Christians should intentionally and intelligently do more to engage current culture through the arts, says Anthony Horvath, the executive director of Athanatos Christian Ministries, an apologetics ministry.
"If you want to understand the power of culture, look at how gay 'marriage' went from being unfathomable to unstoppable in less than ten years. That doesn't happen by accident," Horvath recently said. "It certainly didn't happen through legislative efforts, which up until recently were all lined up against it. How then did it happen? Answer: intentional manipulation of the culture."
He makes the argument that during this same period of time, the Church has become more aware of the need for Christian apologetics, and Christian apologists in turn have become more aware of the need for cultural engagement through the arts and literature.
However, Horvath says simply being aware of the trend isn't sufficient. Christians have vastly underestimated the importance that culture plays in worldview formation and worse, have no significant efforts underway to reverse that trend, he explained.
"The Church needs to get financially involved in supporting apologists and artists, because they will be the last remaining frontline representatives of the Gospel when the church buildings in America empty – as they have done in post-Christian Europe. And frankly, time is of the essence," he said.
When asked by The Christian Post as to why he is calling out Christians in this matter now, he said, "I hope that the massive cultural shifts on issues such as gay 'marriage' in such a short amount of time alerts my fellow Christians that there are forces at work that require approaches different than how the Church has acted in the past.
"The Church in America takes it for granted that Christianity is a respected voice in the marketplace of ideas because for a long time, it was," he continued. "If the Church is no longer welcome in that marketplace, but it still wants to be part of the conversation and still wants to evangelize, then it needs to come to grips with what we are up against, and what we might be able to do about it. I feel like a time is coming not even cultural engagement will be effective, or welcome."
Athanatos Christian Ministries has long sought to defend the Christian faith through the arts, hosting annual Christian novel contests and writing conferences, according to Horvath. Recently, however, it has "doubled-down on this emphasis" with the formation of an online Christian writer's community and its "literary apologetics" certificate program, offered through its online apologetics academy.
"We want to help authors and artists understand how their work can address emotional and intellectual objections to the Christian faith and then help them do so, and similarly, goad apologists into considering how they can carry out their work through cultural engagement, rather than limiting themselves to argument," Horvath said.
ACM's literary apologetics certificate has something for both sides, providing theological and apologetic instruction on the one hand, and writing workshops, critiques, and analysis of literary apologists such as C.S. Lewis and others, on the other.
"We're doing our part. What is still needed is for the Church to become patrons of the arts the way they used to be. This is a terrible time to be producing starving artists – or apologists," Horvath says.
He believes that the world can change quickly and is already changing rapidly.
"We are called to preach the Gospel, Horvath told CP. "To do that today means thinking carefully about our audience, adjusting where necessary, and remembering that the Bible says, 'The worker is worth his wages.' Christians who believe we should be more involved in the culture through art should support those Christians who are engaged in that work. Not just moral support, but financially, institutionally, and other tangible forms of support."