The second of two connecting teachings
Is there a gatekeeper of America?Yes, there is, and you might be surprised at what it is!
It’s my earnest conviction that the Gatekeeper of American Culture is The Definition of Truth
An explanation of what a Cultural Gatekeeper does…
The Gatekeeper of any culture is like a filter that sifts out what is considered “truth” and what truths are considered absolute or universally accepted. In our culture, truths are private and personal with no overarching absolutes.
In the following, I will elaborate on how the false definition of “Truth” in our present culture is our Gatekeeper. I will also address how the Christian buy-in to this false notion is impacting us as followers of Christ. If we desire to speak Biblical Truth into a variety of issues that are facing our society today, we must understand this insidious false definition.
Before I explain this false definition, let me explain a clear biblical definition of truth.
Consider 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching (doctrine), for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
In these two verses, the word “Scripture” is referring to the Old Testament, as the New Testament had not yet been written. It is actually more staggering to realize that the Apostle Paul believed that when the Hebrew Bible was used correctly, it addressed every avenue of life and how we ought to live.
As Christ-Followers we believe that all of the Bible – Old and New Testaments, address all aspects of life. When the truths of Scripture are practiced individually, or collectively, a person and/or an ethic group, will not only survive, but also prosper and thrive.
In order for this to happen we must first understand the gatekeeper of any given society. The gatekeeper of culture is how truth is defined.
Please remember that the following definition of truth is a false definition. This is how the world defines truth and not how we define it as Christ followers. Pause for a moment and imagine a 2-story house.
The Upper Story (Private Sphere):
On this story we find values, personal choice, individual freedoms, no absolutes, existential (experiences in life that are personal) decisions that are awash with moral relativism. Here, people find their own personal meaning. As you might guess, this is where our cultural places religion, the arts, sexual preference, philosophy, psychology and sociology. Religious preferences, especially Christianity, belongs here because it is not considered as “objective truth” to which one ought to submit. In fact, if you profess Christianity to the world, outside the walls of our churches, you might be considered to be intolerant. Why? Because you are so convinced about what you believe and what the Bible teaches is absolute.
The Lower Story or the Public Sphere:
Now, in your mind, visualize the lower story of the house. If the upstairs is the “value floor,” in this false understanding, the downstairs is what the world defines as the “fact floor”, or the “public sphere.” Here you find so-called objective truth where reason rules supreme. In this sphere is science, politics, education, evolution, economics and business institutions. In this story facts are verifiable, things are rational, and considered universally valid and binding. This is where cognitive thinking people live; where the intelligent and rational people render their opinions and live out their behaviors. Only the irrational cling to fantasies such as religion.
Let me briefly comment about evolution at this point. Evolution is considered to be a fact in this lower story and, therefore, cannot be challenged as a theory about origins. It is considered to be universally binding and is taught as absolute fact or Truth. Technically, evolution is not science but in the world of academia it is demanded to be so. It is not science because according to the scientific method science must be observable, measurable, repeatable, and experimental by repeated testing in order to form a hypothesis (which is an educated guess based on experimentation).
Sir Arthur Keith who wrote the forward to the “Origin of Species, The Preservation of Favored Races in the struggle for Life, the 100th edition, admitted, “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable.”
I would suggest if you are reading this teaching attempt to communicate this false split to another person in your sphere of influence.
In this brief summary I laid out for you the false definition of Truth which is the gatekeeper of our culture. In other words, all ideologies and systems of thought are viewed through this grid. As Philip Johnson, the great Christian thinker said,
“This false split is the number one barrier that keeps Christianity in its cultural captivity.”
Why? Because this cultural lie relegates Christianity to only the upper-story. As long as Christians stay confined to their bible studies, evangelistic crusades, church services, youth camps, concerts, and yes, even benevolent service to our communities, all is fine. But as soon as Christ followers think that they can speak biblical truths into arenas that reside in the lower story…there is real resistance.
It is ironic to me that the holistic understanding of truth, one that permeates all of life, is taught and understood in the Islamic concept of truth defined as political Islam, and in the Jewish concept of truth. Even Christianity, for its first 300 years, believed in the application of truth to ALL of life, probably because the make-up of the first Christian converts were primarily Jewish and steeped in Torah. The tragic news, however, is that modern Christendom has slowly developed a privatized faith which has crippled our impact on cultural transformation.
As I have said over my 50 + years of ministry, “As long as I don’t speak up or speak out most people really like me☺!” But as soon as I render a biblical opinion about something that is controversial, the negative reaction is usually inevitable. What is most sobering is when I begin to address cultural issues, I typically always get kick back from certain evangelical influencers and leaders. As our culture drifts towards a more aggressive Christian hostility, it’s encouraging that more and more Christ followers are beginning to speak up and speak out! Praise God!
I believe, as many of Jesus’ followers believe, that the Bible’s wisdom is applicable and powerfully addresses every area of life. For this reason, we can address these issues with boldness.
Here is one of our challenges: What we believe and what we say and do are different.
What we believe and what we profess ought to be the same.
Look closely at John 12:42…
“Nevertheless, many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;” – John 12:42 NASB
[Please refer to my previous teaching, “Christianity’s Shift with a Cultural Shove” for a detailed explanation of what it meant to be cast out of the Synagogue system from John 9:22]
I could have titled this teaching “Christianity’s Shift with a Cultural Shove Part 2.” The world not only pushes us to the sidelines and attempts to conform us (Romans 12:1, 2), but for much of Christendom the world (the realm of secular and demonic thought) does not need to squeeze us out— we simply adjust our message and the Bible (2 Timothy 4:3) to be more accommodating to the cultural issues. We do this by avoiding the thorny subjects like gender blending, homosexuality, and lesbianism (especially if they are family members or close friends). The Christian community, especially leadership, in these organizations emphasize love, tolerance, unity, and acceptance rather than truth and love in tandem.
I think that our Lord Jesus Christ understood that there is a time when peace and unity are not to be the dominate objective. Notice what He said:
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and a man’s enemies will be those of his [own] household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” – Matthew 10:34-38 NKJV
Many churches are just plain timid and fearful (Revelation 21:8), so they remain silent in an effort to not disrupt the financial stream and attendance indexes. It seems that unity with others has superseded Truth. I believe a biblical balance can be struck—Truth and Love together.
In reality I do not condemn nor do I panic over the world’s understanding of this definition of truth. I do cringe, however, at the ignorance, avoidance, and sheer fear of communicating God’s total Truth by we who profess the Name of Jesus the Christ.
As I am writing this teaching at my lunch table, a non-Christian waiter approached me and asked me what I was doing. In a manner of minutes, I was able to communicate that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I mentor men, and my wife and I teach the Bible. We teach the truths of the Bible as they pertain to every aspects of our personal lives and how the Bible addresses issues in all of society. With a contemplative look he says, “So that is what you do and have done for your vocation? This is very different and unusual.” He made these comments with a congenial disposition and inquisitive demeanor. He was intrigued that I mentored men from a Biblical perspective not simply to impact their personal faith but also address the broader society.
During another recent lunch I had with a non-Christian couple, they asked me to describe myself in view of the fact that I am a follower of Christ, yet embrace the Old Testament as well as the New. They said this was a complete anomaly to them. After talking for a couple of hours, the husband suggested, because of my holistic understanding, that I go to Synagogues in my home town and explain the connection between the OT and the NT. He was pleasantly pleased because he understood how I was integrating my Christianity with his Jewish roots.
During the course of our lunch we talked about sanitation principles in Torah, the role of judges, the prison system, what the Bible says about Justice, and what the undergirding ideology of Antifa is. We also discussed the Me-too and Occupy Movements, as well as how to care for the poor. Notice all of these subjects exist in the lower, so-called, “fact” story and, for the most part, people do not discuss these issues from a biblical perspective.
In amazement, his wife posed two questions to Linda and me: “Where have I been all these years? I’m Jewish and you all know more about Torah then me and my Jewish friends! How is it possible that Christians could put the OT on the sidelines?” Good questions from someone who does not follow Jesus, right?
Christ instructed us to be salt and light. Ancient civilizations depended on salt to preserve their foods primarily and secondarily to add flavor. In some cultures, laborers were paid in salt. How rewarding to be used to preserve Truth to a world void of God’s wisdom.
Here is the point: when we explain God’s Truth, especially truths germane to our society, to all types of people, they tend to be very interested and inquisitive. When we walk down to the lower story and speak God’s Truth about particular subjects, there is generally not a negative response. I typically get responses like, “that is so interesting”, “I never thought the Bible addressed such subjects,” “I need to increase my understanding of Scripture” and many more.
Friends, the reward I feel when I communicate truth is absolutely exhilarating. But this is not the goal. The goal is to present people with the reality of Scripture and how it is applicable to all issues in both personal and public life. Most people have an innate understanding of ‘right and wrong’ and the sensibility of understanding Scripture when it is explained and placed into the context of everyday life. When described clearly and respectfully, they grasp it and are willing to understand more.
Here are a number of ways you might consider making this teaching pertinent to your experience:
#1 Draw a picture of a two-story building with the upper story representing the value story and the lower story illustrating the so-called fact story. Place ideologies, behaviors, and disciplines in each of the level.
# 2 Make an effort to explain this false definition of Truth to a family member or friend. You will find this a little more challenging than you might think, but the exercise will benefit you as well as the recipient.
#3 Take note of the world around you with regard to how Christians and Non-Christians view the “gatekeeper” of society.
#4 Discover biblical answers as to how to address the variety of ideologies in the lower story.
Helping to Advance the Kingdom of God with you!