If I needed to find something out about Christianity and culture in today’s world, probably the first place I would turn would be to Dr. Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His depth of knowledge of all that is going on affecting Christians in the world today is completely astounding. They say that he has TV’s everywhere in his room broadcasting news from across the world and that he sleeps maybe 3-4 hours a night, which is why he is able to be so on top of things. This may or may not be true, but regardless it seems like the only adequate solution for how someone could know as much as Mohler always does about current events.
One event in particular that Mohler has his finger on the pulse of is the loss of a collective Christian memory in 21st century New England. By the “loss of Christian memory” we mean that the people have become so far away from the church and their Christian heritage that no residual effects of biblical Christian thinking seem to remain as an influence on their worldview. (I actually have spoken about this idea at length in a previous series entitled The Laodicean Project.) As Dr. Mohler notes, currently the people of New England are so far along the path towards secularization that the number of inhabitants checking “None” for religious affiliation is starting to rival the number checking “Roman Catholicism” and “Protestant.” Of course, as anyone can tell you, the number of “None’s” is generally an underestimate, representing people who have managed to overcome the guilt that might make them want to check a Christian affiliation even though it does not describe them, and so this data is all the more troubling.
The consequences of this that Mohler sees, at least on the immediate horizon, is that it is leading to an increasing support for same-sex marriage in these states. Though same-sex marriage has been prohibited in all states where it has come up for a popular vote, there are a number of states in New England which are approaching legislative action that would make this practice legal in them.
This is unnerving, but far worse than this is that, by losing their Christian memory, the people are getting to a point where they can no longer reasonably be expected to stumble upon Christianity at some point in their lives. With a loss of Christian memory we lose a familiarity with the gospel message, and so as things start to go downhill they just pick up momentum and become all the more fabulously depraved since there are no roadblocks in the conscience calling people back to the biblical design. What is even sadder is that this is happening in what once was the hot-bed of Christian thought in this country, where Jonathon Edwards preached and saw revival occur and several devout academic institutions opened to provide seminary education for the men of that region.
Dr. Mohler captures all of this in a new article on his blog and I strongly suggest you read it. I am not as concerned with the possibility of legalized same-sex marriage as I am with his cultural commentary. Even if it didn’t influence same-sex marriage decisions, the loss of Christian memory can hardly be viewed as a good thing, and so seeing it addressed in any fashion is important for us to check out.
This is where my heart is. I want to be inside the post-Christian culture this loss has created, working to plant churches that will see lives transformed through a reintroduction of the gospel fire there. If you feel the same, please act on it. Right now the church is guilty of simply assuming these people are reached and so do not need the missionary attention that places like Africa and South America do, but in a sense they are just as frontier as any of those places. Thus, we must go there, present the gospel, minister to the people, and pray that God will reawaken that Christian memory that has slowly slipped away.
Read Dr. Mohler’s post on this here.