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Beyond Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or Battlefield? Hardcover – May 10, 1994
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Thesis: Modern Christendom's fascination with politics (public morality), pop-psychology, and marketing-secular methods-comes at the expense of orthodoxy, spirituality, and our witness. The church needs to return to the Gospel and doctrine, to deal with our own sins first, to look at the church before we condemn the culture.
According to Horton, the book was written because: "The church is no longer pursuing its authentic mission, generally speaking, and ministers are supposed to ring the bell when that happens."
Politically, we have become "one more minority group demanding its rights." Spiritually, "we have made it clear that we do not stand in the tradition founded by our Lord, the `friend of sinners.' " Culturally, our hostile rhetoric has brought us to the point that "our involvement is purely negative."
Horton identifies as his thesis: "Theology, not morality, is the first business on the church's agenda of reform, and the church, not society, is the first target of divine criticism."
--Have we made a compelling case? Are the pagans even aware of what they are rejecting? What separates evangelicals from the world today very often is not doctrine . . . but style, extrabiblical codes of behavior, lingo, and in-house spirituality.
--If "Judeo-Christian" means not handing out condoms, it is reduced to the trivial and, ironically, anything meaningful it may have to say about condom distribution is disregarded because it is not taken seriously. Christianity is a religion, a theological confession first and a moral system only secondarily.
--It is time for judgment to begin in God's house and God's invitation to peace and forgiveness to be extended to the world. As it is, the order is reversed. . . . We must put our own houses in order, so that the offense is in the message and not in the messengers.
--We ought not to be surprised that everything is being questioned in the realm of morality, since there is no longer any theological infrastructure undergirding it. Liberals attacked orthodox theology, while conservatives largely ignored it, so what more could we expect? This generation is simply riding on fumes. We cannot expect people to accept Christian morality if they are not at least intellectually persuaded by Christian truth.
--Those who do not know what it is that shapes the worldview of their time and place will not be able to resist its lies.
--We are offensive for all the wrong reasons while we remove the offense of the cross. Those who are committed to immoral lifestyles will not give us a hearing for the Gospel-not because of the Gospel itself, but because we have made it clear that we do not stand in the tradition founded by our Lord, the "friend of sinners."
--The glory has left the church because the Gospel has left the church-or has been dismissed. It is not because God has been "ejected" from the public schools, but because His name, His kingdom, His power, and His glory have been replaced with our own agendas, priorities, goals, and self-glorifying interests in the church.
--We cannot preach that Americans are basically good people who need a moral environment, that self-esteem and self-fulfillment are legitimate Christian obsessions, and a host of other modern heresies and then condemn "secularism."
--We must recover the art of persuasion. The reason that America is so secularized today is not because of public policy, but because of public belief. We must win arguments, not just cases. We must be willing and ready to give an answer as never before, and this means we will have to become better listeners-humbler and more (dare I use this much-abused term?) tolerant of other people's points of view. We do not have to agree, but we do have to understand; otherwise, there can be no persuasion.
--Ironically, we rail against religious pluralism while we push for prayer in the schools, no matter the religion or object of faith . . . evangelical Christianity has just become one more voting bloc asserting its political rights, along with other special interest groups. Unlike the early Christians, who grounded their mission in specific truth claims, we argue for dominance on the basis of (a) seniority (i.e., the precedent of the founding fathers) and (b) pragmatism (i.e., the moral and civic usefulness of Christian morality). . . . We should follow the example of those first Christians by arguing our case, not as a program of moral improvement or national salvation, but as the truth about God and humanity.
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It is my concern that Horton's main point is criticizing the religious right and...Read more