Wednesday, October 23, 2019

War + Veterans = Nones

Last week I was handing out a few Gospel tracts, and one guy wasn't interested in the tract, but was willing to have a conversation. I had some time left in my parking space, so I sat down and we talked for a while.

He has had his share of rough experiences in life. One type of those was experiences in war and things done to defend our country. He has seen some terrible things, and consequently does not see God having an active role in the world today, to say the least.

The conversation did not finish where it started, and he's interested in talking more some other time. (Please feel free to keep that in prayer.) For my purposes here, I want to note a connection made between veterans of the War on Terror, and its offshoots, and the rise of The Nones, those who indicate no religious affiliation or belief.

There has been a growing movement among Evangelicals to narrow the reach of the Gospel and the Word of God for the sake of “purity” of the Gospel. As if talking about the relevance of sin in various controversial areas of life could somehow “taint” the message that the Good News of Jesus can handle all sin anywhere. The evangelical church is narrowing itself into irrelevance, and it shows in our culture.

To say nothing of war's political roots, war itself is accelerating this vanishing into irrelevance. As war exposes people to vastly greater difficulties in this world, narrowing the relevance of our message has eternally dire consequences.

At the risk of sounding like the moral equivalence about politics so often heard in the pulpit today about “both sides,” I can acknowledge that there are believers on both sides of the issue of war. Some are pacifists, and others recognize the God of war, both using Scripture to back up their positions to varying extents.

My purpose here at this time is not to take one side or the other. My purpose here is to encourage both sides to engage, not just in the argument/debate about this particular question, but in the entire cultural conversation and its implications that are manifesting themselves in these times. Having the conversation is better than the apathy of avoiding it altogether or hiding behind irrelevance masked as purity.

Whether we live in anomalously peaceful times in history or not, the times are changing, and the evangelical church is currently not ready for these changes. The way to get ready is to go deeper into the Word, and be willing to talk about that with respect to anything and everything in the culture, including the most difficult experiences people face.

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