WHERE THE BATTLE RAGES
Ten Key Current and Potentially Future Battlefronts in the Long War to Defend Historic Christian Truth and Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What follows here is an outline of ten notable combat zones in which the enemy seems to be aggressively attacking — or poised to attack — Christian truth, values, influence, witness, and even Christians themselves, here in America in 2021. This outline is organized in broad categories and includes for each a brief descriptive synopsis, some associated terminology, and one or more related references for further study. Please note that this list is neither exhaustive nor ranked. There are numerous other major battlefronts not mentioned here.
COMBAT ZONES IN ALL OF CULTURE — AFFECTING EVERYONE, INCLUDING CHRISTIANS.
1) Contemporary Critical Theory. Powerful cultural and political pressures are being brought to bear on individuals, institutions, corporations, and even nations (government officials) to be “woke.” The term woke in today’s vernacular means to be alert to social injustice, but apparently also means to acquiesce and conform to certain prescribed views, assumptions, and approaches in dealing with social injustice that are rooted in Marxist principles and often not consistent with a Biblical worldview. The enemy of Christ and Christian truth seems to have hijacked the former “liberal” left into adopting a new radicalized agenda that appears to be moving America closer to some form of totalitarianism — marginalizing and “canceling” all opposing conservative views, traditional Christian values and, ultimately, even Christians themselves.
This movement includes many subsets and can often be identified with terms such as Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, class privilege, heteronormativity, hegemony, equity (not the same as equality), oppressors and oppressed people, white fragility, and the 1619 Project. It has gained tremendous strength and influence within especially the past few years. This can be attributed to the increasing complicity of, and outright advocacy by, major cultural forces, including: academia, Hollywood, mainstream media, social media tech firms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), radical liberal government, corporations, and possibly even banks.
Click these links for further reading:
Live Not by Lies • a clarion call and warning is issued in this recently published book by Rod Dreher
Is Critical Theory Biblical? — a What Would You Say? (Colson Center) Youtube video
CRT: What It Is and How to Fight It • by Christopher F. Rufo
Are Social Justice, Critical Theory, and Christianity Compatible? • video presentation by Neil Shenvi
The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity • article by Neil Shenvi
2) Apatheism. The enemy’s attack here involves a numbing of the mind regarding spiritual truth and its ultimate importance, resulting in a big yawn rather than a sense of urgency to consider and come to conclusions on what life is all about, what comes after this life, and what to do about it. In many cases apatheism amounts to atheism under the guise of agnosticism. Apatheism adopts a “whatever” posture toward matters of faith that is often accompanied by procrastination in seriously thinking and acting on the most vital matters in life. The marked rise in “Nones” (those who mark “None of the above” on religious affiliation surveys) provides further substantive documentation of this contagious and potentially spiritually deadly disease.
3) Scientism. The battle here is over whether one will adopt or reject the idea that science and rational thinking alone are sufficiently powerful to address every human problem. This view often goes hand in hand with the almost monolithic doctrines of naturalism and materialism that mark mainstream science today. Scientism reinforces itself by excluding the voice and influence of any who refuse to endorse its assumptions. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, the Center for Inquiry, and Free Inquiry are all notable champions of scientism.
4) Digital Superintelligence. This potentially very serious battlefront would be the result of a meteoric rise of incredibly powerful new technological forces that are totally devoid of, and unguided by, principles of Christian truth, values, and ethics. There is reason to believe that this battlefront may very well dwarf all others combined. Even Elon Musk, who makes no claim to be a Christian, says that superintelligence now poses a far more dangerous threat to humanity than nuclear weapons. He claims that the existential risk from advanced AI includes the fact that “artificial general intelligence could someday result in human extinction or some other unrecoverable global catastrophe.”
UFOs. We might also include in this category the fact and effect of recently declassified documentation of the U.S. government’s official acknowledgment of the reality of UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena).
Probably also related here is the Simulation Hypothesis which proposes that we are actually already in a computer simulation somewhat akin to that portrayed in films like The Matrix and The Truman Show.
What all of these matters (and others, such as the implications of modern quantum physics in knowing anything with certainty) have in common is the fact that there is very little thoughtful Christian response and guidance (theological and ethical) available for addressing them. This might very conceivably lead to great confusion and doubt among susceptible believers who are unable to explain or relate such unconventional experiences and ideas to Biblical revelation. That is what makes this such a potentially major battlefront.
Some Christians might claim that Christ will surely return, or God will take charge of things and prevent all of this, before we get to that point. But on what grounds should we assume that? It would not be the first time in history that God has allowed technology to create real challenges in areas of Christian conviction.
5) Wicca, Eastern practice and influence, Pseudo-Spirituality. The deception and enticement of such trending systems have given rise to the worship of nature and a form of godliness that denies the power and attributes of the one true infinite–personal God of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:5). Such systems almost always fail to draw a line between the Creator and His creation (Romans 1:25). Yoga and other eastern-based meditative practices seem reminiscent of the undefined religions in ancient Athens (Acts 17:16-34). Taxpayer-funded public broadcasting has long promoted a whole host of ideologies and beliefs — except evangelical Christianity! — in its fundraising campaigns, e.g. Wayne Dyer (Taoism), Deepak Chopra (Eastern, New Age), etc.
Moralistic Therapeutic Theism is another continuing deception that no doubt fits this category.
6) Persecution. The direct cultural, psychological, and even physical assault on Christian believers in China, Islamic countries, and other places around the world is far greater than commonly recognized here in America, but may be coming our way before long. Be sure to explore these links for further reference:
COMBAT ZONES WITHIN THE CHURCH — AFFECTING CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS IN PARTICULAR.
7) Digital Sex and Christian Moral Failure. The rise and common use of the internet has unleashed a torrent of sexual temptation and destruction that continues to grow. The Playboy magazines, adult bookstores, peep holes, and XXX-rated movies of the past have now all given way to the easy private access of sexual content on personal digital devices. This includes everything from sexting to pornography to far more extreme forms of deviant sexual content. It seems that the devil has levied particularly intense temptation on local and well-noted Christian leaders. Whenever the enemy is able to bring down high-profile Christians by means of immoral behavior, pride, or hypocrisy, the fallout is incalculable — both in terms of a marred witness before the world, and the erosion of conviction and resolve in all Christians. In 2021 alone this has happened twice, with Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University, and with international Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.
8) Progressive Christianity. This attack and movement is designed to create doubt about the truth of God’s Word (i.e. Genesis 3:1 — Has God said?). It is facilitated by a lack of focus and training in doctrine and apologetics, and is fueled by anti-Christian influences at the university and a desire to be “trendy” in “deconstructing” former long-held Christian beliefs, often leading to a total renunciation of sound faith. It is the latest iteration of the emergent church movement (Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Peter Enns, et al). McLaren, claiming to be a Christian, once wrote: “I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.” — A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 260.
This movement, engendering doubt about the reliability and authority of Scripture, echoes themes similar to Dan Brown’s famous work, The Da Vinci Code, and Bart Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus. The movement is infiltrating evangelical churches, the danger coming from within as professing Christians (even leaders!) sow doubt and introduce deception within the body. Jude 3 does not allow the Church to accommodate error in any degree. The Church is rather to contend —that is, literally, struggle—for the faith once delivered to the saints. That means surveying and analyzing all of those forces arrayed against us in the Great Battle. One of Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s last pleas in The Great Evangelical Disaster was for firm confrontation with compromising forces. He pressed for “Confrontation. Loving confrontation but, nevertheless, confrontation.”
9) The Court of Popular Opinion. This battlefront rages hotter and hotter as the Church increasingly apes the world and embraces personal comfort over suffering (for Christ). Then the enemy simply erodes courage and weakens the resolve of believers to speak up and defend essential Christian truth and values. He plays on the natural human desire to be well-liked (see John 12:43). But “Indeed, all who want to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13) Here Jesus speaks to His stalwart followers: “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
1 Peter 3:14-17: “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.“ Who are our heroes? Those who enjoy the approval of men or those being canceled for Christ?
10) Diversion and Divisiveness. The enemy has long engaged in diverting the focus of the Church, and on dividing the Church over non-essentials. Today new grist fuels his efforts to discredit Christian truth. In some cases the focus has been diverted from a priority on sound doctrine (Acts 2:42) to mere feelings and to Gospel Lite (health, wealth, positive thinking, e.g. Hinn, Copeland, Osteen). In 2021 COVID-related issues such as mask-wearing and the importance of vaccines fostered division as Christians neglected the counsel of Romans 14. Many believers have grown lax about regularly assembling together (Hebrews 10:25). Other issues in 2021 have resulted in great discord in the Southern Baptist Convention. All of this deters the Church from her primary mission. Christians have become more and more unChristlike in their language, attitude, and demeanor toward those with whom they disagree, mimicking new lows of nastiness seen in politics and in the media, slurring other believers holding opposing views on non-essential doctrine.