Authentic Christianity in a Post-Christian Culture

I want to talk about something really quickly, and then to our callers, which is the reality that we live in a post-Christian culture. As Rod Dreher says in the Benedict Option, this is not sheer hyperbole; it is sheer reality. He talks about the “deep cultural forces” that are disintegrating Christianity in the West, forces that have created a spiritual crisis that we have not seen — think about this — since the fall of the Roman Empire. Christian conservatives must read the signs of the times. This is not about losing the culture wars, or potentially losing the culture wars. The game is over, as far as the culture wars are concerned. That does not mean this is a defeatist message, because the real solution is in finding your all in the Triadic One. In other words, being brought into the life of the Trinity.

The reason I bring all of this up is that yesterday (June 7, 2017), I could not believe this, I was listening to this conversation between Bernie Sanders, who came very, very close to becoming President of the United States, and he was grilling Russell Vought, who of course is Donald Trump’s nominee to the deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget position. Vought had expressed his belief that Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. He did so in a very nonthreatening fashion. Yet, Sanders was quite literally excoriated. I mean, the transcript is one thing, but you’ve got to hear it. I mean, he is screaming at some point in the conversation. He was really, really upset. Sanders asked,

Let me get to this issue that has bothered me and bothered many other people. And that is in the piece that I referred to that you wrote for the publication called Resurgent. You wrote, “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.” Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?

During the same exchange, Sanders refrains the same question in various ways: “Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?” “I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that all those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned, too?” “In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?” “You think your statement that you put into that publication, ‘They do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned,’ do you think that’s respectful of other religions?”

The line of questioning bears a veiled accusation. You’re saying Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life! That’s Islamophobic! That’s anti-Semitic! Well, he did not use the word “anti-Semitic,” but that is what he implied, and he did use the word “Islamophobic.” He was being very Chistophobic, by the way, in his tirade. Then he said, “This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.” There is no room in his worldview for a Christian in an official government position in the United States who believes Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Now, I bring this up in light of what Russell Moore said. In other words, he commented on this episode. (Of course, we are promoting his book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel. That is a book I want everybody to get as a way to support the ministry.) Here is what Russell Moore said. Moore, of course, is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He said,

Senator Sanders’s comments are breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant — both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine. Even if one were to excuse Senator Sanders for not realizing that all Christians of every age have insisted that faith in Jesus Christ is the only pathway to salvation, it is inconceivable that Senator Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the United States Constitution. No religious test shall ever be required of those seeking public office. While no one expects Senator Sanders to be a theologian, we should expect far more from an elected official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

All of this is to simply underscore the fact that we have lost the culture wars, and with that, we have lost human anthropology. In other words, there is a distorted notion of what we are as human beings created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27–28). Now, this is a point that Russell Vought made very, very clear and calm as he was addressing Bernie Sanders. So, a lot going on in this country.

This is not the time to give up. This is the time to embrace authentic Christianity. Not a Christianity that is consumeristic, but a Christianity that is transformational. If we have that, we are not living in some kind of a mythological world where things are not what they used to be, and they probably never will. It is not about whining and pining. No! This is about recognizing that God and a human being are a majority. Think about what William Wilberforce did or Martin Luther King Jr. or Martin Luther or Athanasius. Remember contra mundum? He was saying, “Athanasius against the world.” I am going to stand no matter what. All of these kinds of stands produced great, great revolutions in society. This is not about defeatism. It is recognizing what is going on, why we lost the culture wars, and how the church itself has to change in the process.

— Hank Hanegraaff

This blog is adapted from the June 8, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.