Podcast: Decline and Renewal of the American Church
Check out the So We Speak podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
In this episode, Cole and Terry discuss the fourth installment of Tim Keller's essay "The Decline and Renewal of the American Church." They touch on reasons for decline and strategies, promises, and glimpses of renewal.
Keller’s purpose for this article is renewal. He argues that the church needs it and the culture needs it. God’s love requires renewal. Keller identifies the “why” of renewal with a single statement: Christianity is true.
Keller pushes back against the notion that there must be a middle ground between liberal and conservative Christianity when approaching social issues. He argues for an entirely different approach. The key to renewal is not borrowing from a middle ground.
The key to renewal is to stand firm on the Word of God from which we drive our convictions.
If that Word-of-God stance lands us in the position of a certain political party, that is okay. The key is that morality does not flow from politics. Politics do not define what is moral. God’s Word alone holds the authority to define right and wrong.
The liberal side of Christianity has lost an eschatological view of the gospel and has caved to the rise of Christian moralism. On the other side, conservative evangelicals will say that the gospel is good for society and America. This is done through Republican politics which merges conservative politics with the gospel. This misses the gospel because it combines nationalism and Christianity.
The gospel stands on its own two feet and does not need the help of society and rules to make it applicable. Some of the benefits of the gospel are cultural and societal. But this creates a big hole in the gospel message that Scripture does not teach.
Knowing how to explain the gospel to people with different worldviews is so important. No one naturally develops a Christian worldview outside the intervening work of God. This requires Christians to be knowledgeable and articulate as they interact with a godless culture. Ultimately, it requires a knowledge of God’s call to interact with the culture in such a way as to bring others into the Kingdom of God.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.