My previous post includes a talk by Billy Abraham in which he describes of four changes in Western culture that challenge the church:
- Changes to the meaning of marriage, which he connects to deeper issues around the praise of sensuality.
- The decline of Protestantism, which he connects to the failure to pass the faith down from generation to generation.
- The rise of secularism and aggressive, evangelistic atheism.
- The growing presence of Islam.
Abraham does not argue these are all arising from the same cause, but does argue that the church needs to have responses to these trends that help people in the pews understand who they are in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how they are to preserve that identity in a changing world.
I fully understand that some people will not agree that these four changes are the most important ways the culture is changing. But I do find myself trying to articulate a way that the church can respond to these changes that speaks to all the changes not just one. For instance, how does our response to Islam (and religious pluralism in general?) provide us the tools to respond to secularism and aggressive forms of atheism? Or does our response to Islam leave us less able to respond well to the challenge of growing secularism? How do we recoup from our failures to hand down the faith across generations (see Kenda Creasy Dean’s excellent book for more on this) in ways that give us tools that speak to the other changes in the culture as well?
It does seem as if we tend to respond to various trends and movements in the culture in an ad hoc way. We focus on one or the other presenting problem that the culture throws up for the church. What would a coherent and comprehensive response to the culture in which we are located look like?