For conservative Christians, a psychological adjustment is taking place. In a de-Christianized culture, it becomes harder to imagine yourself part of a “moral majority.” This was never quite true, but now, with the decline of casual Christianity, it is incredible. So how do 62 million evangelical Christians and other theological conservatives — not a majority but a significant minority — view themselves and their cultural role?
One option, clearly, is for conservative Christians to imagine themselves as an aggrieved and repressed remnant. This attitude is expressed as stridency, but it is really the fear of lost social position. America, once viewed as the New Israel, becomes the new Babylon. The church engages the world to diagnose decadence and defend its own rights.
There is, however, another option being explored. Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family — once mission control for the family-values side of the culture war — calls Christians to be “a joyful minority.” “We are no longer effective at persuasion because we lack humility,” says Daly. “Some in the faith community are losing legitimacy among younger people because many Christians only speak truth and fail to do truth.”And “doing truth” leads back to the personalism at the heart of Christian faith — a belief that every human being is valuable, and broken, and in need of grace. “We must always consider the person,” says Pope Francis, a heavy influence on evangelicals seeking a new model of social engagement.
A faith characterized by humility and considering the person would be busy enough. The prevailing culture counts both virtues and victims. The broad decline of institutions leaves many people betrayed, lonely and broken — not only unaffiliated with religion but unaffiliated with family, with community and with all the commitments that give meaning to freedom.
Must-read: “The end of casual Christianity” by Michael Gerson
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/26/15
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