There’s a reason the culture war is so ferocious.
As we accelerate into a year of intense presidential politics, CT will offer essays about how evangelical Christians understand our times and what our response should be. This is the first in an occasional series. –Eds
We live in a time of shifting sand. The avalanche of social, political and legal changes we’ve experienced has left many believers reeling. They are troubled by what they see but also befuddled about how to respond. Amid much wringing of the hands they hear some calling for a circling of the wagons; others insist we must “take America back”; still others counsel “engagement” with the culture, often on its own terms. Confused by their times, many Christians remain uncertain about “what Israel should do.”
This last phrase is drawn from 1 Chronicles 12:32. The historical setting of this passage was also a time of shifting sand. King Saul had become unstable and was all but finished; yet he was still powerful and dangerous. The young upstart David appeared to be the future, but he was scarcely a sure thing. Israel’s tribes faced a ticklish decision. Each had to decide where their loyalties should lie. The tribe of Issachar made the right decision. This, the chronicler informs us, was because they “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”
This is the challenge many evangelical Christians face in our own generation. Crafting a wise and godly response to what’s taking place around us requires that we understand our times. To gain that understanding, however, we must be willing to look beyond our society’s presenting symptoms to underlying causes. Only then can we make sense of our current cultural predicament.