Friday, April 24, 2009

The End of Christian America?

The April 13th issue of Newsweek featured a cover with the blaring headline: “The End of Christian America.” The title was not a question but a declaration. A subheading for the story stated, “The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades.”

An old axiom reminds us that he who defines the terms wins the debate. Whether the article represents reality is entirely predicated upon how one understands the descriptive “Christian nation.” If the predominant religious make-up of a nation determines its label, then assuredly we remain a Christian nation.

76% of Americans still identify themselves as Christians, rendering comparatively insignificant the 1.2% Jewish and 0.6 % Muslim segments. India’s identity as a Hindu nation is never questioned, despite Hindus comprising just over 80% of the population.

One cannot escape the sense that Newsweek made its case with some relish. Indeed, many in the secular media choose to portray conservative Christians as being out-of-touch with the sophisticated worldview of 21st century humanity, one which assumes that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Christianity’s exclusive claims are abhorrent to those who relativize all beliefs and lifestyles.

There is no denying that the influence of the Christian worldview, so formative in the founding of our nation, has been in decline. If present patterns continue, we will follow in the footsteps of Western Europe where Christianity has dwindled to merely a sideshow to the dominant secularism.

But the sleeping giant of American Christianity is slowly awakening. The theme for a major national conference this summer is “The Great Reversal: How Christians Will Change the Future”—the third such annual event in this series (see Despite the prognosis that the impact of Christianity in the U.S. has been relegated to the dustbin of history, a groundswell of revival is calling our nation back to her spiritual roots. It remains but wishful thinking for the enemies of the faith to declare the era of Christian influence in America over.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Superior Weaponry

The nations of the world are in a ceaseless struggle to achieve military strength and ultimately superiority. Nearly every day we hear news of some nation testing a new missile or another pursuing nuclear weapons. The U.S. has followed a doctrine of peace through strength, of achieving overwhelming military dominance, thereby deterring others from taking offensive action against us.

The Bible speaks to the role of superior weaponry in the familiar story of David vs. Goliath. The shepherd boy defeated the veteran warrior--not through an overwhelming display of strength but because of his unwavering confidence that God’s power would bring him victory.

As the Israeli army quaked in fear with their impotent king, David answers Goliath’s defiant words with the following: “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

A timeless lesson from this story is that the Almighty is not limited to human firepower in granting victory. Goliath fell because God inspired a boy to trust him and guided his sling-impelled stone to its deadly mark.

Today in America we face giant challenges to our moral and economic integrity. The circumstances appear to be so overwhelming that there is little we can do but submit. Despair can be immobilizing, the apparent disparity of strength paralyzing.

But we who know God must remember the lesson of David. The Lord delights in using the efforts of the weak and “outgunned” so that His name and power are justly honored when deliverance comes. Let us be encouraged to step out in faith and take action to resist the will of the “giants” in our land. The battle is not lost. Rather, it is time for the people of God to rise to the occasion and recognize that ultimately His power will prevail.

This ancient story does not teach pacifism. Instead, faithful men are called to utilize whatever means at their disposal, recognizing that victory ultimately comes through divine intervention.