Historian Will Durant, July 16 2009


Keeping the Faith in A Faithless Age: the Church as a Moral Minority


"The greatest question of our time," offered historian Will Durant, "is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God." That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.


For centuries the Christian church has been the center of Western civilization. Western culture, government, law, and society were based on explicitly Christian principles. Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, and respect for the good, the beautiful, and the true-all of these grew out of Christian convictions and the influence of revealed religion.


All of these, we now hasten to add, are under serious attack. The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society. Where it is not discarded, it is often debased. Taking a page out of Alice in Wonderland, modern secularists simply declare wrong, right, and right, wrong.


Quaker theologian D. Elton Trueblood once described America as a "cut flower civilization." Our culture, he argued, is cut off from its Christian roots like a flower cut at the stem. Though the flower will hold its beauty for a time, it is destined to wither and die.


When Trueblood spoke those words over two decades ago, the flower could still be seen with some color and signs of life. But the blossom has long since lost its vitality, and it is time for the fallen petals to be acknowledged.


"When God is dead," argued Dostoyevsky, "anything is permissible." The permissiveness of modern American society can scarcely be exaggerated, but it can be traced directly to the fact that modern men and women act as if God does not exist, or is powerless to accomplish His will.


The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism.


The daily newspaper brings a constant barrage which confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good.

The faithful church is, for the most part, tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only so long as it does not attempt to exercise any credible influence on the state of affairs. Should the church speak forcefully to an issue of public debate, it is castigated as coercive and out of date.


How does the church think of itself as it faces this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as the vanguard of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of the past decade.

Little progress toward the re-establishment of a moral center of gravity can be detected. Instead, the culture has moved swiftly toward a more complete abandonment of all moral conviction.


The confessing church must now be willing to be a moral minority, if that is what the times demands. The church has no right to follow the secular siren call toward moral revisionism and politically correct positions on the issues of the day.


Whatever the issue, the church must speak as the church-that is, as the community of fallen but redeemed, who stand under divine authority. The concern of the church is not to know its own mind, but to know and follow the mind of God. The church’s convictions must not emerge from the ashes of our own fallen wisdom, but from the authoritative Word of God which reveals the wisdom of God and His commands.


The church is to be a community of character. The character produced by a people who stand under the authority of the Sovereign God of the universe will inevitably be at odds with a culture of unbelief.


The American church is faced with a new situation. This new context is as current as the morning newspaper and as old as those first Christian churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Laodicea, and Rome. Eternity will record whether or not the American church is willing to submit only to the authority of God; or whether the church will forfeit its calling in order to serve lesser gods.

The church must awaken to its status as a moral minority and hold fast to the gospel we have been entrusted to preach. In so doing, the deep springs of permanent truth will reveal the church to be a life-giving oasis amidst American’s moral desert.


This article was originally published July 16, 2009.


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Why is the Book of Genesis important for us to study today?


  Genesis is important for us today, for without this important book we would have no true understanding or knowledge of how it all began. The question is not really why... but, in actuality, it is about the "Who."  For the sake of distinction, we will contend that God is the beginning of all things.  Because of Him and through him we have the origin of our world, as God's very good creation, which is marred by human sinfulness. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth".... and only confusion for all people would be the end result without this divine book, of beginnings.

  

  In the beginning chapters we are given an account (explanation) of how the relationship/unity between God and humanity was severed, or how the relationship between the Creator and the creation was divided, and how a sovereign and merciful God had set in place plans for the redemption of the whole world from the power of Satan. 


  The first chapter begins with the creation of human beings made in God's image (Gen.1:26). God extended His rule over the earth to them and for them to be fruitful and to multiply. God gave them authority to rule over other creatures as well. The following chapter, God gives a  specific command not to eat from the fruit of the tree of good and evil which is in the midst of the garden...For on that day they do, they shall surely die (Gen.2:16,17).  As we know, Adam and Eve were persuaded by a serpent to disobey God. Their consequences are catastrophic and will become the devastation of the entire world.   Without these faithful records it would be erroneous for us  to correctly understand our own time? In punishing Adam and Eve, God in His mercy promises to send a descendant through the woman who will overcome the serpent. 


  By Cain murdering his brother Abel, we are on the verge of how evil took hold on the world, and that it will not be easily loosened (Gen.4). Human depravity is viral and consuming all humanity (Gen.6)... With the exception of Noah and his family, humanity is destroyed (Gen.7-11). 


  God in his sovereign wisdom and power had chose the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by promising to send, through them, a future descendant who would mediate God's blessings of saving grace to the nations of the world. (Gen.12:1-3; 13:14-17;17:1-8; 26:2-6; 28:10-15)


  God in his sovereign mercy, had used Judah's ungodliness against Tamar, including her deceptiveness to advance the Messianic line (Gen.38). God was over-writing the customs, by repeatedly choosing the younger, not the older, (Jacob and Esau, ... Ephraim and Manasseh, ...) to inherit the birthright of the firstborn and with this the power to mediate blessings to others (Gen.25:23).


  God inclined the heart of His people to trust His promises and to obey His commands. Abraham looked to God to give him innumerable offspring, and God counted that to him as righteousness (Gen.15:6). Jacob was renamed "Israel", meaning Clinging only to God (Gen.32). Judah sold his younger brother Joseph as a slave (Gen.37:26,27). What his brothers meant for evil, God was turning it into good. Joseph's trust and faithfulness in God, especially during his very difficult times as a slave, brought great good out of his brothers sins by unconditionally forgiving them. (Gen.45:4-8; 50:24).         


  What was lost in the first Adam, God restored forever by the second Adam, Christ Jesus. The genealogy begun in (Gen.5) and advanced in (Gen.11) and is completed with the birth of Jesus Christ (Matt.1, Luke 3:23-27). Christ is that ultimate offspring promised to Abraham (Gen.22:18, Gal.3:16). Therefore, all who are united to Jesus Christ by faith are Abraham's descendants (Gal.3:26-29). In the Book of Genesis we have the wonderful history that God is leading the believers to eternal rest in Christ Jesus the Lord. The unified history of the whole Bible certifies that the focus of Genesis is Christ.   


Without this amazing book we would not understand God's plan for redemption. Therefore, Genesis is vital for any faithful disciple of Christ to correctly give an account of the whole council of God's holy Word in a time of great unbelief and ungodliness. 


 Pastor Karl Mantl


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