The first chapter in Faith that Sees Through the Culture was/is intended -- along with chapter 2 -- to empathize with every serious Christian. Those who confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world, are immediately confronted by forces against them. These forces can easily discourage the Christian. Is it because the culture in the world is atheistic? No, atheism -- relatively -- is not a pervasive worldview. For the most part, people in the United States are pretty spiritual. We should recognize this as we strive to successfully navigate the culture we live in. From pg. 29 of the book:
It would be a mistake, however, to reduce the corrosion of a nation to a lack of morality. There is always a spiritual condition -- and practice -- in the backdrop. Indeed, the United States of America, though being "secular," is not a nation without spirituality. Secularism is not synonymous with atheism. Most citizens claim some sort of belief system. Luther wrote in the Large Catechism, "You can easily see and sense how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people have ever been so corrupt that they did not begin and continue some divine worship. Everyone has set up as his special god whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort" [LC I 17]. This is still happening. And where the world does its best to deny the one true God, the evil one is also there, keeping us religious, but in the wrong ways.
We should understand that as we live in the culture, we do not face an anti-religious vacuum. Much to the contrary, religion abounds (whether or not it is called "religion"). People innately believe in more than molecules and atoms. Any belief system seeping into the soul, however, replacing the revelation of Jesus Christ (understanding the significance of incarnation) comes at a price. Eternal life is lost apart from the author of life and the One who is life: Christ. This ought to alarm every Christian who claims to care about another person who does not know the liberation from religion that shackles dying people with what they must do for their own enlightenment.
The evil one is not irreligious. He carries on as an angel of light (2 Co 10:14). Christians therefore must be wise to this. We do not seek to share Christ with irreligious or unspiritual people, and this fact in itself is set to discourage the Christian from ever opening their mouth for the gospel. Instead, let us not be surprised by what can feel like a suppresive encounter, but let us rather capitalize in a secularized milieu that encourages the exchange of ideas. It is easy to say that no one wants to hear the gospel. St. Paul could have said that to himself at the Areopagus, but he didn't. He opened his mouth for Christ to a bunch of very religious athenians (Acts 17).
In Jesus' Name,
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