Ancient Allies in the Culture Wars: Preaching the Former Prophets Today -- By: Paul R. House

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 13:1 (Fall 1995)
Article: Ancient Allies in the Culture Wars: Preaching the Former Prophets Today
Author: Paul R. House


Ancient Allies in the Culture Wars:
Preaching the Former Prophets Today

Paul R. House

Professor of Old Testament
Taylor University
500 West Reade Avenue
Upland, IN 46989–1001

Introduction

Preachers in North America face audiences every week that have been bombarded with cultural beliefs foreign to Christianity. Worse yet, there is every reason to believe that in most congregations cultural factors influence thinking and behavior more than faith commitments. Polls indicate that Christians are only slightly less likely than non-Christians to lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, or otherwise act in a manner opposed to scriptural teachings.1 Many Christians seem to have adopted a secular mindset, which Dallas Willard defines as the belief that reality amounts to what can be experienced sensually.2 Eternity seems quite distant. Christians seem to think that as long as they sin to a lesser degree than their neighbors that they themselves are right with God. This attitude pervades the clergy and laity alike, as the heavy flow of routine church scandals has sadly demonstrated.

Pastors face, then, congregations that are quite comfortable with the worldviews around them. Charles Colson and Ellen Vaughn observe that

when compared with previous generations of believers, we seem among the most thoroughly at peace with our culture, the least adept at transforming society, and the most desperate for a meaningful faith. Our raison d’etre is confused, our mission obscured, and our existence as a people in jeopardy.3

This assessment will seem accurate to all but the most optimistic of persons. Christian faith and Christian witness are at a low ebb during a time when Christian witness is essential for helping the church be part of solving massive spiritual, economic, political, and social problems. Theology and the resulting practice that comes from theology is so irrelevant to the average Christian that David Wells has asked the vital question, “Whatever became of evangelical theology?”4 If anything, laypeople are more honest about the crisis than their pastors, whose careers are tied to reporting success, not failure, to pulpit committees and denominational organizations.

In fact, pastors appear unable to determine what to do about the church’s slide into theological and practical irrelevance. Colson and Vaughn conclude their sad assessment by noting, “Worst of all, our leaders know it [the problem]-but seem...

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