For its entire existence, authentic Christianity has been marginalized. We shouldn’t pretend that our current experience is a new one. It’s simply the modern (and very Western) expression of what has transpired within Christendom for 2000 years. But, we are most certainly “Western”. And, like those in every era before us, our experience is unique.
There is history here. The Scopes Trial of 1925 might be a good reference point. Then the 60’s happened, and then Roe vs. Wade. With particular emphasis on that last item, we can trace a rising public tide in opposition to Evangelical Christianity. For 45 years, many within the Church have rightly denounced abortion as one of the great evils of our time. Since many Progressives (even in the Church) see abortion rights as sacrosanct, their rhetoric against those who oppose those rights has steadily increased. And, this has provided a convenient spring-board into other points of cultural disagreement which can be exploited. This serves to push historically-minded Believers ever further into the margins.
The West has been culturally programmed to believe that Progressive thinking is pure and in-keeping with Democratic ideals. We’re taught that anyone opposing Progressivism is neanderthal, and that Tolerance is among the chief aims of the Western mind…. so long as it doesn’t include anything with which the Left disagrees. The primary enemy is anything resembling Conservatism. THAT, of course, shouldn’t be tolerated.
Those labels have traditionally been used to describe politics. But, they now accurately portray the disparate theological paradigms within the Church, and they generally coincide with one’s political persuasion. Stated differently, the labels have become somewhat interchangeable in their application to the political and the religious.
One could say that those with a Conservative worldview have simply attempted to maintain historical orthodoxy (first theologically, and then in the public square). Nonetheless, the Left has done a good job of convincing the culture that the Right is evil. And, in many circles, the Church has now fallen prey to that view. There are multiple Christian authors / bloggers (Rachel Held Evans, John Pavlovitz, Jen Hatmaker, Nadia Bolz-Weber, etc.) all decrying the evils of Conservatism, both in the political and religious sense. But, what they are criticizing is a caricature. They rightly decry the Prosperity Gospel, but then seem to equate all of Western Christendom with it (and then delve further into the domain of opinion and preference, often utilizing a novel interpretation of Biblical principle as their source, on topics too numerous to tackle here). They have grown up in a world where anything historically orthodox or "pre-modern" is deemed archaic and wrong-headed, and they’ve now superimposed that view onto Evangelicalism. As a result, they are arbitrarily deconstructing the very thing they claim to represent. They are creating a god in their own image - one that is safe, that everyone will like, and that will require them to take no culturally unpopular positions.
And, they seem pretty angry. They reveal in themselves a refusal to submit to anything beyond their own agendas, most of which are dictated by the culture in which they reside. A God that requires submission on terms other than their own is unacceptable and petty to them, as they seem to prize control over all else.
Yet, they simultaneously lay claim to the Christ who selflessly relinquished control to the point of a horrific death on a Cross, in order to pay the penalty for their egregious hubris. THAT brand of submission resonates with them…. so long as they don’t have to mimic it.
Their arrogance has led them to believe that our generation has somehow arrived at “the ultimate historic moment” (to rob from Tim Keller) - that God has decided WE are the chosen ones to whom He is finally revealing the whole Truth (as if the apostles and martyrs before us were utterly blind). They argue against a small grain of truth, and then extrapolate it into a narrative wherein the majority of historical, orthodox Christian thought needs to be seen as abusive.
And, in so doing, they defeat significant facets of their own argument. They reveal that they are neither tolerant, nor Christian (at least in the historical sense of the term).
But, because of our cultural deference to that mindset, many contemporary Christians are blindly falling for it, assuming that anyone who opposes abortion, embraces traditional sex ethics, or understands the need for a national border must be profoundly at odds with Biblical Christianity.
Oddly, one of the catalysts for Leftism within the Church was an irritation with Conservatives and their involvement in the political realm. We’re now seeing the precise opposite happening, but few seem to notice the irony. If it is wrong for the Right to be politically involved, I wonder why it’s okay for the Left.
I concede the principle of “eating the meat, and spitting out the bones”. And, in that vein, there are certainly a handful of criticisms coming from the Left that Conservatives need to hear. But, when the onion is peeled, the motives for said criticisms become highly suspect. Thus, Believers who fully embrace and advertise Progressivism may not fully understand what they’re doing.
We should remember that the most effective kind of lie is the one that is peppered with some truth. Because of our current lack of Biblical literacy within the Church, we often have a hard time seeing the lie coldly staring us in the face.
And, in that inability to discern Truth from error, we give airtime to those who are consistently antagonistic to historical orthodoxy. We do it because they are culturally relevant. They make us feel good, and they let us off the hook for having to stem the tide of public opinion. How quickly we forget that the way is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). When Believers are in lock step with the cultural whims of the day, it’s a safe bet we’re playing for the wrong team.