There is no culture war in America that Christians are called to enlist in as soldiers. Neither the Bible nor the Westminster Confession of Faith speak of “culture” as something to be “won” or “lost” in the way that many Baby Boomers have framed Christian life in American society. The story of redemption is not about God coming to save America nor to build a society that is safe and comfortable for his people. Christian nationalism is idolatry. On the contrary, the story of redemption is a story of all things in creation being reconciled to God through the work and person of Jesus Christ in societies that will always be uncomfortable for God’s people until Christ returns. As such, the dominant command and mission of God’s people is to love well: love God and love neighbor (Matt 22:36-40).

By the way, the phrase “culture war” was first used to describe the German Kulturkampf as the Roman Catholic Church and a fledgling German government were vying over control of the German empire in response to the rise in atheistic Marxism. This understanding of “war” makes some sense when understanding the role of the church in the social hierarchical thinking Catholic Social Thought where the church is at the top directing society. The Bible does not provide a specific approach to serving the differentiated needs of a society in terms of a political economy and this Catholic “culture war” framework is only one historically situated attempt to frame Christian thinking. There are others, however. The Presbyterian/Reformed tradition did not historically embrace the notion of Kulterkampf which, in part, explains why the Westminster Confession of Faith does not direct the church to focus her energies on “winning the culture for Christ.”

The truth is that “the culture” already belongs to Christ. He already won the battle for his world. Culture is, after all, an aspect of creation. Christ created culture in the beginning. The Father is still creating culture. The Holy Spirit is still actively forming, directing, and moving in culture. The triune God has never abandoned culture nor anything else in creation and never will. In the mystery of God consummating the redemption of his entire cosmos, God has commissioned his people to certain tasks and given them particular responsibilities as full collaborators with God in very ordinary, day-to-day applications of loving God and loving neighbor. As a result, Christians are called to live a life of holiness, share the gospel with those in their communities in love, Christians bring the love of God and neighbor into their family life, their places of employment, their little league athletic associations, their community volunteer associations, their armed forces, their political parties and houses of government, their marketplace transactions, their creative activities in the arts and entertainment fields, their professional associations, their professional sports activities, their public schools, colleges, and universities, and so on, not to make any of these into “Christian” utopian spaces to “win” the culture war but to be fully and actively present in all of them, and more, as “salt and light” as "restorers" and "rebuilders" (Isaiah 60) as God fulfills his purposes in the saving of the world.  It is God, and God alone, who determines how his people’s everyday, ordinary lives will ultimately “impact” a culture.

Chapters 4, 5, 16, 20, 23 and 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith are wonderful places to start in the journey of discovering what the Bible teaches regarding what our salvation is for, here and now, in service to a culture that already belongs to Christ yet is tragically distorted by the Fall. Because America has never been a country that embraced the Bible’s norms of what it means to love God and love neighbor consistently, and never will, God’s people are free to treat their involvement in all aspects of American culture like Daniel and his friends did in Babylon (Daniel 1-6) so that people are put in positions to flourish as God intends. Love God, love neighbor wherever God places you and embrace what God does with it. In Christ, you are more than free to honorably discharge yourself today from a culture “war” that has no basis in God’s word.


For more:

Far As The Curse Is Found, by Michael Williams

Not The Way It's Supposed To Be, by Cornelius Plantinga

Truth In All Its Glory, by William Edgar

Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art, by Abraham Kuyper

Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, by Albert Wolters

AuthorAnthony Bradley