What if the ‘culture war’ never happened?
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “culture wars” and their legacy and what damage they have done to the witness of the church. The problem with many of these arguments is not that they’re too critical of the culture war, it’s that they’re not critical enough of the “culture war.” In other words, they accept — lock, stock and barrel — the conceptual construct of the “culture wars” that was developed in liberal lore and passed on to a new generation. There is a kind of liberal orthodox view of what the culture wars are, who are the culture warriors, and why we need to leave the culture war behind — and this view (really a caricature) has been accepted too uncritically by too many young evangelicals today.
Dalrymple makes five points:
1. The “culture warriors” did not choose this fight.
2. The notion that the “culture war” is driving people from the church is overblown.
3. What kind of a follower of Christ was someone who leaves because he sees other Christians conflating worldly and religious power?
4. How much should we really care what the world thinks?
5. The term “culture war” is typically only used by the Left, to cast aspersion on one side of the struggle.
When people on the Left, Christian or not, wish to move beyond the “culture war,” they are really wishing that one side would simply lay down its arms and stop fighting. That’s not moving beyond the culture wars; that’s just joining one side and wishing defeat upon the other. Besides, no true “culture warrior” will lay down his arms. Lives are at stake. Fundamental religious and social institutions — the kind that hold a society together — are at stake.
We can have strategic discussions; we can adjust our approach, our language, our arguments; we can work harder and harder to express our convictions in ways that are winsome and culturally relevant. We can deal with the hypocrites in our ranks and expel the charlatans. What we cannot do is simply abdicate the fight.