Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-Belligerence Without Theological Compromise -- By: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 05:4 (Winter 2001)
Article: Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-Belligerence Without Theological Compromise
Author: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Standing Together, Standing Apart:
Cultural Co-Belligerence Without Theological Compromise1

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is President and Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and has edited and contributed to important volumes on theology and culture. Dr. Mohler’s writing is regularly featured in World magazine and Religious News Service.

An ominous sense of urgency surrounds any gathering of those who claim the name of Christ and would dare to speak of eternal things. Darkening shadows and a sense of cultural decline are now settled on the Western Christian conscience with a heaviness of spirit and a tragic sense of loss.

We must not claim that Christianity is the property of Western civilization, but we do acknowledge that Western civilization, such as it is or was, is the product of Christianity and of Christians. Darkness has always loomed in the background, if not in the forefront of Western culture. The critical turning points in Western history were moments when darkness was defeated or dispatched, often just in the nick of time.

Augustine died in 430 as the Vandals were sacking his beloved Hippo. The earthly city would fall, he had warned, but the City of God would remain and stand eternally. Keeping the two cities distinct and clear in the Christian mind has never been easy, but Augustine knew that this distinction is crucial to Christian clear-headedness, and the distinction is irreducibly theological:

One of them, the earthly city, has created for herself such false Gods as she wanted, from any source she chose—even creating them out of men—in order to worship them with sacrifices. The other city, the Heavenly City on pilgrimage in this world, does not create false gods. She herself is the creation of the true God, and she herself is to be his true sacrifice. Nevertheless, both cities alike enjoy the good things, or are afflicted with the adversities of this temporal state, but with a different faith, a different expectation, a different love, until they are separated by a final judgment, and each received her own end, of which there is no end.2

Western civilization now faces a new invasion of the Vandals, and Christians are again confused about the meaning of our current struggle. Theological vandals seek to undermine the Church; political vandals have debased our civic discourse; legal vandals have turned the law into a playground of invented rights; moral vandals entice with a promise of polymorphous perversity; psychological vandals have made every self ...

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