A Threat the Church Has Not Encountered Before
One of the transformative consequences of taking a break from our daily routine with a trip or vacation is an enlarged perspective when we return. Like a helicopter sightseeing tour that shows us a beautiful location from a higher view, retreating from the regular routine can help us see ourselves more clearly from God's perspective.
One of the clear messages I sensed from God in recent days is that His people must prepare more urgently than ever for the challenges that are coming. We are in the early stages of a movement the church has never faced before, one which threatens us in ways that are now becoming clearer.
Sociologist Philip Rieff describes the era when the Christian movement began as the "first culture." It was dominated by a pantheon of gods whose followers were content with their religion and not missionary toward the larger world. According to Rieff, the Christian movement sparked a monotheistic and evangelistic "second culture" which swept away the "first culture."
Now we are in what Rieff calls the "third culture," which Australian pastor Stephen McAlpine describes as "hermetically sealed off from anything transcendent." It "recognizes only horizontal identity constructions, not vertical ones. Here is where meaning is determined, and here is where authority lies. It is ours to construct — and deconstruct."
McAlpine adds: "This third culture is highly evangelistic and actively hostile to second-culture values." For example, it considers sexual "freedom" and "authenticity" to be vital to personal and social flourishing. Biblical morality is therefore seen as dangerous to society and potentially deadly to LGBTQ individuals. The same vitriolic stance is taken with regard to abortion, euthanasia, or any other personal "freedoms" that are "threatened" by biblical faith.
According to McAlpine, this is a "new religion" and rival gospel "the church has not encountered before." It seeks nothing less than to replace Christianity with its secular vision for a better future.
~ Dr. Jim Denison