How Christians Can Go Beyond The ‘Culture War’ – Part 1
Many Christians feel we’re losing the ‘culture war’. From SSM to euthanasia, the traditional Christian perspective has lost ground in much of mainstream society. We’re a minority.
And yet, I want to suggest that far from getting down about the marginalisation of Christianity, we should look to the opportunities that minority status brings. Now is a good time to re-evaluate how we engage our post-Christian culture.
And after finishing author and evangelist Sam Chan’s brilliant new book, How to Evangelise a Skeptical World – How to Make the Unbelievable New About Jesus More Believable, I’ve had my eyes opened to alternative ways we can bring the gospel to our society – even if we’re on the losing end of a culture war.
Here are my thoughts based on Chan’s book:
1) Christians Need to Go Beyond the Culture Wars
We need to show how Jesus is the ultimate answer to people’s underlying desires. I’m all for challenging bad ideas and bad policies in the public square. Whether it be compulsory gender fluidity education for children, eroding religious freedom, or post-modernism. Bad ideas have consequences, and out of love of neighbour, we should challenge them lest they take root and fester.
But if as Christians we merely challenge bad ideas, then we miss a big opportunity: an opportunity to show how Jesus is the answer to the desires that lead people to adopt bad ideas. People need Jesus – the only one who can satisfy their deepest needs, whether they realise it or not.
And so, we need to go beyond the culture war.
But how can we do that? Do we just need to remain silent when all sorts of bad ideas spill out into the public square? Do we give up our God-given responsibility as citizens to speak up in public?
Not at all. We just need to tweak – or at least expand – how we engage. And there is where Sam Chan’s book is so helpful.
Chan gives us a useful method to engage our culture. It’s not a new method – in fact missionaries use it all the time when entering a new culture. And it’s a method we need to learn, because Australian Christians are rapidly becoming ‘foreigners’ (culturally speaking) in our own society.
So here are the 4 steps that allow us to engage our culture well. They’ll allow us to go beyond the culture war.
2) The 4 Steps to Going Beyond the Culture War
Step 1: Seek first to understand the other person’s view
Describe it better than they can. When a friend, colleague, family member raises an issue that you happen to disagree with, your natural inclination will probably be to get into fight or flight mode: you’ll feel like disagreeing straight away (paving the way for an argument), or you’ll possibly just let the matter drop. While there is wisdom in letting an issue ‘go through to the keeper’, I think there’s a better way.
And the first step is simply to understand – to really understand – the other person’s position is.
Here are a couple of things to note:
Don’t assume anything. Assuming you know what your opponent believes (and why) can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings – and conflict.
At this point, you’re not defending or arguing for any position. You’re simply giving them the space to open up and share exactly what they believe. They’re in the ‘hot seat’, not you.
Don’t be surprised if people don’t really know why they believe what they believe. People (including Christians) usually take on board what sounds good, without thinking through what it means.
Once they say ‘Yes! That’s exactly what I mean – you’ve got it!’ , you’ve understood. (Part 2—next week)
Akos Balogh is a Christ-follower, husband, father, blogger. And the Executive Director of The Gospel Coalition Australia. In his previous life, he worked as a campus Chaplain, helping broken people get to know Jesus, and worked as a military Aerospace Engineer, fixing broken aeroplanes. This article is from his blog site.