Why outrage culture is good news for the gospel


“Moral Relativism Is Dead

Why outrage culture is good news for the gospel.”

This is the title of an article in Christianity Today.  

The question I have is this – is the current “outrage culture” really good news for the gospel?

The article talks about the perceived differences between conservatives and liberals, who has perceived moral superiority, and the decline in people who claim moral relativism.  Essentially, asking are conservatives really on the high ground, as they have generally believed.

The conclusion they come to is this –

It isn’t that conservatives and liberals have shrugged off transcendent ideas of right and wrong. Rather, they each appeal to a different transcendent moral foundation. We are not in an era of moral relativism but moral pluralism.

That’s not necessarily good news: It’s hard to build a unified society when we hold radically different moral visions. It’s even hard to have a conversation when we view each other as immoral

But it does offer evangelistic opportunities. Our Great Commission was never to convince liberals that there are objective moral truths. Our neighbors already have a deep sense that something has gone terribly wrong in our world, that “all have sinned.” In our conversations with unbelievers, we owe them the respect to try to understand their moral commitments and frustrations. They very well may be motivated to look for answers, especially as they find their best moral efforts frustrated. The fields are ripe for the harvest.

Our culture’s moral indignation offers opportunities to proclaim Jesus’ saving grace and direct people to the one who is truth, beauty, and goodness.

We are not in an era of moral relativism but moral pluralism.

What does that mean – moral pluralism?
Let’s look at dictionary.com to find out –

  1. a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle.
  2. a theory that reality consists of two or more independent elements.

It’s hard to build a unified society when we hold radically different moral visions.

A couple more questions – do we even want to have a unified society?
And if we do want that – why – to what end?

Some perspective on the questions

At first glace, this looks odd.

Is our goal, as Christians, a world in which “reality” consists of two or more independent elements?  You can tell, from other things I’ve written, I think – as a whole – that conservatives and liberals are both off the path as far as God and politics are concerned.  However, for whatever reason – conservatives often seem to come across as the more “religious” of the two.  Given the name of this site – God versus religion – that doesn’t mean much to me.  I can’t see how so many of the things either side says can be uttered in the same sound bite as the word God.

Jesus didn’t believe in a unified society.  One need look no further than this famous question to see that –

Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

In case that’s not enough, how about one more –

Mt 13:40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

The catch to this is that it’s not what we do – it’s why we do the things we do.  Both liberals and conservatives think they are doing the “right” thing.  Both sides claim the name of God while they do these things.  But what would God say?
Further more – there’s the all important question of whether they are truly Christians – truly saved – truly forgiven.  Do we do what we do because we do it for Jesus – or is it for ourselves?  It’s the old question of works to be saved – or works as an outcome of faith.

And then, of course, there’s the issue brought up in the article related to the Great Commission.

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But it does offer evangelistic opportunities. Our Great Commission was never to convince liberals that there are objective moral truths. Our neighbors already have a deep sense that something has gone terribly wrong in our world, that “all have sinned.” In our conversations with unbelievers, we owe them the respect to try to understand their moral commitments and frustrations. They very well may be motivated to look for answers, especially as they find their best moral efforts frustrated. The fields are ripe for the harvest.

How is it possible for a Christian to avoid the political issues that bring about the environment in which we now live?

Our neighbors already have a deep sense that something has gone terribly wrong in our world, that “all have sinned.”

This is a nice thing to say.  But is it even real?  Does either side have the sense that they are part of the problem, or does each think the other is the problem – and their side has the solution?

Does either side believe that “all have sinned”?

Why do I ask these questions?  Well, there’s this –

Treasures in Jars of Clay

2Co 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

To believe that everyone can just somehow come together and work things out is kind of naive.  It’s also forgetting this line from the passage above –

2 Co 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Well – maybe not forget.  Maybe to not believe it.  
Whichever it is – it’s not paying attention to the warnings we get from the Bible.

Further – to align ourselves too closely with either liberals or conservatives in the political arena – and give the appearance of supporting them – is to forget / not believe / ignore Jesus statement to –

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

It’s also to miss the lead-in to that statement –

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.
and
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?

Yes – a trap, with evil intent.  From Satan.
A trap to get us away from what we believe – away from God.

But it does offer evangelistic opportunities.

So – the final question  does this really leave us with evangelistic opportunities?

Of course, the answer is yes.

2Ti 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Couple that passage with these lines from the article –

… we owe them the respect to try to understand their moral commitments and frustrations. They very well may be motivated to look for answers, especially as they find their best moral efforts frustrated. The fields are ripe for the harvest.

 

and we have –

Yes – we owe them respect.  Respect as fellow creations of God.  Respect as potential brothers and sisters in Christ.

We owe them respect as we try to show them that the only true solution to the issues in this world is through Jesus.  

We also owe them the respect to give the entire message.  Unfortunately, the entire message is that this world is (within the limits of God’s permission) under the rule of The Prince of the earth – Satan.  And both sides will, if they get the message, see that they were under that rule while they did the very things they tried to do for the “right” reasons.  

This is a very fine line to walk.  It’s also one that, from what we read in the Bible, is ultimately doomed to failure.  We will eventually reach the “One World” goals of men that are outlined in the Bible.

The fields are ripe for the harvest.

Yes, the fields are ripe.

However, as Jesus said –

The Workers Are Few

Mt 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Yes, there are plenty of people who say they are Christians.

But – how many are prepared to do this job?

 

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