As American secular society becomes increasingly hostile toward Christians, many are asking if the culture war has already been lost or if they should keep fighting, refusing to yield to the siren song of premature withdrawl in a war that is not yet lost.
Speaking at the Southern Evangelical Seminary's 23rd annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, Dr. Richard Land, president of the seminary, said Christians are called to be the salt and light of the world, and should resist any temptation to believe that because everything has already been predetermined, God will not hold believers accountable for their actions.
To emphasize his point, Land read a quote from Martin Castro, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, who issued a report in which he claimed that "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" are code words for "intolerance."
"The phrases religious liberty and religious freedom will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance," Castro said in the report.
Land said Castro's sentiments are merely a reflection of the progressive movement at the current time.
"This statement and what's been happening in our country are symptoms, a virus has infected us. … We have a virus in our bloodstream that is causing all of this, and it goes back to the question of who and what is a human being," Land said during his lecture at the longest-running and largest apologetics conference in the nation.
"Our forefathers said we have certain unalienable rights as human beings because we were created by our Creator. We have the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. These are inherent rights that belong to human beings because we are created in the image of God," he added.
"Now, if you believe that and the resulting sanctity of life ethic that comes from it, then there are some things that must never be done to a human being. Human beings are sacrosanct and they are separate from the rest of the created order. ...
"If you believe in some form of evolution, and you believe human beings are a naturally occurring phenomenon, then there is no meaning and purpose to life. We are, as Bertrand Russell said, specks of dust blown on the winds of fate," said Land, who's also the executive editor of The Christian Post.
"Then, you are left with a quality of life ethic, where certain other human beings make decisions about whether or not you have the continued right to life, and that there are thresholds below which you can fall in which you no longer have a full right to life."
Christians are living in a society, he said, that has been devaluing life and falling prey to a quality of life ethic. At the same time, Americans are "engaging in an idolatrous form if self-worship called radical individual autonomy, where we have elevated our own personal lives to being the standard by which we judge everything."
Radical individual autonomy
Land described radical individual autonomy as "the most practiced religion in America today.
"Not the most professed but the most practiced, whose holy trinity is: I, myself, and me," explained Land, who served for 25 years as the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This belief, he said, leads people to wrongly surmise that they are their own moral compass and nobody has the right to tell them what they are doing is wrong, even if their destructive actions are hurting other people.
"We're all becoming automized from each other and our smart phones are helping us do it. Our virtual relationships are becoming far more important than our real relationships," Land said, using as an example the oft-seen families sitting at restaurant tables where no one is talking to each other because everyone is on their smartphones.
"We are increasingly trivialized, and I would say lobotomized, by our constant attraction to and connectedness to an increasingly trivial electronic world."
Land noted that a 2003 report from the Commission on Children at Risk, "Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities," a joint project of the Dartmouth Medical School and the Institute for American Values, warned that "1 in 5 children in America is at serious risk for emotional and physiological problems because of a connection crisis."
"The report presented extensive scientific evidence that the human brain is hardwired for two fundamental kinds of connection: horizontal and vertical," he said. "Horizontally refers to close relationships with other human beings. God said it's not good to be alone, and that was before the fall. After the fall it's catastrophic. And vertically, in finding moral and spiritual meaning through a relationship with a transcendent divine being.
"Not only is it vital to provide children with stable, close relationships with family and community, and to nurture their need for moral and spiritual meaning, but the failure to do so inhibits their biological development and keeps them from flourishing.
"When more than half of our children are spending all or part of their childhood and adolescence in single-parent families, we are diminishing the environment that directly affects their neurological development, and therefore their future capacity to establish close, interpersonal relationships," Land continued.
"The report observed in 2003 that the weakening of social institutions in the U.S. that fostered these two kinds of connectedness [relationships with people and God] has led to our current crisis of neglected children in adolescence.
"I don't think you can read the results of this report and not come to the conclusion that we have been engaging in collective societal child abuse in our culture. And we all have some degree of responsibility; either by acquiescing to the peer pressure of society or by being cowed into silence by the politically correct class who are experts at bullying."