At Christ Church we have been laying the groundwork for our summer teaching series on living faithfully in a post Christian culture. A post Christian culture is one in which the defining narratives of the Christian faith no longer provide the framework for a culture’s prevailing worldview or its common life together.
This doesn’t mean that most people will not self-identify as Christian – because most people in North America still identify as Christian. Rather the way they view reality and live their lives are for the most part totally disconnected from classic biblical Christianity. Here’s what I mean about how people self-identifying as Christian and people actually having Jesus Christ as the driving reality of their lives are different:
Based on how the question is asked 53% of people asked responded to a Reuter’s poll that Christian business owners should be compelled to go against their conscience and the teaching of the church to provide abortion-inducing forms of contraception for their employees.
The logical corallary to this is that if Christians think its wrong to provide abortifacients to their employees, then they shouldn’t be in business. In other words their Christian convictions exclude them from full participation in the public square.
Please don’t get distracted by your feelings pro or con on the Hobby Lobby decision – although I will tell you that the owner of your kosher deli is probably glad he still has legal precedence to bring his religious beliefs into his business.
My point in bringing this up is that there would not be 53% of respondants who think that it is a good idea to compel traditional Christians to violate their core beliefs by force of law in a country that is not rapidly becoming post-Christian. So given this and other instances I would maintain that it is demonstrable as far as how people really live their lives that our culture is definitely trending post-Christian.
The consequence of this is that more and more people begin to see classic expressions of faith in Jesus Christ on a spectrum from indifference, to suspicion, to outright hostility.
Case in point: Peter Boghossian, a faculty member at Portland State University just published a new book that has gained a measure of notoriety. The title is A Manual for Creating Atheists. In chapter 9 he writes:
“. . . I want to add my voice to the growing number of people who argue that we must reconceptualize faith as a virus of the mind, and treat faith like other epidemiological crises: contain and eradicate. . . .
Just as society has established mechanisms to deal with contagions, pathogens, and infectious diseases that affect our water, air, and food supply (with objectives like ensuring that the commons are free of toxins and preventing the spread of diseases), there’s also an urgent need for large-scale interventions in educational systems, houses of worship, and other institutions that promote failed epistemologies.
A key containment protocol is to financially cripple any institution that propagates a faulty epistemology, starting with the most egregious perpetrators: religious institutions.”
Moreover, based on Barna research while only 35% of Baby Boomers (my generation) meet their criteria for “post-Christian”, 48% of 18-28 year olds are post-Christian. In each successive generation Christianity is moving more from a place of privilege in our society to a place on the margins of our society. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
And that brings us to the means by which we’ll be addressing how we navigate a post-Christian culture in this series of blog posts. My conviction is that the little letter of 1 Peter provides the insight we need to live faithfully for Jesus Christ in our secularizing era.
The reason for this is that 1 Peter is the Apostle Peter’s instruction to new Gentile Christians on how to live faithfully in a culture that viewed their faith in Jesus Christ on a spectrum from indifference to suspicion to hostility. So in order to find guidance in how to live in a post-Christian culture, we can look to how the Church handled living in a pre-Christian culture. While our world is vastly different from the Greco-Roman context of the first century I think that if we are observant and careful we can find transferable points that directly address our current situation.
And that will be the direction we take in upcoming blog posts.