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America’s cultural shock waves keep coming

Elizabeth Johnston
Christian activist Elizabeth Johnston speaks at a rally in Ohio, Feb. 26, 2018. |

The proposed new sex curriculum came to a showdown vote in Austin, Texas, on Monday night, October 28. Students in the Austin Independent School District will be learning about gender identity, LGBTQ identities and families, among other things. A spokesperson for Texas Values said, “Tonight’s vote by the Austin ISD Board sends a clear message: people of faith and traditional moral values are not welcome in Austin ISD.”

This hyper-sexualized education agenda is just a ripple in the larger context of cultural shock waves that have hit America in recent decades. Before looking forward, let’s look back.

Cultural Shock Waves in America

The Origin of Species written and published by Charles Darwin in 1859 was a major shock to the system within Evangelical congregations. Darwin’s evolutionary theory argued that natural selection was the driving mechanism (not supernatural causes i.e. God) causing species to adapt, change, survive, and evolve. Ultimately, this naturalistic view seeks to explain the evolution of mankind from a lower form to a higher primate. The existence of God is left out of this system of thought. Evangelicals have been in a defensive posture ever since.   

Big City Industrialization

The second big shock wave to American Evangelicalism was the industrialization of American society. With this came a move from family-owned farms to factories in larger cities. As people moved from rural areas to the cities, they found competition for those jobs from newly arrived European immigrants. These newcomers from Germany, Italy, Ireland, Norway, and others helped stir a new religious mix, as Catholicism was the traditional religion of many immigrants.   

Higher Criticism Hits Our Shores

Higher Criticism of the sacred Scriptures was the third shock wave hitting American shores. German theologians with a bias toward the supernatural were very influential in this movement. With many seminary and college professors seeking educational degrees from European universities in the late 1800’s, critical views of the Bible were accepted and found root in American institutions of higher learning. This corresponded with a desire for more professional clergy in city churches. Higher educational degrees were expected.

What does a pastor-theologian do when he accepts critical theories about the origin of the Scriptures and discovers those theories are in contradiction to the claims of Scripture itself? Teaching that Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) and that Jesus is not the Son of the living God is unsettling to a young Bible-believing seminarian. Many walked away from this sterile religiosity. Many vibrant congregations waned or wandered.

The Big Wave of Cultural Marxism    

We simply cannot understand the contemporary culture war in America without understanding the invasive philosophy of Cultural Marxism. This includes a cabal of constructs know as: Critical theory, multiculturalism, political correctness, intersectionality, identity politics, white privilege, critical race theory, etc.  Fleeing Hitler’s Germany before and during WWII, a group of German philosophers and educators planted the seeds of this ideology into our American university system.

New meanings and definitions would be given to language, history, and social theory as this new agenda to radically transform America was launched. In identifying the cultural hegemony or power structure, the white heterosexual male, Christian, able-bodied, native born, capitalist, working family man was considered the ruling majority and everyone else would be deemed a minority group. 

Politicians, professors, activists and community organizers found power and social traction in organizing and promising each minority group certain rights, privileges, benefits, etc. They knew it would be a long road as cultural change worked its way through the institutions of government, education, corporations, sports, music, entertainment, movies, etc.    

In deconstructing America from a capitalistic free market economy and Judeo-Christian moral foundation, the virtues and values that made America strong must be attacked, eroded, shamed, and destroyed. The new storytellers of change must lift high the “oppressed” and decry the “oppressors.” Nagging new narratives must grate and goad thus promoting change. Progressive theologians and pastors must continue to blur the Bible, thereby adding to moral confusion. Universities must churn out revolutionaries and reactionaries—even those willing to use deception and violence. The willing media must help make “examples” of hypocrites, racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, etc. An undercurrent of fear prevents patriotic, religious, and traditionally minded people from speaking out and standing up.

The Outcome and Answer   

Wherever the disruptive ideology relating to Marxism has found root only suffering, chaos and carnage is left in the wake of that wave. Socialism’s totalitarian control has been the biggest producer of poverty in human history. Its promise of “equality” has resulted in average citizens being equal in their poverty while the ruling class enjoys power, position, and prosperity. In the 20th century alone, 150 million people have been killed as a result of this ideology. 

Good theology is the answer to bad ideology! The Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change one individual’s heart at a time. It changed the heart of William Wilberforce (1759-1833) who led a movement to rid England of slavery, and it crossed the ocean to America.   

David Hacker, a demographic historian, has new digitized census data research indicating that between 750,000 and upwards of 850,000 men may have died in the America civil war. America paid a heavy price for the sin of slavery!

The Gospel teaches that:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

This is our only hope!

© Ron F. Hale, Nov. 1, 2019     

Ron F. Hale has served as SBC pastor, denominational leader, and religion writer. He serves on the Southern Baptist Executive Committee in Nashville and interim pastor in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee.

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