One of the most important questions that can be asked is, “What is truth?” As Christians, we believe that God’s Word is truth. Thus, if God’s Word says something like, “Do not steal,” then we know that the truth is that we shouldn’t steal. No questions asked. We also know (or should know) that if science suggests a truth contradictory to Scripture, that we should trust in Scripture over science. This is because God dictates scientific truth, not the other way around. This has proven to be beneficial, since God’s Word declared scientific truths before science did, such as that the world is round (Is 40:22) and that life is in the blood (Lev 17:11), although the dominating scientific thought was once that the earth is flat and that draining a man’s blood might cure him of illness.
With all of this said, theology, like fashion trends, tends to experience fads, which is something that I will never understand. With each passing generation comes a new theological trend, and sometimes it’s something that was once popular, became unpopular, and then gained popularity again. So, even though a theological bellbottom might have come and gone, chances are that it will eventually come back. And chances are that we might look back in twenty years and laugh at one another’s theological photographs.
I share this for one reason, which is that I find it interesting that truth experiences faddish trends, because it shouldn’t. This is because truth is truth, and it should never change. Thus, if God’s Word says, “Don’t steal,” this should always remain true. It shouldn’t be that stealing becomes popular in the 80’s, unpopular in the 90’s and 00’s, and then popular again in the 10’s. God’s truth isn’t a mullet, but we often treat it that way.
With all of this said, here are a few things I see trending in the years to come, mainly because we have a hard time settling on truth:
1. ALCOHOL WILL BE ABSOLUTELY ACCEPTABLE
One of the most vitriolic topics in the SBC today is that of alcohol. I’ll never forget the moment I realized how much of an issue it is. It was in 2009 at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Lubbock, Texas, during the Resolutions segment of the meeting. A Resolution was presented “On the Sufficiency of Scripture for the People of God and All Creation.” When the microphones were made available, Paul Pressler approached one and suggested that this line be included:
RESOLVED, that we recognize that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is something that is intrinsically wrong; and be it further
A young man spoke against Pressler’s suggestion, but received little to no support from the messengers, and the edit, as observed above, passed.
The question about whether or not it is okay for a Christian to drink alcohol is one that remains controversial, but the fact is that more and more young pastors argue in favor of it, and the trajectory suggests that, in 50 years, it might not even be a question.
2. MARIJUANA WILL BE THE NEW ALCOHOL
In 2012 Washington became the first state to legalize marijuana in a state law. Colorado followed quickly after. More recently, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale, and use of it.
This is all to say that the trajectory of marijuana is that it will become more and more acceptable. Some report that even the NFL is contemplating lifting their restrictions of it.
It won’t be long before the SBC is affected by this trend. It will begin with the church members, and it will eventually affect the pastors. All it will take is one popular pastor to publicly acknowledge that he smokes it, and the trend will supplant the issue that alcohol is today.
3. ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY WILL BE THE NEW RACISM
There is a scene in the 2013 movie 42, where Jackie Robinson is on deck to bat and a mocker is both seen and heard in the stands screaming obscenities at him because he is black. The scene is provoking, because it shows the man’s son sitting beside him observing his behavior. Before long, the son begins mimicking his father, suggesting that he grows up to be a racist like his dad. Age wise, this son would be roughly 70 years old today.
Racism is obviously still an issue. The ongoing Donald Sterling case reveals this. However, it’s not unreasonable to say that the current “grandparent” and “great-grandparent” generation is more apt to be racist than the “grandson” and “great-grandson” aged people. This is, of course, not the rule, but it is a reasonable observation. I have dealt with this personally during my adoption journey of a black Ethiopian child.
With all of this said, I fear that, in 50 years, anyone who vocally opposes homosexuality will be unrighteously viewed in the same way a racist is righteously viewed today, which is unfortunate. I imagine a movie will be made of Michael Sam or Jason Collins, showing someone screaming obscenities at him from the stands, with a son that begins to mimic him.
With more and more Christians publicly stating their support of homosexuality this might well happen before the 50 year mark.
I am reminded of a story I once heard about a conversation that took place been a husband and wife of 50 years. While driving down the road in their single cab pickup truck, the wife looks over at her husband and says, “You know, we used to sit a lot closer in this thing.” The husband, looking back at his wife, says, “That’s true, but I’m not the one that moved!”
I fear that, in 50 years, the church might look at God and say, “You know, we used to sit a lot closer,” and God will look at the church and say, “That’s true, but I’m not the one that moved.”
I wish that believers would desperately hold on to truth as dictated by God’s Word, instead of allowing culture to dictate it for them. God’s Word is unchanging, and so our faith should be unchanging. I tremble at what the Christian faith might look like in a handful of decades. The trajectory suggests that there might be little difference between the church and the world, even though God and his Word have not changed.