death in America like there was in the days of the depression. I am grateful for your challenge to me to work among the poor. I pastor in the poorest county in the poorest state in the union. Our median income is $16,100. Everyday I deal with the poorest in America. Here is what I know – they all have television and cell phones and automobiles. I am grateful they do. But don’t compare hunger in America to hunger in Kenya where they drink water from holes dug in the ground with sticks and go DAYS WITHOUT EATING A BITE!

  10. dean says

    I think that a great deal of our preaching in America today in this arena has missed the mark. We have gotten comfortable in saying Obama is the Antichrist, Clinton is the devil and Hillary is the beast. Maybe we would do better by saying Jesus is the King. Many preachers see themselves similarly to Elijah. They are ready to chasten the king. We have been called to preach the message of the Holy Bible to the nations not anoint the next king. We are not relevant to today because the Gospel is what makes us relevant and many have forsaken it to be trendy or have a voice that is heard. When we preach the Word verse by verse to win the lost and edify the church it is amazing how that impacts the culture around us. Dave, years ago I gave up preaching many sermons on the condition of America. The reason is the invitation was so odd. My congregations running between 200 and 450 were the best people America has to offer. The invitations were so weak. We all agreed, we all prayed for our nation and we all went and ate fried chicken. I could diagnose the problem but didn’t know the solution. No genius in that!

    • Dave Miller says

      I think that sometimes our “this nation is going to h-e-double hockey sticks in a handbasket” sermons were unproductive – preaching to the choir.

      • Dave Miller says

        Let me elaborate a bit.

        I can stand up on Sunday morning and rail against the homosexuals and the liberals and those who live together outside of marriage and “Hellywood” and such things.

        People will say, “Wow, preacher, that was courageous.”

        Really? Preaching against OPS (other people’s sins) at my church is not courageous. It is a way for me to garner pats on the back and to be called brave!

        This is not certainly true of all “culture warriors” but I think it is a trap we can fall into sometimes.

        • Frank L. says

          Or. You can stand up, smile, tell everybody God is your Cosmo Vending Machine, sell a few million books and so forth.

          Thousands will pour into your stadium church.

          Dave, I think there is a flaw in your argument. Justice begins in the house of God. The prophets spoke primarily and forcefully to the people of God.

          The culture is at war with God. We must either fight or die.

        • says

          If our culture is at war with God (and I agree that it is), then our tactic ought to be proclaiming the Lordship of Christ, ought it not?

          Passing laws and winning elections are not really the goal, are they?

          I have no idea what your point is about the “Cosmo Vending Machine” – it has little to do with anything I said, or anyone else said for that matter.

          • Frank L. says


            My reference is in regard to what you said about strong preaching, you refer to as “preaching to the choir.” We disagree. I don’t think the problem is the sin in the world, but the sin in the church.

            You seem to imply that “hell in a hand basket” preaching (your term) is passe and ineffective. I believe it is just the opposite. I think we have not preached “hell hot enough” or “heaven high enough.”

            I do agree that winning elections and such is not our “goal,” but it is very much a part of our strategy. If we want to salt society at least part of the salt has to be applied to the “politics” of society.

            Perhaps strong preaching where you are is not “courageous,” but in the West, it can cost you dearly to preach against any sin unless you do so apologetically.

            I think I understand what your underlying premise is, but perhaps I don’t fully understand what your proposal is. You seem to think that a different approach than “hell in a hand basket” (your term) preaching is the answer.

            If I understand you correctly you are speaking against what my preaching professors called a “hot medium” (the old hellfire and brimstone approach). As long as 35 years ago, this approach was assailed in the two Baptist schools I was associated with. They wanted a more “conversational, dialogical approach.”

            Statistically, you can compare the approach of the “Moral Majority” types and the “conversational” types and draw conclusions on which actually had a greater impact on society.

            You and I differ significantly on the relationship of preaching and cultural engagement. I think we do agree that there needs to be a change in the way we fight the war.

          • cb scott says

            Frank stated,
            “. . . I think we have not preached “hell hot enough” or “heaven high enough.”

            I believe this to be a true statement. I am not of the crowd that states, “Baptists have lost the gospel.” I believe Baptists do know the gospel. However, in many pulpits, the biblical gospel is no longer preached.

            Another gospel — A nicer, user friendly, make sure you put money in the plate, and “please don’t fire me because I have let myself get into creature comfort debt and can’t afford to get fired” kind of gospel has replaced the kind that Frank L. is talking about in far too many pulpits across the landscape of SBC life.

            I think God hates it.

            There is nothing wrong with preaching hard against sin. Frankly, we should preach hard against sin. We should preach just as hard against adultery and divorce as we do against living the sodomite lifestyle. All there are putrid in the nostrils of God.

            Yes, we should preach hard against sin, all sin — just as we preach just as hard and just as long about the only cure for sin, the biblical gospel.

          • Frank L. says

            Dave. You are correct. I did extend your comments. I was talking around the issue. I apologize for not being clear. I know you are passionate about proclaiming the gospel.

  11. Randall Cofield says


    Perhaps, as Bob suggests, ours was never intended to be a “culture war.” I think the “Moral Majority” and the “Religious Right” movements duped many into a form of cultural engagement that is never commended in scripture.

    I agree with Dave (and scripture) that we should entreat God that He so move upon our leaders that we could live quiet and peaceful lives. Yet this is an appeal for us to depend upon God for that quiet and peace, not an imperative to active political pursuit of said peace.

    We are commanded to be beacons of God-exalting light and repositories of sin-defeating salt. Such is active in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God, yet passive in relation to the kingdom of darkness. To state it differently, we are to actively glorify God, yet passively leave our light and salt to be observed by others–to the end that they might also give glory to our Father in Heaven.

    When we try to force the world to see our good works (read Moral Majority/Religious Right/Culture War), we have exceeded the command of scripture.

    NOTE TO CB “tough guy” SCOTT: If you accuse me of being a pacifist I will shoot you in the leg with my Hawkins .50 caliber black powder rifle.

    • Pastor Harold says

      That’s what I would have said Randall.

      It’s easy to back a political party with signs and bumper stickers but it’s tough to engage lost teenagers on the street with the gospel. The latter is more in keeping with the command we have been given.

    • says

      I think CB’s right in what he says about taking up the cross and speaking the truth of the gospel and all its ramifications, without ceasing. That’s what guys in the pews ought to be doing every day, and not just out of gratitude, but because I firmly believe that’s the essence of an abundant life.

      Anybody out there think their life is more abundant than was Jesus’?

      I didn’t think so.

  12. Scott Shaffer says


    Thanks for a stimulating post. How do you think your conclusion,

    “We need focus on protecting our freedom to live out our convictions in a world that is and will continue to become more hostile toward our views. Our political weight needs to be put into protecting religious liberty while we still have the clout to do so.

    meshes with what we see in Acts and church history?


  13. says

    There’s a very fine line between cultural war and actual war. The fire that burns for cultural war is capable of escalating to a real war. I’m not suggesting that any of you would take it that far, but only asking you to examine the source and nature of that burning desire. I’ve heard a well-known TV preacher demanding, “We’ve got to rip this country back out of the hands of the perverts, the idolators, the adulterers, the pornographers, the atheists, the murderers and the thieves!” (or something very similar). His rant went on and on. Although he did not prescribe any violent or illegal methods, I could not help but notice that a call to take up arms (clubs, knives, guns or whatever) and go out and forcibly take back this country could have seamlessly been added to his words.

    Viewing culture as something we must fight to win must either lead to violence or despair, since it is not “winable.” Fight with all the nonviolent means possible and you will, due to defeat, be eventually faced with a choice: take up arms or stop fighting the culture war.

    Only those who have benefited from living in a culture that was greatly effected by Christianity could be naive enough to view it as their right to have, or assume that the source of that culture was anything other than the number of believers in that society. Such cultural evidences of Christian influence cannot come about by political means, but only by the redemption of a large enough number of people. The task of the Church is NOT to convert the culture, but to convert men. If we are successful in that, then God may change the culture through the numbers of men converted–but that is God’s task (if He chooses to do it) and not ours.

    As for rights, they make for the best government. However, as believers who have died to self and live in Christ, we neither have nor claim any rights. It would be unbecoming of me as a believer to demand my rights.

    The apostles lived in one of the most wicked cultures ever, without the rights that we enjoy in this country. And yet, not one of their epistles ever spoke of trying to politically influence the government or the culture. When Paul spoke to Agrippa, he had the opportunity to press for freedom of speech and religion, but instead, he preached the gospel.

    For more of my view, see the following:

  14. Frank L. says

    Randall. To say the Moral Majority “duped” people is just an ignorant statement. I thank God that Jerry Falwell endured such unkind criticism from “backseat” Christians.

    I look at his life and the lives of such critics and the evidence speaks for itself.

    How I wish God would raise up an army of Falwells. Apathy and “friendly fire” (an oxymoron) killed the movement.

    • says

      Frank, have you read Blinded by Might by Cal Thomas. It’s pretty eye opening on the abuses and excesses of the Moral Majority. And it’s written by a guy who was up to his neck on the MM. I think duped is the wrong word. I think willingly co-opted and blindly trusting are better words.

      Falwell was not a bad man, but he is not someone I would want an army of. He was too quick to speak and too slow to listen until his very latter days. He did some good for the Kingdom but he did a ton of damage as well- and a lot of the damage he did is what has led to the political mess the church in America finds itself in today.

      • says

        Blinded by Might was formative in my thinking on political issues.

        They make the point that politics is about gaining and maintaining power through whatever means necessary, often involving compromise.

        The church is about proclaiming truth regardless of the response of the hearer.

        Christians can enter the political arena, but there are always inherent risks that we will be co-opted for political gain or lose sight of our true purposes as we seek political success.

        Great book.

  15. Truth unites... And divides says

    The murder for hire on unborn babies and same-sex marriage is part of the war on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  16. Jess Alford says

    What Moral Majority? I know of a Moral Minority.

    Dave mentioned earlier that preaching against sin will get us pats on the back which is certainly true, but I think he has something else in mind.
    There is a disconnection between the church walls and the walls of
    Washington, DC. The hallway that connected the two has long since been decayed and crumbled away.

    All the pats on the back will not rebuild that hallway. It takes a hammer and three old rusty nails. With these, my friends, we can do some serious repairing.

    • cb scott says

      “All the pats on the back will not rebuild that hallway. It takes a hammer and three old rusty nails. With these, my friends, we can do some serious repairing.”

      Absolutely excellent Hillbilly logic. No truer statement has been made in this thread. (Other than Frank L.’s about Jerry Falwell.

      The only thing wrong with Jerry was he let his wife spoil those two sissy boys of his. Of course, that has been the case with a lot of guys who had true grit, they spoiled and sissified their sons and let their daughters go wild. Satan is never at rest in his pursuit of the destruction of godly men.

      • cb scott says

        You might ought to spend a little more time on that concept there, Ken Hamrick. Government and culture both are populated by people – sinful people. The gospel is the only hope of change for both culture and government. We are the government. We are the culture. Our problem is that we do not live incarnationally therein.

        • says

          The culture and the people (generally speaking) are the world. We are not of the world. Christ told us that the world will hate us. He did not say that the world will hate us until we win the cultural war or gain enough politicial power.

          • cb scott says

            Ken Hamrick,

            Christians are part of the culture. Jesus spoke to this reality as did Paul.

            We are never going to win the culture war. History has proven that there will be no Christian utopia on earth in its present form. However, (and I think this is what Jess Alford meant and I know it is what I meant.) we must continue to fight the fight. We must be militant with the gospel and the results of the gospel, a holy life lived by all who embrace it.

            Does that make sense to you?

          • Jess Alford says

            Ken Hamrick,

            If we win the people to Christ we have won the government
            also. cb scott is 100% correct, and I don’t even like to agree with a flat lander.

          • says

            The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, because the war is not a carnal war but a spiritual one. The ballot box, petition, letters to congress, boycotts, etc., are carnal means. The culture does improve as the percentage of Christians rises; but changing the culture should not be our focus. Otherwise, it is too easy to get frustrated and try to use methods other than evangelism to try to change the culture. Being “militant with the gospel,” as you say, does make sense; but being militant with outward Christian moral standards, or in “protecting our rights,” or in gaining political power through numbers willing to vote our way, does not make Biblical sense. So I guess it all comes down to what you mean by fighting the fight.

          • Dave Miller says

            Bingo, Ken.

            We’ve been trying to fight a spiritual battle with carnal weapons. We have failed, and we scratch our heads and wonder why.

          • cb scott says

            Ken Hamrick,

            I mean “fight the fight” by the same definitive nature as did Paul the Apostle born out of due season who stated he “had fought the good fight.”

            The word “militant” does not always mean the “Chicago Seven” or the “Symbionese Liberation Army.” I think from reading your comments, you know the history of those particular militants.

            Militant Christianity is that of which Christ called for when He stated, those who followed Him had to take up the cross, die to self, follow Him, fulfill the Great Commission, even to the death if necessary.

          • cb scott says

            Ken Hamrick,

            This is my last comment for a while. The SUGAR BOWL awaits me.

            You are probably right. We might well agree here after all. Let me illustrate such a possibility.

            I believe abortion is murder, plain and simple. I have worked hard in anti-abortion efforts and education. However, I have never stood in front of an abortion clinic and held signs or grabbed girls and women by the arm and called them names. I think that is wrong. Frankly, I think it is abusive. Maybe I would grab the man who used many of those women and girls (not all but some) for his own pleasure and then left them on their own. But, that is entirely another subject — somewhat.

            Does that make sense to you?

  17. says


    I know we have disagreed some in the past and I know that you have chastised me a couple of times for coming on too strong, or too personal, and you’ve probably been right every time. I want you to know that I read this post this morning and rejoiced because what you wrote is pretty much exact;y what I have thought and tried to practice over the last 10 years.

    I once followed the Moral Majority/Limbaugh/Republican or else crowd as well. I thought politics was the solution to the ills of our country and I’ve preached the sermons about “taking back America” and “returning to our Christian roots.” I’ve watched the David Barton videos and talked about how most of the Founders were Christians. Then about 14 years ago I began reading outside the bubble of that little world and all of that “logic” begin to fall apart. Worse, I started reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament prophets and the Gospels, and started to find all these inconsistencies between what I had said/preached/believed and what was actually in the Bible. I did not find “culture war” or “PACs” or “voting guides.” I found a Church that worked for change not through politics but through individual life changes brought on by the Gospel. We could not legislate morality because morality didn’t save anyone and it led to a nation of Pharisees and lost sheep who went to church but were not the church.

    So now after all these years, I’m pretty sad and sometimes more than a little angry and disillusioned at what I see the church in America, especially the Bible Belt has become. I pastor in a community where 3 different churches regularly participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday where they endorse candidates from the pulpit and then send copies of those sermons to the IRS. I pastor in an area where the SBC people are known only for what they are against and where the number of families who home school to protect their children from “evil influences of public education” are skyrocketing. Everything about faith in my community is politicized and it has created so many barriers for the Gospel to cross that it makes me crazy.

    So today, I pastor a church made up of Republicans and Democrats, liberal and conservatives, the poor and the middle class, and people from multiple denominational backgrounds. I preach about sin and hell and the hope of the Gospel every Sunday. We’re not soft on sin. We have actually put people under discipline. We have people who have struggled with homosexuality, alcohol, drugs, adultery, debt, and all kinds of other sins. We minister to a lot of people who have left the church because of politics and others who have left churches because they got tired of hearing about the Founding Fathers every Sunday and never hearing about the Heavenly Father. In short, we don’t preach politics. We preach Jesus and let people sort out their politics in light of the Gospel.

    So Dave, I just want to say thanks for being so candid about your own journey. I join you as a fellow traveler and I want you to know you are not alone. You don’t have to stop talking about sin as some have suggested (and I don’t think you would! :) )You just stop talking about sin as if the right politicians or laws are the answer. Only one thing can stop abortions, gay marriage, drug and alcohol addiction, pornography, slavery, abuse, neglect, poverty and war. It’s not an election. It’s Jesus and when we stop worrying about politics we have a lot more time and energy to talk about Him.

    Godspeed brother.

    • Joe Blackmon says

      Dave Miller,

      I know you’re not saying that we should be soft on sin and that we should give up proclaiming what the Bible clearly says about all sin. I know also that you’re not saying that we shouldn’t be involved in politics. I totally agree that we are now decidedly the minority and that mainstream America has roundly rejected our beliefs and ideals not to mention God’s word. I’d go further and say we’ve lost the culture war, not that we were ever going to win it.

      But I find it shameful to read people in this comment stream imply that it’s ok to hold to liberal political positions or vote for liberal politicians. Anyone can take a look at any political question or position and ask “What does the Bible reveal about this?” (i.e. What does God think about it) On each and every item the Democrat position is the exact opposite of what God says or it’s something that God’s word doesn’t speak to (economic policy, for instance). There are a few times when the Rupublican position lines up with what God says (abortion and gay “rights”). Heck, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      So, the clear choice for a Christian is “Do I side with a party that takes the opposite stance to what God says on each and every thing that God says? Do I really want all those innocent babies who will die on my conscience?” That’s a no brainer.

  18. Dave Miller says

    I would summarize my viewpoint with this thought:

    We often act as if we are a silent majority in America. If we just work hard, “fight the fight” and get out the vote, we will win the battles in the culture war. That was once true, I do not believe that it is now. We (Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christians) are a minority and increasingly so. We have to learn to live as a social minority.

  19. says

    Sure, I agree.

    Southern Baptist pastors are such a mess on the matter of faith and politics but we came by that honestly and with some degree of good intentions, voting for non-Christian candidates in the last two elections and naively holding to misplaced faith that America once was or can be a Christian nation.

    In the last two occasions that I worshipped where there was a patriotic theme I was treated in one church to the literal subordination of the cross of Christ to the American flag and in another church to a boilerplate “take back America” pseudo-sermon lacking much Bible but replete with vein-popping, red-faced indignation at the latest alleged assault on Christian America by the godless secularists. What are these people thinking?

    “In Christ there is redemption…”

    You didn’t raise the question but I will: Can our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission recover from their partisan forays of the last decade or two (concluding this year with short-timer Richard Land’s ‘personal’ endorsement of Mitt Romney) and actually be coherent and effective in the religious liberty part of their name? If a Southern Baptist like you or me has an interest in and concern about the first amendment, religious liberty, the place to go is the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Affairs. Whatever else they may do that we are not pleased about, they have offered a consistent and coherent stance on civil religion and religious liberty. What we get from the ERLC is about the same as we might get from talk radio…

  20. says

    Thanks for the article. Over approximately the last 15 years I have grown more convinced that our battle plan the culture war is flawed and unwinnable. We have been trying to force the broader culture to adopt a lifestyle and culture that mirrors Christian discipline while they are lost and do not have the aid and power of the Holy Spirit. Even so there is a dilemma for me because I am compelled to vote against abortion and against those who boldly push forward and ungodly lifestyle. But the unfortunate consequence of that is I was willing to vote for individuals who were perhaps bad choices for political office as long as they paid lip service to my stance on abortion or gay marriage.

    I agree with you that we have lost the culture war and need to reconsider our strategy. I believe “Faithful Presence” as we live peaceful, godly lives among the lost and being ready and eager to share the reason for hope in the Gospel.

    To borrow a phrase that the kids use, “Sinners gonna sin”. Making them conform to a Christian cultural lifestyle does not save them and might mask their sin by narrowing the cultural difference between the lost of the saved.

    My view from the pew

    Ed B

  21. says

    I think you are right about the direction we need to go, but I don’t think we ever truly had a dominant Christian culture in the US.

    At best we had cultural Christianity for a time. Most of what we have been fighting for is to return to the good old days where most everyone was inclined to be nominal Christians on Sunday morning. What we are afraid of is the hard times that will force us to actually depend on God for something (either that or take our survival into our hands through some sort of politically rebellious subculture, which has happened before).

    • Christiane says

      There remains a powerful Judeo-Christian ethic in our country which has not been extinguished. It is not often recognized because it is so much taken for granted, but it can be seen most definitely during times of tragedy and destruction, when the hearts of our countrymen are moved to come to the aid of their fellow Americans.

      Sometimes what is celebrated is ‘you are on your own’, and an independent spirit has always been a part of our country;
      but when we see disaster come, we don’t stand at a distance and watch the suffering of others without response.

      The day we become the kind of country where people who can help stand by and watch great destruction and suffering occur without responding,
      then you know the forces of darkness are ‘winning’.

      We have seen signs of abandoning our citizens in trouble, yes. But these have been isolated incidents, sometimes politically motivated.
      But we know that our country DOES on the whole respond as a country to terrible tragedies, with compassion, and with strength, and generosity, as befits the character of a people formed by Judeo-Christian values.


  22. AlVz says

    Dave Miller-
    The Gospel is Jesus the Messiah. His coming to the world and the Joy of the cross. The Cross is the most over looked thing in the Body of Messiah today!!!

    The Church has walked away for the simple sharing of the Gosple. We are called to that simple call. Telling the World that He is REAL that HE LOVES them and died on a cross for them.

    By the church going after the political gosple we have turned our backs on the Lord Jesus Himself. The political thing is not part of the Bible….It is just not.

    Jesus tells the Church to come BACK TO ME. Return to your first love.
    TO the world HE says COME to me. Take my Yoke and follow me.

  23. Adam G. in NC says

    Viewing Christianity as “culture” is one of the main reasons we are where we are right now. American Civil Religion. We claim to be not of this world but we tolerate it invading our homes, generation by generation. Slow and creeping. And how have we been fighting this conflict? How are we keeping ourselved “unstained”? Are we?

    When they were proclaimed to be nothing more than the atheists of their day, how did the first Christians protest? Could it be passively with their lives?