Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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More Thoughts About the Culture War

Culture War

By Dennis Pollock

My wife, Benedicta, and I could hardly have grown up in two more different cultures. My boyhood was spent in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri; she grew up in a small village in interior Nigeria. The language she spoke in her youth was called Igbo; my language was known as English. My house was a frame house with shingles on the roof; hers was a mud hut with dried thatch above the walls. I often spent a big part of my evenings watching television; she had no electricity at all in her house.

In this study I want to talk about two different cultures, but I won t be comparing Africa with America. The cultures I want to discuss are the Christian culture vs. the secular culture. From my youth Christianity was part and parcel of my life. Practically from the time I could understand anything I was taken to church where I learned how God created Adam and Eve and how David slew the evil giant, Goliath.  I heard about men and women who lived thousands of years ago, such as Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Mary and Joseph, and Moses and the Israelites.

My parents freely talked about the Bible and Christianity. To them it was as natural as eating, sleeping, and breathing. I became totally familiar with the stories of Jesus healing the sick, eating with sinners, walking on water, dying on the cross, and being raised from the dead on the third day. These things were spoken about in church, at home, and nearly everywhere else. Even if one had wanted to, which I didn t, it would have been impossible to escape the constant stream of Christian and Bible truths which came at me from nearly every direction. I didn t see this as unusual or as some kind of brainwashing; this was simply how life was. I ate my meals, went to school, played with my friends, rode my bicycle, and heard about God and Jesus Christ – a lot.

Drifting Away - And Coming Back

When I grew into my mid-teens, despite all my religious knowledge and exposure to Christianity, I began to drift away. In those days in the mid to late 1960 s, a secular revolution was beginning to envelop America. Time Magazine was suggesting that God had died, and young people were far more interested in protesting the Vietnam War and promoting Free Love” than they were in  going to church and hearing that God loved them and had a wonderful plan for their lives. Despite my early years in church, I succumbed to secularism – for a while.

From about the age of fifteen through nineteen I rarely went to church and gave no consideration to God. I was preoccupied with myself and my own dreams, plans, and pleasures, and had little use for a mysterious, invisible deity who had the whole world in His hands.” Religion seemed something for my parents’ generation, not for someone as cool, sharp, and sophisticated as I (not that I was any of those things, but I liked to think I was). Seemingly, all the Bible learning and exposure I had to Christianity had done me little good.

This didn t last too long, however. At the age of nineteen, out of a sudden whim” to read the New Testament and see what it had to say, I was powerfully drawn to the Jesus presented there by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I was overwhelmed and I felt irresistibly attracted to Christ. I received Him as my Savior and Lord and never looked back.

Soon I was once again plunged into the Christian culture. I went to church regularly, I read the Bible, I attended Bible studies, I watched Christian television, I read Christian books, I listened to Christian radio and Christian tapes (CD s later, and eventually mp3 s). My friends were Christians, and my view of life was totally colored by my Bible-inspired views, values, and attitudes.

Absorbed in Christ

I have been living in that culture ever since those days, which means that at this time I have been immersed in Christianity for nearly fifty years since my conversion, in addition to most of my childhood years. There is no Bible story one could mention that I haven t read dozens of times. There is no Bible doctrine that I have not thought about and meditated on for many hours. I do not regret this at all. I consider my time in and exposure to Christ and Christianity to be the most valuable time-expenditure of my life. It has benefited me greatly in this life and will benefit me infinitely more in the life that is to come.

All that I have just related places me in a certain category of people. I am a grateful member of the group known as evangelicals.” Many see the evangelicals in a political sense and consider us a voting block to be wooed or in some cases despised. I will admit that we tend to vote alike on certain issues, especially things addressed in the Scriptures which we see as either moral or immoral.  When we feel that a political issue is a moral and Biblical issue, we will allow the Scriptures to dictate the side we take.

It is sometimes difficult to define evangelicals.” It has little bearing on which church we attend. It has to do with the fact that we take the Bible seriously, believing it to be the inspired word of God. We cannot allow ourselves to hold positions which are contradicted by the writers. We have read the Bible too many times, we have heard too many sermons, watched too much Christian television, read too many Christian books, and thought too many Christian thoughts to simply push the Scriptures aside when modern thinking and philosophy begin to stray from its commands and precepts. Just as my wife grew up speaking Igbo and I grew up speaking English, evangelicals grow up speaking and thinking Bible, and not only speaking it, but allowing it to shape their values, convictions, and yes, even their political views.

There is, of course, another culture in America these days, which has been growing larger and larger until today. It greatly outweighs the evangelical culture. Most of our young people today, and many now in their twenties and thirties, have grown up in this culture, which I will call secularism.” These men and women never went to church in their youth, or else went to a socially correct church which gave little heed to the Bible. In their childhood they never prayed before meals, they never heard Mom or Dad talk about God, and never saw them pray. Sunday mornings were for sleeping in and watching television with no thought of ever going to church. The Bible was never read, Christian television was never watched, and Christian music never listened to. The stories of Jesus healing the sick were never learned, and they had no clue who Moses was or David or Elijah, or Paul, or Peter, or John.

The Culture of the Secular

They grew up assuming that the world began with a big bang that had nothing to do with God, and through a process of evolution humans came into existence. We will live out our few decades on this earth and then die and cease to exist, so we had better grab for all the power and pleasure we can while we are still here, because we will soon be gone and become eternally non-existent.

The values and political perspectives of these people are entirely opposed to the Christian values inherited from their time in the Scriptures. Secularists look at us evangelicals and wonder how anyone could be so stupid. Their values change, almost always for the worse, with every generation. But the values of evangelicals are rock-steady. Our values on the important matters of life never change. To secularists we seem primitive, ignorant, archaic, and hopelessly unsophisticated.

We opposed abortion when Roe v Wade made it legal in 1973, and we still oppose it just as vigorously today. Evangelicals felt that sex outside of traditional marriage was unlawful and wrong in the 1950 s and here we are, well into another century, and we still feel exactly the same. What in the world is wrong with us??? The answer is that nothing is wrong with us. We who grew up in a Christian culture and heard the teachings of the Bible over and over are as convinced as ever that we will cling to the words of Scripture and the views of Moses, Jesus, and Paul, rather than succumb to the words of Oprah Winfrey, or the songs of Miley Cyrus, or the lyrics of Snoop Dog.

We Don t Understand Them Either!

And of course, just as the secularists don t understand us at all, and look at us as hopelessly behind the times, neither do we understand them. We look at them as hopelessly drowning in an ungodly ocean of profanity and sensuality. We evangelicals don t get why so many people these days cannot put together a single sentence without adding an f-bomb,” or why virginity in a single person is looked on as the mark of a loser rather than the evidence of decency and self-control. We cannot imagine how people can bombard their ears and their minds with loud, harsh, angry, sexually laced music, and call it “awesome.” We find it puzzling that so many people refer to the killing of an unborn infant as a woman s so-called right to choose.” Right to choose what? To choose putting an end to the precious life that God has given her?

But, when you think about it, they are acting, speaking, and believing according to the culture in which they were immersed from birth, even as we evangelicals are doing when we hold the exact opposite values. The secularists grew up feeding their spirits on the attitudes and opinions of celebrities who never speak of God except as a curse word and listening to the press who are overwhelmingly anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-Bible. It is no surprise that they feel and act and speak as they do. Given the intellectual and spiritual food” they have been ingesting since birth, how could it be otherwise? And of course, evangelicals and secularists frequently find themselves at odds. It was no different in Jesus day. He told His disciples: ...Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).

Given all this, one might suppose there is no hope for people born into secular families, who grew up watching celebrities and news anchors with zero use for God or Christ. But in fact there is hope for them. We evangelicals have a secret weapon, something the secularists can never match. It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of Jesus: His life, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and the eternal life He provides as we believe on Him can change the heart of even the most secular of the secular, the most ungodly of the ungodly, the lewdest of the lewd.

And it doesn t even require that the hearer have a long background in Christianity! A small amount of knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did, a brief description of His death and resurrection, and an invitation to receive Him as Lord and Savior is all it takes. Vast multitudes have been transformed from secular to deeply devout, from godless to godly, from scorners to reverent simply by hearing a few words about Jesus, simply spoken, without a lot of fanfare or eye-dazzling special effects.

A New Culture!

And once the secular become believers and the mockers become worshippers, they are drawn into a new and different culture. They start attending church, listening to sermons, reading the Bible, attending Bible studies, watching Christian television, listening to Christian music, and attending Christian seminars. They even learn a new language – the language of Scripture, and become familiar with men like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Paul and Peter, and most important of all, our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom they have now trusted.

We wish we could convert the entire world, but that is not going to happen. But we can touch a few here and there, and with that hope, we give ourselves to evangelism, and to supporting ministries that engage in evangelism. Our great desire is not to mock our opposition in this world. We do not see them as enemies, but as our potential brothers and sisters. And so we open our mouths. We talk about Jesus, write about Jesus, put up YouTube videos about Jesus, sing about Jesus, and make a big deal about Him. For the sake of the few who will listen we choose to become fools for Christ” in the eyes of many. There is no greater honor.



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