Current events in the last several weeks in the U.S. and abroad, but especially in our nation, have been dramatic enough for some Christian leaders to warn that a course correction for the Church is needed.
But are there enough pastors and influencers in the community of believers speaking publicly about this apparent accelerated ride toward the irrelevance of Christians in America?
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is speaking in truth and not holding back. Rodriguez, a husband, father, pastor, writer, and someone CNN and Fox named the leader of the Hispanic evangelical movement, lives to "advance the Lamb's agenda" and warn about the country's move away from morality.
"To engage a biblical narrative as a metaphor, as Christians, as it pertains to cultural acceptance and governmental affirmation, we no longer live in Jerusalem; we now live in Babylon," Rodriguez explains. "We live in the midst of opposition and hostility. We live in the midst of threats and persecution."
While his sermon as a guest at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, last weekend for worship services is primarily of the evangelistic variety, he told this reporter on Friday that he has been traveling around the country to share how silence is not an option for Christians. He further explained how "today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity."
"As a nation we have never been under the canopy of darkness that we presently find ourselves. In the past six weeks it has been almost surreal," Rodriguez said. "It goes beyond [the Supreme Court]. Yes, SCOTUS redefining marriage; yes, the subsequent attacks on religious liberty; yes, Planned Parenthood and the video of selling of baby parts, you name it, it's almost surreal.
"It's almost eerie and apocalyptic. ... It's almost to the point where people don't want to turn on the television set if you're a Christ follower. ... We can't be silent about issues that impact Christiandom. ... We need to speak truth with love."
If a state of Babylon is not evident now for some, it will be in a matter of just a year or two, according to Rodriguez.
"The church will become a marginalized religious threat in America — irrelevant, no longer prophetic. And we will be satisfied having gatherings in a self-preservation society sort of modus operandi and no longer relevant for speaking into the corporate sphere or the culture or society," he said.
"The church will be marginalized to a great degree, if not persecuted; we will be under the threat of persecution, and that's the reality. This is what will happen if Christians continue to acquiesce, if we continue to ignore the fact that elections have consequences — that it's not about politics. As a Christian we have a moral responsibility to vote by biblical worldviews."
Unfortunately, he added, the church in America has never been more passive, more complacent, and more politically correct than now.
"There are two reasons why Christian leaders or the pastors would be silent, theologically speaking: sin and fear," Rodriguez said. "Whenever there is sin, because we lack the moral imperative or authority, we are quiet. Sin removes or dilutes or hinders any sort of moral authority. And the other thing is that there's fear of losing followers, fear of losing income, fear of attracting negative media, being called names."
He continued, "We can't drink the Kool-Aid that it's all love. We can love people to Hell if we don't share truth."
Rodriguez calls out the church for what he labels "This sort of hippie-ish, 1960s motif. This is not Berkley, and this whole sort of collective Berkley church marijuana smoking, pass one, let's just be happy, up, up and away, you know, in that beautiful balloon … that's not the Gospel. The Gospel is truth with love."
He said, instead, he believes people are looking for the truth with love.
"It's not Westboro Baptist Church (interpretation of the Gospel in action). It's not that. That's not the Kingdom, that's not the Body, it's not loving, it's not even part of our narrative or our language. But it's never sacrificing truth on the altar of cultural, political, or sexual expediency. Right now we (the church in America) care more about being liked than about being right."
In his sermon notes from this year's Hispanic Baptist Convention in Austin, Texas, Rodriguez wrote:
In 1917 Communist officials declared in St. Petersburg, Russia, that by the 21st century the entire world would embrace Communism, and the Christian faith would cease to exist. In the 1930s the Nazi regime declared that they would outlast the followers of Jesus. In the 1960s, rock musicians — "We're more popular than Jesus now" — boasted that by the turn of the century they would receive more praise and adulation than the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost combined.
We are well into the 21st century. Lenin is entombed; the Third Reich is dead; The Beatles are gone, but the church of Jesus Christ is still alive and well! Why do we continue to grow, even in the midst of adversity and persecution? Simply stated, we thrive because we are centered. We are centered in a way no other movement can be. We have Christ as the center of our church.
Accordingly, the only agenda that can save America stems not from the donkey or the elephant, from the left or the right. But rather, the only agenda that can save our nation is none other than the agenda of the Lamb.
For the Agenda of the Lamb to go forward, we must secure the centrality of Christ. This we must do deliberately and consistently. On that first Good Friday the cross of Christ stood high on Calvary, visible to all coming and going — inescapable, central. Jesus was not then and cannot be now on the periphery. Jesus is always central.
And in regards the current state of affairs in America, Rodriguez added: "When light stands next to darkness, light always wins."