Will We Lose the Culture War?

  Have we lost the culture war? Many evangelicals seem to think so. Despite our best efforts, public morality is declining, while divorce,homosexuality, and abortion are continuing to rise. Or are they? The surprising news is that recent polls indicate a turn-around. An article in National Review reveals that, since 1981 the divorce rate is down 19 percent; since 1994 the birth rate for unmarried teens is down 7.5 percent; since 1990 abortion is down 15.3 percent; and since 1993 there's been a whopping 37 percent decrease in people on welfare. Even crime is down, despite a surge of teens in the crime-prone years. What's more, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll uncovered a startling change in attitudes: 84 percent of self-described conservatives say what's "important for society" today is to "promote respect for traditional values." Even more surprisingly, 33 percent of liberals agree. People are finally realizing that the dominant worldviews fail to provide a basis for a safe and stable public order. This represents a tremendous opportunity for Christians. Our culture is embroiled in nothing less than a clash of worldviews, and Christians must stop focusing on social issues one at a time. Instead, we must delve beneath the surface and identify the underlying principles, the broad worldviews, that give rise to social problems in the first place. Otherwise, we may win a few battles, but still lose the war. Samuel Huntington of Harvard has said the world is divided not so much by geographical boundaries as by differences in ultimate beliefs-in worldviews. He is absolutely right. The task for us is to identify those worldviews, and to demontrate that the Christian worldview is the only one that can be rationally defended. Robert George of Princeton is a wonderful model. Last year Professor George debated abortion at a Convention of the American Political Science Association. His opponent was well-known deconstructionist Stanley Fish. In published articles, Fish had dismissed arguments AGAINST abortion as based on "religious conviction" alone, while suggesting that the case FOR abortion is based on "scientific facts." But George argued that, on the contrary, what science supports is the pro-life view, by demonstrating that the fetus is fully human. Sonogram pictures show the unborn child responding to stimuli, and doctors are performing surgery on babies in the womb. Today the pro-life position can be supported by empirical evidence that is accessible to everyone. Before the convention, George sent his paper to Stanley Fish, and when the debate opened, Fish shocked the assembled professors by throwing his paper on the table and announcing, "Professor George is right, and he is right to correct me. Today the prolife position is supported by scientific evidence." The audience sat in stunned silence. Christianity cannot be dismissed as merely a private religious experience. Instead, it is the truth about all reality. And it can be supported by rational, empirical evidence open to everyone. That's why every Christian must learn to be an apologist, capable of comparing worldviews and discerning which are true and false. You will find the conceptual tools you need in How Now Shall We Live?, a new book I have co-authored with Nancy Pearcey. Each of us must learn how to present Christianity as a worldview, supported by reason and evidence. And when we do, we'll discover that we can indeed win the culture war.


Chuck Colson



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