(From a conversation recorded in Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth.)
“Your earlier book says Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals,” a schoolteacher commented, joining me for lunch at a conference where I had just spoken. Then he added thoughtfully, “I’d never heard that before.”
The teacher was talking about How Now Shall We Live? and at his words I looked up from my plate in surprise. Was he really saying he’d never even heard the idea of being a redemptive force in every area of culture? He shook his head: “No, I’ve always thought of salvation strictly in terms of individual souls.”
God has given me the grace of attending a church that views its task as transforming culture with the Gospel, so this concept was not foreign to me. But several years ago, it certainly would have been. And even had someone suggested to me that the job of the Church was to transform and redeem culture with the Gospel, I, like many (or dare I say most!) evangelicals today would likely have located that transformative power in political activism. How do we transform American culture? Well, by going to Washington and getting a bill passed, of course!
But have we gotten it backwards? A member of congress once told Pearcey, “I got involved in politics… because I thought that was the fastest way to moral reform. Well, we’ve won some legislative victories, but we’ve lost the culture.”
If I haven’t lost all of you by my long absence, discuss!