The Culture Wars And Why They Will Continue

Here is something I wrote during seminary and am becoming more convinced that it might be correct.

It has become common for young Christian leaders to have apathy towards a right-wing Christianity that is constantly at odds with the culture around them.  Younger Christians are standing up and saying they want to move past the tired culture war debates that have persisted over the last 30 years.  But I have begun to wonder if this is really possible or just a naive idea.

Don’t get me wrong I think that some Christians, past and present, have too tightly tied together biblical principles and political values.  And the result has been that for many of the unchurched in our nation Christianity is a group of hypocritical bigots who are just trying to establish a puritanical theocracy.

But is it possible for biblical faithful Christians to move past the culture wars?  As much as I would like to say yes the sad truth is no, in fact I think the culture wars will only escalate in the coming decades.  And while they may go dormant with one side winning more than the other they will only boil more intensely as time goes on.

My point of this post is not to rally the troops or to prepare you to pick sides but more of to explain why I think this is the case.

Up until the Enlightenment humanity had a shared theistic/deism/Christian worldview.  This worldview grounded morality and explained how people ought to act and behave.  It was the grounding, to use the proper philosophical term, of why people acted with virtue.  We had a shared civil morality that grounded how we governed and interacted with each other.  With the Enlightenment this all changed.

Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead and with the rise of Darwinian evolution we were freed from the need to believe that God created the cosmos, therefore if God was not needed for creation he was not needed to ground our morality either.  Such statements that we find in our Declaration of Independence that ground the worth and value of humans not in what they can do or achieve but rather in their orgins/ontology no longer made any sense.  It became impossible to tell anyone why they should not steal, or harm others, other than to make secular arguments from utilitarianism about working for the greatest good for the greatest number.  But even with utilitarianism there is no grounding for the “ought” why ought one comply with what is good for the greatest number and for that matter what is good and who gets to define it?

With this moral confusion fascism, communism and uber-nationalism took root.  The history of the twentieth century bore the fruit of these new human ambitions with events such as WWI, WWII, and the atrocities of Pol-Pot in China. Secular intellectuals who put such hope in these ideologies did not return to faith for the grounding of human morality and meaning rather they reached into despair that any truth about the world was possible, thus the rise of postmodernism.

Truth became subjective (true for you but not for me), minimalistic (as long as I don’t hurt anyone) and ever changing depending on one’s culture.  Morality was turned into a hodgepodge of sentimental consensus and preference.  Which effectively stripped it of a sturdy basis to speak out against moral evils.

Without a grounding for morality no moral consensus can be reached, which is why we are in an ongoing culture war.  Human rights, and morality once grounded in Creator God are now subjective instead of objective.

Without God and grounding our morality in him we are left with no real resource to say what is good or evil, right or wrong, or how humans ought to live. And these are really the root issues and matters that undergird all of the culture wars, and why they will only intensify over time.  For the Christian, human rights, morality, and truth are knowable and rooted in God.  For many secular liberals nothing could be more absurd and disdainful.  As time wears on this cultural divide will only make itself more apparent in our elections, educational systems, entertainment, and laws.

Of course I am not advocating a “us vs. them” posture.  I am simply attempting to explain the culture wars and why they will continue.  It will be the responsibility of every mature follower of Jesus to deftly navigate these perilous culture waters and love both the truth God has objectively given to us and our neighbor.


Doug Groothuis: MeWorld

My former Professor at Denver Seminary has a fun blog that I like to read on occasion called The Constructive Curmudgeon.  His posts are often thought provoking and convicting for me.  Here is a post he wrote a few days ago about the implicit self-absorption that makes up much of our current culture.  He entitled he parody post “MeWorld” which I think says it all.

Hi, this is Me.

You need to know everything about Me. Here are hundreds of photos of Me. I am cool, cute, in the know, have photogenic friends, and those who aren’t make Me look better. I can strike a pose, even hundreds of them: Me on display for you.

You need to know all My likes and dislikes, too: My favorite TV shows, movies, video games, foods, celebrities, clothes, tweets, and more. My trivia is your treasure–because it’s Mine.

It’s MeWorld: just Me for everyone out there, because you need to know Me. I need more friends on Facebook, more twitter partners, more posts on My blog, more cell calls, more links to Me, more emails to Me, more YouTube videos featuring Me.
You need to know everything about Me.

Don’t you? Hello…

Randy Alcorn On Financial Debt

Randy Alcorn has been an excellent author that I have loved reading over the years.  He has a wonderful book on Heaven, and also writes extensively about money and its spiritual implications.

On his blog he wrote this wonderful post talking about a young couple who is a $100K in debt due to student loans and how they should proceed.  Its well worth reading, and I mention it because I think mismanagement of money has become one of the “acceptable” sins for western evangelical culture.


Obama’s First Supreme Court Pick; Sonia Sotomayor

Interesting Pick on Obama’s part.  If the GOP tries to slay her in the confirmation hearings then they risk doing irreversible damage to their appeal in the Latino community.  And while Sotomayor may not be a full fledge activist judge (an approach to law that approves of making policy/law from the bench) there are some troubling points about her resume.

1.  Here is a quote that many have found tough to swallow, especially if your a white male!

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”

Let me try this on as if it was a statement by Chief Justice Roberts. “I would hope that as an educated white man with a wealth of life lessons, would be more inclined to reach a better decision than a Hispanic woman who has not lived my life.”

Point being that while Sotomayor’s statement may not be racism it is at least identity politics, and an attempt to promote race preference as long as it is the right kind…

2. In the court case Ricci vs. DeStefano,  Sotomayor affirmed that it was acceptable for the New Haven fire department to not promote any of the white firefighters who passed a promotional exam, due to the fact that no African American candidates passed.  Once again we see a selective race/ethnic judicial mindset that favors some races over others.

Of course I think Sotomayor will get appointed and will sail through her confirmation hearings, but at the very least I hope some Americans will learn about the different judicial philosophies that shape our courts and the lives of Americans.


Evolution Proved? Ida The Missing Link?

Not so much.

The frenzy has begun.  Evolutionists are as excited as ever, with some claiming they have found the missing link, though it was hanging on some rich man’s wall for the last few decades before being discovered.  Yet as loud and boisterous hardcore Darwinians want to preach their good news, their evidence is far from conclusive.  The fossil find has been named Ida, and she is far from Cro-Magnon man or any type of missing link.  In reality Ida is a Lemur who seems to display evidence of micro-evolution and not macro-evolution.  What is the difference?  Good question.

Micro-evolution has never been debated, everyone agrees on it.  It is small adaptations over time such a beak becoming more narrow, thick, or sharp depending on what is most advantageous for its environmental needs. The controversy swells around macro-evolution, which claims that entirely new species emerge from other species going all the way back to one common life source (supposedly a pool of simple cells in primordial soup, which requires extreme amounts of faith to believe once you understand that a cell is more complex in structure than even the most complex machines humans can build.)

Truth be told the search for the missing link has been the Holy Grail for Darwinian Naturalists, as even Darwin himself said if the fossil record did not support his theory of gradual transitory change from one species to another over time then his theory of macro-evolution was bankrupt.  So the question is, have we found it?  Well I will let the experts speak here (from AP article).

Experts not connected with the discovery said the finding was remarkably complete because of features like stomach contents. But they questioned the conclusions of Hurum and his colleagues about how closely it is related to ancestors of monkeys and humans.

“I actually don’t think it’s terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people,” said K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. “I would say it’s about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate.”

Rather than a long-ago aunt, “I would say it’s more like a third cousin twice removed,” he said. So it probably resembles ancestral creatures “only in a very peripheral way,” he said.

John Fleagle of the State University of New York at Stony Brook said the scientists’ analysis provides only “a pretty weak link” between the new creature and higher primates, called anthropoids, that includes monkeys and man.

“It doesn’t really tell us much about anthropoid origins, quite frankly,” Fleagle said.

Needless to say, this fossil find is far from the missing link and is more hype than truth.  In reality, Ida’s fossil appears to be really just a Lemur prior to minor adaptions. This could be considered big news if you are a fan of ancient zoology, but has little to do with proving what Darwin set out to explain; the origin of species.

Truth be told the scientists who are announcing Ida are looking for the biggest stage possible and the brightest spotlights they can find to share their interpretation of what they see in the fossil of Ida.  Yet it is far from unbiased proven scientific fact.  Other experts look at Ida and shrug, Why?  Well that is because looking at Ida is like looking at a puffy cloud with friends; one of you might see a oil tanker, and someone else see’s a spaceship.  Far from exact irrefutable proof.

So why all the hype?  Why when I log onto Google this morning is their logo paying homage to this fossil find?  Why is it plastered on every story I can find on the web this morning?  Well that is because this is really not about fossils at all, it is about worldview.  It is about proving that humans are merely animals and that there is nothing unique or transcendent about our existence.  And if that is the case than we free to do as we please, our behavior does not matter, the way we treat others is cosmically inconsequential, and the reality of God is further debunked.  Ida is not about science, Ida will become a worldview flag trumpeting forward secular humanism.


President Obama’s Abortion Contradiction At Notre Dame

President Obama caused a big ruckus this weekend by speaking at Notre Dame’s graduation, and receiving an honorary degree.  Being that Obama is pro-choice (in favor of abortion) and speaking at a Catholic university that is explicitly pro-life, there was bound to be protests about his appearance.  Many in the media who are pro-choice loved Obama’s speech and have deemed it a victorious achievement on his part and one of his best speeches ever.

Yet looking at the actual content of Obama’s speech there is nothing new, fresh, or great about it.  Rather the speech is convoluted in logic and hides misleading content behind flowering rhetoric.  Here are the important lines from his speech.

“(both sides) can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

“So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”

Whenever I hear any talk about reducing abortions my brain is frozen with the question; why? If there is nothing immoral about abortion, if it is not killing a human, than why focus on reducing abortions? It is akin to saying lets reduce mole removals, or wisdom teeth removals. Why are there no agendas to limit these surgical procedures?

This question MUST be asked by any thoughtful journalist the next time any politician begins with this kind of reducing abortion talk.

In addition, it is begging the question to move right onto the issue of choice and speaking of the heart wrenching matter of a woman choosing an abortion without first addressing the central question of the whole debate; what is the unborn?  If the unborn are human than talking about choice is simply horrific.  It is akin to saying a woman has a right to murder her toddler if done in the privacy of her own home and she has wrestled with the question.  There is nothing personal or private about abortion, just like it would not be acceptable to say, “I am personally against slavery but I do not want to impose upon others choice to own or not own slaves.”  We must do better than this.

I implore all of you to not fall for this double-speak that is riddled with contradictions from Obama.  He must tell us why someone who is for abortion would want to work to reduce them and not wisdom teeth removal, or mole removal.


Welcome to the Circus

*** Preface. My buddy Brent has given some inside info in regards to the Genesis of this debate that most of us were unaware of. His information seriously hinders the integrity of my pressupositions that brought about this post. This being the case, please read the comments to find out how big of an idiot I am. But also take Ryan’s comment into consideration regarding the few good points I actually make.***


A lot of Christians I know are excited about the recent Nightlight debate about “The Existence of Satan.” They shouldn’t be.

Like a bad reality television show, the producers arrganged a debate not to come to any conclusion about humanity, or in this case, Satan. Rather they put four polarizing quote machines on stage hoping that a mosaic of chaotic one-liners would ensue.

Mission accomplished.

Lobert and Driscoll on stage


Let me start off with my team. I know Mark Driscoll. I know people that know Annie Lobert. Here’s why they were chosen:

On stage Driscoll is a loud mouthed, excitable one-liner quote machine of Christian pop-culture (he is many other things as well, many of them I am fond of, but I am assuming that none of those were why he was chosen for this debate). Listen to about 50 sermons and you will notice the recycled one-liners and soon be able to call them out before they come (note: he would no doubt conclude this as well. His sermon outlines dictate that he simply recycle his well prepared analogies and jokes around the Big Idea [shout out to Haddon Robinson] of the passage.) As he has shown by his recent media appearances: this is one of the main things “Pastor Dude” is good for.

Side note: I believe Mark to be one of the smartest and most theologically equipped theologians I know. But his recent media appearances have fed into certain stereotypes of his persona. His quick one-liners mixed with theology are so good for news media because they illicit such a visceral gut reaction either good or bad. Mark is a great theologian, but that is not why he is being interviewed by the media. Just for the record, D.A. Carson isn’t making any major news outlets for quotes or interviews.

Lobert was not chosen because of her compelling testimony, rather for her image, the bombastic nature of her ministry (which I am not in disagreement with) and her great claim that she was raped by Satan/demons. Not a theologian, simply a piece of the circus, of whom I can only guess producers hoped would be emotionally driven.

Super side note: I am not trying to bad mouth or say I do not like these people. I love Mark and am very grateful for Annie. I am simply trying to show why I think they were chosen for this debate.

Chopra came off as a pretentious know-it-all, so I’m guessing that’s why he was involved. And the other guy seemed, and probably is, nuts so there you go (plus he was black, and ABC probably wanted to even the race card out).

I sent the link of this interview to someone I knew that didn’t really have a horse in the race and this was his response (note, I sent this to him before I had a chance to watch the debate):

“Bro, you MUST watch these, hilarity will ensue, I promise!
-First off, who the hell (pun intended) picked these four people expecting a true debate?”

I know that many Christians are very excited that the gospel was preached (very well by Pastor Dude), as am I. I know that many are excited by how Driscoll came off, which wasn’t that bad. But we must not miss the bigger picture. We as Christians, the idea of Satan, and one of the most prominent leaders of the “New Calvinism” were made a mockery of. And it is really dangerous when you are being made fun of and don’t realize it. When this happens your voice doesn’t carry much weight, and your topic is automatically straw-maned. It doesn’t matter if it is justified or not.

So Christians, Mark Driscoll and Annie Lobert especially: you are being made a mockery of. You were picked to be a part of this circus because they thought you would make for entertainment. Not because they value our/your opinion.

Let’s reconsider how excited, and furthermore, how we promote these circuses.

– matt

Francis Schaeffer: A Theology of Silence and Solitude

” Some are saying that in the next generation, the government’s chief job will be to devise ways of keeping a growing mass of people entertained, because machines will have taken their jobs” No Little People, Schaeffer p. 85.

Schaeffer was quite prophetic as he wrote in the 1970’s, and even then he had some cautionary words about the Christian soul and entertainment/technologies effect on it.

“People today are afraid to be alone.  This fear is a dominant mark upon our society.  Many now ceaselesly sit in the cinema or read novels  about other people’s lives or watch dramas.  Why?  Simply to avoid facing their own existence.  Many of us can sit in front of the television and, except on rare occasions, not face our own private life.  Entertainment so fills every cranny of our culture we can easily escape thinking.”

Is this true?  I know it pricks my conscience as I think about my own propensity to “zone out” in front of the television rather than engage with life.  What does Schaeffer mean by saying “we are afraid to face our own existence?”

But wait he keeps going.

“So is the one who stands with the transistor radio plugged in his ear much of the day.  No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place for quiet–because when you are quiet, you have to face reality.  But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise.”

The last sentence hits hard.  Yet it might be why we live in a culture that never considers its own mortality or finitness.  Most of us go on living as if we have forever.  We forget to heed the words of James 4.

Schaeffer concludes with saying, “The Christian is supposed to be the very opposite.  There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet.  Rather we are to put everthing second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow him to speak to us and confront us.”

Please read this twice and let it sink in.  It may sound obvious but it is hard to hear and commune with God when our lives are so filled with noise, like trying to have a conversation at a Las Vegas night club.  Schaeffer begs with us to make ourselves alive to silence.  To give way to quietness for the sake of our soul.  Wrestle with your existence and now that you are finite and your life is short.

When I was in college one of my favorite verses was Isaiah 30: 15.

This is what the LORD the Holy One of Israel, says:

In repentence and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.


Thanksgiving, Family, and Snow


img_1813 Here is my awesome dog Tucker after eating his Thanksgiving dinner.  I am thankful for him because he is the best dog in the world, and brings us great joy.

img_1816 I am thankful for such an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything we had was delicious and led me to eat more than I should have.  Most of all though I am thankful for my amazing wife who worked very hard to make such a great meal.  She is truly a beautiful woman who constantly encourages, supports, and loves me, even when I don’t deserve it.

img_1824 This was the tasty pumpkin cake with pomegranate seeds that Crystal and my mother in law made.  We were blessed and thankful to have Crystal’s parents with us as we celebrated Thanksgiving.  They are always so kind and loving toward us.  I am thankful for them and all the rest of my family that I could not be with, such as my mom and sisters in Rockford.

img_0196 Also God blessed us with our first major snowfall of the season.  Couple that with some Christmas music, hot chocolate and you have the recipe for fond memories.

Hope your Thanksgiving was as fun as mine.


California’s Proposition 8 and Morality

Well outside of Obama’s historic election win, the biggest political story was probably the victory of Proposition 8 in California.  Basically Proposition 8 was an amendment to the California constitution to ban same sex marriage.  The proposition was spurred by the California Supreme Court nullifying a law that the voters had passed in 2006, that out-lawed gay marriage.  This was quintessential judicial activism.

Well LGBT and same sex marriage supporters have already begun their protests and proclaiming that “their rights” have been violated, and that this is a failure of separation of church and state.  They could not be more wrong.

All people, and I repeat ALL people have the right to marry, both heterosexual and gay, and both are restricted from marrying someone of the same sex. Just like both gay and straight are restricted from marrying a child, or two people at once.

This is because states sanction and give benefits for marriage, not because of religious convictions, but civic good.  The state has a vested interest in seeing marriages between men and women occur because it is the fundamental relationship in which children are conceived and raised.  That is really it.  So when the state sanctions and encourages marriage it does so because it is trying to foster the normative conditions for the production and rearing of the next generation.  And ontologically, heterosexual marriage is the only union which can naturally produce children.  This is not ideological discrimination, just biological and anatomy fact.  A good case study of all of this and what happens when the state does not intentionally encourage heterosexual marital unions that produce children is Russia.  Because traditional marriage and traditional sexual morals have deteriorated so extensively, Russia is facing a declining population and serious fears about its economic and military future in the next 30 years.

All of this to say the idea that the separation of church and state is being violated and morality is being forced on homosexuals is just plan ignorant.  Because all law is morality, you cannot legislate anything but morality.  All laws are proscriptions of things you must do, or must not do so that society will run well.  All political arguments are therefore whose morals and what morals will be legislated.  In addition, claiming that legislating morality is a breach of separation of church and state is a categorical error of not understanding that morality and church are not synonymous.

The real funny thing about all of this is that when those who are outraged about morality being imposed upon them, fail to be consistent when their morality is encoded into law and imposed upon others…not even a whimper.

UPDATE:  Protests have been raging since Tuesday and this Sunday gay activists gathered at Saddleback to protest proposition 8.  Sad all the way around as it is such a convoluted picture of how we would want the church to make news in our communities.  Sometimes I am hopeful that we can move beyond the culture wars, and others times not so much…