Understanding the Enemy in Today’s Culture Wars


Bill Muehlenberg yesterday reminded us of J. Gresham Machen’s fight in the culture wars of his day, the early 20th century (‘Notable Christians: J. Gresham Machen,’ Culture Watch (August 28, 2018 on the net at: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/08/28/notable-christians-j-gresham-machen/).  Machen’s battle was not just with the culture but with the culture in the Church–in the Presbyterian Church of his day.  In his short life (1881-1937), Machen began a seminary (Westminster Theological Seminary), a new, Presbyterian denomination (Orthodox Presbyterian Church), and a mission board.

Machen’s function reminds me of how substantial the Evangelical tent has been–his Orthodox Presbyterian planet is really distant from my personal engagement with the Evangelical movement.  However his assessment of the challenge of his day with mainline denominations was spot on.  Evangelicals, for all their variations and in all their varieties, coalesce about their agreement that Scripture wins each and every argument with culture.  Muehlenberg quotes Machen’s understanding of the battle line with Liberalism in the Church in Christianity and Liberalism (1923).  The situation was ‘naturalism’:

‘In the sphere of religion, in unique, the present time is a time of conflict the terrific redemptive religion which has usually been recognized as Christianity is battling against a entirely diverse form of religious belief, which is only the far more destructive of the Christian faith for the reason that it tends to make use of conventional Christian terminology. This contemporary non-redemptive religion is referred to as ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’…. But manifold as are the types in which the movement seems, the root of the movement is a single the a lot of varieties of contemporary liberal religion are rooted in naturalism, that is, in the denial of any entrance of the inventive energy of God.

[W]hat the liberal theologian has retained immediately after abandoning to the enemy a single Christian doctrine immediately after a different is not Christianity at all, but a religion which is so completely diverse from Christianity as to belong in a distinct category.’

This quote caught my interest.  I have argued that the situation we now face in the culture wars of the West is anti-naturalism (see Rollin Grams, ‘The Anti-Naturalism of Western Culture’ (two February, 2018) out there at: https://bibleandmission.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-anti-naturalism-of-western-culture.html).  This anti-naturalism seems in numerous types as culture rejects the constraints of a Creator and seeks to construct its personal, ‘against nature’ planet.  The Liberalism of Machen’s day believed in nature it just spoke of nature devoid of needing the ‘construct’ of ‘God’.  (God, like religion in basic, was noticed as a human building.)  Evolution, e.g., is nevertheless a all-natural and scientific theory even if its most widespread type rejects the Creator.  Christians could at least dialogue with Modernity with regards to the theory of Evolution in that each believed in all-natural order.  The dispute was more than regardless of whether the order in creation entails intentionality (was triggered by a Creator) and an open method of trigger and impact (that God worked miracles in His planet), or that it entails adaptation (mutations) and a closed method of trigger and impact (that there is no external force in the universe).

Nowadays, nevertheless, the debate with culture, a culture that has also entered and taken more than the mainline denominations, is in between nature and against nature (a rebours, as Joris-Karl Huysmans termed it in his 1884 novel rejecting 19th-century Naturalism).  Greek philosophy and culture in antiquity (especially Stoicism and Cynicism) also engaged with this viewpoint–it is not new.  Each philosophical views presented strategies to reside in accordance with nature more than against human constructions of reality.  The language of ‘according to nature’ and ‘against nature’ was routinely employed by Stoics such as Epictetus.  Paul, in reality, makes use of this regular language from his culture when speaking of lesbianism as ‘against nature’ (Romans 1.26).  Certainly, a single principal instance of constructing an ‘against nature’ planet in ancient and contemporary instances is the so-referred to as LGBT movement. 

One particular terribly sad instance of how this attack on nature plays out is in its attack on youngsters, the item of nature.  Unable to generate youngsters of their personal naturally, this movement closes down adoption agencies that only location youngsters in heterosexual households, removes foster youngsters from households if they hold standard views on biology, makes use of the unnatural approach of surrogacy to generate youngsters for itself, corrupts youngsters in college systems, encourages anti-all-natural gender identity more than against biology, provides sex modify surgery and drug therapy, inisists on employing restrooms according to how a single identifies, not how a single is produced biologically, and on the list of ‘against nature’ examples goes on just this situation alone.  Take a closer appear at 4 examples of anti-naturalism that have an effect on youngsters. 

1. Trans Referrals

Scotland: In Scotland, 222 youngsters had been referred to specialist solutions more than transsexual identity in 2017, up 21% from 2016.  The typical age is just below 14 years old, and the youngest was only six years old.  The Scottish government is taking into consideration lowering the age for sex modify operations from 18 to 16.  Its guidance to schools is that youngsters ‘should be supported to discover and express their identity regardless of their age.’  Furthermore, as socialist states at some point do, they seek to transfer parental rights (which are all-natural) to state rights (which are a constructed authority).  They say that parents must not be told if their youngsters are sharing rooms with youngsters of the opposite sex on college trips, for instance.  (See ‘Trans referrals of youngsters reaches record higher in Scotland,’ Christian Institute (11 July, 2018) on the net: https://www.christian.org.uk/news/trans-referrals-youngsters-reaches-record-higher-scotland/).
two. Minor-Attracted Persons (MAPs)
One particular function of a culture that rejects nature and argues rather for constructed realities is that it to construct these realities on some foundation.  This is problematic, due to the fact the postmodern view is anti-foundational.  The answer in the West has been to find the foundation of constructed realities in tribalism, that is, the privileges of a single tribe more than a different.  This Western tribalism assigns privilege to persons granted ‘victim’ status.  In this post-foundational logic, pedophiles might be granted the status of a victimized minority group deserving public sympathy.  Their passions and actions can not be regarded as unnatural or against God’s Law, due to the fact nature and the Creator have been rejected.  Orientation is just a provided, nevertheless a single comes by it, and the far more that one’s orientation is diverse, the far more a single qualifies for victimhood status.
Gene editing is now probable, such as ‘molecular scissors’ gene editing by ‘crispr’.  It might quickly be acceptable practice.  Will it turn out to be anticipated or even necessary in the future and, if so, will it imply that persons with difficulties that may well have been edited but had been not will be discriminated against?  Presently in the UK, 90% of Downs Syndrome embryos are terminated.  Are we getting into the planet of eugenics?  Gene editing will be hereditary: a permanent alteration.  The Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCB) has answered that modifications must meet two tests: (1) it must advantage the future individual whose DNA would be impacted (two) it must not ‘increase disadvantage, discrimination or division in society’.  (See: Alex Matthews-King, ‘Designer babies: Choosing traits for non-health-related causes could be ‘morally permissible’, says UK ethics group,’ Independent (16 July, 2018) on the net: https://anglicanmainstream.org/designer-babies-selecting-traits-for-non-health-related-causes-could-be-morally-permissible-says-uk-ethics-group/.)  It is tough to visualize, nevertheless, in an anti-naturalist cultural context, that disadvantage, discrimination, and division in society will be avoided when religious views that affirm nature, even a Creator, are viewed negatively.

four. 3-Parent In Vitro-Fertilization (IVF)

Proponents of 3-parent in vitro-fertilization are attempting to modify the terminology to ‘mitochondrial DNA transplants’ to make it far more acceptable.  Defective mitochondrial DNA can be replaced by a different woman’s mtDNA.  This can be accomplished in 4 strategies, particularly by spindle transfer (MST) and pronuclear transfer (PNT).  Some defective mtDNA remains, but in the case of the latter approach, two embryos are developed with eggs from two girls and the father’s sperm.  One particular of the embryos is destroyed.  Some opposed to abortion may well think about mtDNA if all embryos developed in the process are implanted.  However, from an ‘according to nature’ viewpoint, this unnatural type of procreation is morally repugnant.

Given that the debate of nature and against nature views was currently an situation in the public square of ancient Greece, that there is a minority group pushing an anti-all-natural agenda in our day must come as no surprise.  The distinction in our day is that Christianity has no philosophical ally in affirming nature.  Not only so, but mainline denominations that have capitulated to culture, as in Machen’s day, have adopted anti-all-natural views, especially in regard to human sexuality. The culture has adopted particular assumptions that make arguments from nature tough to place forward.  Western culture (postmodernism) has so imbibed an anti-all-natural stance that it appears logical and moral to be against nature or, at least, to defend any behaviour against nature as acceptable, even laudable.  When the dominant worth in a culture is liberation, nature is at some point viewed as an autocratic authority that need to be overcome.  

What we will need to recognize is that, though the mainline denominations started their liberal slide with a naturalist agenda, they are continuing it with an anti-naturalist agenda.  Religious liberalism in Machen’s day promoted naturalism, but it has evolved in an anti-all-natural liberalism in our day.  Each types are examples of Christianity getting conformed to secular culture rather of Christian faith.  The enemy of the Church in a post-Christian culture has roamed freely in mainline denominations, 1st in the shape of naturalism and now in the type of anti-naturalism.  The missional challenge to Christians in the West has been and continues to be to articulate Christian belief in compelling strategies to a culture constructed devoid of God.  We commence to do so as we confess with Christians of old, that we ‘believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth’ (Apostles Creed).


Latest posts