Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Call to Counter-Cultural Christianity

A follow-up reflection on Sam Waldron’s Baptist Roots in America:

Waldron notes that although Calvinists (and Calvinistic Baptists, in particular) promoted and encouraged religious liberty in America, the rise of the American democratic spirit, in turn, led to the decline of Calvinism in American Churches (Baptists included).

In his closing call for contemporary Reformed Baptist churches to be "counter-cultural" Waldron notes the exposure of "a fundamental tension between the spirit of American democracy and the spirit of Biblical Calvinism" (see pp. 41-43).

He continues:

"Together with much that was good, sound, and even Biblical, there was mixed the little ‘leaven’ of a political philosophy fundamentally the same as that which spawned the French Revolution. Though long restrained and moderated by the vigorously Christian environment, in which it was planted, it blossomed in an increasingly general hostility to biblical Calvinism. Now its fruit is ripening in an America largely dominated by secular humanism and its radical separation of church and state."

Reformed Baptists must face the fact that "they are a counter-culture." Any insistence "on the electing grace and authoritative law of an absolutely sovereign God must seem un-American to their neighbors! In a certain sense it will be!" He adds, "Only sovereign grace can make a 20th century American a Christian."

Waldron concludes:

"Any church, therefore, determined to preach and practice the whole counsel of God in American today must be ready for war. It must be ready to be called many things by those who believe in autonomous freedom and worship at the shrine of individual liberty! Even those who should know better may be alienated by the spirit of the age. Yet the war is not un-winnable…. The secret of winning the war is not compromise with the spirit of this age. It is uncompromising obedience to God which holds the promise of his blessing."

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