In my last post I critiqued what I call ‘Top-Down’ approaches to cultural transformation. Such approaches can be summed up in one phrase: political activism. Any attempt to transform the culture through legislation and political cajoling–such as court battles, petitions, electing certain individuals into office, etc–will ultimately be unsuccessful because at the heart of every culture is . . . the human heart. Thus, true cultural transformation, I argued, could only come from the bottom up. Because, when individuals are transformed, the culture will be too.
In light of this reasoning, I challenged Evangelical Christians to stop funneling the majority of their time, energy, and money into futile ‘Top-Down‘ methods and to start focusing on making true disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is not to say we should be totally silent in the public square or that Christians should not be involved in politics at all. It is especially not to say Christians should stop utilizing political approaches when it comes to issues regarding the sanctity of human life or social justice. Certainly, we must do everything within our power to stop the daily slaughter of innocent children through abortion or to put an end to human sex trafficking. These issues, almost by necessity, will include political and legal interaction.
It is to say, however, that a ‘total’ or ‘big picture’ approach to cultural transformation should primarily focus on discipleship and not political activism.
The idea here is simple: the more Churches invest time and energy cultivating virtue among their parishioners, engendering and strengthening the faith of their children, helping people grow in the knowledge and understanding of God, engaging in acts of service, and inviting the Holy Spirit to transform the hearts of the lonely and the lost through both the preaching and daily living of the word of God, the more our culture will be renewed. As individual lives are transformed, individual people will bring their faith to bear on important decisions at the office, or in the laboratory, or at the film studio, or on election day, or walking in the park . . .
After all, true disciples are called to live out their faith, to bear good fruit, in whatever circumstance they find themselves in: whether they are a doctor, a lawyer, an educator, an artist, a filmmaker, a shoemaker, a scientist, a soldier, a plumber, a scrap metal worker, or even homeless. Whether slave or free or Jew or Gentile, we are all called to view our world through the truth of God’s Word. We are all called to good works–as St. James states, “faith without works is dead.” The more we behave like disciples, and the more disciples we make, the greater long term impact we will have on our culture and, indeed, the world.