Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
To provide one follow up to yesterday’s post on what we can/should learn from the Tim Tebow withdrawal from his church speaking engagement, Carl Trueman concludes that as Christians we ought to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
I have commented often that we live in a day when the mores and culture are changing rapidly. In many ways, we are experiencing a moral tsunami. Most of us have known this intellectually; today more than ever we are feeling the reality of this experientially.
Trueman states the following conclusion, with a bit of biting wit:
The incident is confirmation that the world is changing rapidly and, as I have noted before, taking any stand on homosexuality short of complete and unconditional affirmation will soon place one in the same moral category as a Klansman or a homicidal foot fetishist. Of course, I am not a cultural transformationalist; but if there are any such reading this blog, I might suggest that now would be a good time for you chaps to start proving me wrong. Yes, I do appreciate the cool movie reviews, the nice paintings, the appearances on the occasional serious news program and the efforts on behalf of decent craft brews; but I have a suspicion that it would really be much more helpful if we were seeing some transformation for the good in society's moral and legal standards. The culture is transforming as I write, but not, it seems to me, in ways conducive to religious freedom in general or Christianity in particular.
In noting some of the positive things we can learn from this, Trueman, in his third point, writes that:
we need to remember that hatred from the world is what we are to expect. The West has enjoyed a happy confluence of the broad ethical values of wider society and of the Bible on things such as sexual morality for many centuries. That is changing rapidly. It will lead to persecution, whether in the mild form of name calling or more severe forms such as the use of legal penalties against those who hold fast to the faith. What does the Bible have to say to this? 'Do not be surprised....' 1 Pet. 4:12. This is the expected norm; what we have thus far enjoyed for many centuries now is actually the exception - a delightful blessing for which we should be grateful, but the exception nonetheless.
And here is Trueman’s important conclusion we must remember in this changing day:
Finally, remember Matt. 16:18. No media campaign, no election result, no ruling of the Supreme Court, no attack from the most violent enemy can negate that promise. Yes, the church's enemies come; but they always eventually go. The church remains and will always do so, guaranteed by the grace of a faithful, covenant keeping God. That should be a cause for rejoicing, whatever the outward cultural circumstances in which we find ourselves.
It is important to remember two of Jesus’ promises:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18b).