The land we inhabit is becoming more unfamiliar by the day. We may be witnessing the dawn of cultural exile. And quoting the Bible, I fear, won’t preserve our institutions or, for that matter, our culture.
The Christian worldview has become insufficient as our primary offensive weapon in this world. Why? Because the Christian worldview presupposes some level of mutual understanding with the non-Christian mind. So the argument has gone (at least in my experience), that if we can make the claims of Christian faith meaningful and convincing, our argument will have won, converts will have been gained, and culture saved.
Now, what I did not say is that the Christian worldview in itself is insufficient. Our worldview is correct. Our Scriptures are correct. Still, people reject both. Our cultural lens and vocabulary lacks a level of gravitas.
A worldview portends a limited sense of perception only; not engagement. What we lack is an appropriate cultural apologetic. As much as I wish I could claim this term as my own, I cannot. It belongs to J. Budziszewski who penned the phrase in his excellent book, Evangelicals in the Public Square. In his view, a cultural apologetic is a “guide to persuasion.” The cultural apologetic is a method for application and translation. It’s seeking to make our fundamental view of the world intelligible to non-familiar individuals. Evangelicalism lacks this in its cultural discourse. For too long we’ve assumed that espousing a Bible verse will turn the ship around towards calmer waters.
At this point, I won’t try to convince you I’ve discerned the evangelical apologetic missing in our cultural divide. Is it Natural Law? Is it a vague appeal to “Transcendence?” Is it statistical analysis?
I’m not sure. There may not be one definitive approach. What I would suggest is that if the Christian worldview is true, then it must be true in a myriad of ways and understandings. Perhaps this is taking the educational psychology theory of “multiple intelligences” and applying Christian ethics to it.
What I’m not suggesting is that Christians lessen the intensity of their convictions as much as I am advocating for an appeal to our convictions that may need to be funneled through alternate means.
Take, for example, an appeal to the superiority of traditional marriage. If traditional marriage as understood by the Christian tradition is true and comports with reality, then it must be true apart from an appeal to Scripture. I arrived at this thinking after reading an article from the conservative quarterly of the University of Chicago, Counterpoint (which is available for free PDF download and a must read). In the most recent edition, the pseudonymous “Carl Roberts” makes an appeal for traditional marriage according to sociological data in his article titled “Rationally Based: Social Science’s Case for Traditional Marriage.” His conclusions are entirely palatable to a Christian understanding of traditional marriage, but Roberts arrived at his conclusion apart from appeals to Scripture.
In a culture that laughs at the notion of biblical authority, the Bible’s authority is going to have to be proven apart from the traditional recitations of Scripture. The Bible will still be true, but that does not mean that evidence which comports with Scripture is any less truer. Scripture’s truthfulness does not need to be proven outside itself, but our attempts at arriving at culturally satisfying and preserving explanations do.