Two things you are never supposed to talk about – religion and politics. In reality, we are preoccupied with both, and along with that, have increased anxiety and disagreements.
I’m not a “the sky is falling” type of person, but I think we need to be aware of the shifts in our culture and their potential affects on and in the church.
In today’s blog, I describe some critical issues, along with some open-ended questions to think about.
Socialism. All economic systems have shortcomings. However, there is increasing disillusionment with capitalism, juxtaposing a growing infatuation with socialism. Consider this: The top ten billionaires made $3.9 trillion during the pandemic, enough money to vaccinate everyone in the world. At the same time, an additional 200 to 500 million people fell below the poverty line. (Source: Insider).
Questions: What is the Christian response to the inequities in our present system? What can we do to help the poor? Which economic system do you think is more consistent with following Christ, capitalism or socialism? Why?
Censorship. Recently a group of liberal authors and professors wrote an open letter calling out the “cancel culture.” (Source: https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/) In their letter, they write, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted… censorship is spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”
Questions: Where do you see censorship in our culture? With various people and organizations being banned on social media, do you think your church could be restricted too? What about your accounts?
Tax Exemption. There are several arguments for revoking tax breaks for churches. “We need more taxes.” “Look at the abuses!” “It doesn’t seem fair.” Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, in supporting the LBGTQ community, predicted that, “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.”
Questions: What do you think of people’s concerns about the church’s tax exemptions? What would happen if your church lost its exemption status? What would be the impact? Could your local church survive? Do your personal tax deductions increase personal giving? Should it? Why or why not?
Public Education. The classroom continues to be more secular and more secluded. During the COVID lockdowns, one Tennessee school district was under fire for asking parents to sign a form agreeing not to listen to the teaching in their kids’ online classes. Many wonder what they are trying to hide and why the need to exclude adult supervision. As our culture moves farther into post-Christianity and further into progressivism, the absolutes of the Christian faith become more at odds with school cultures.
Questions: With our public education becoming more secular, what can the church do? How can the church support and encourage Christ-followers who are teachers, aides, and administrators in the public school? Should Christians be pulling their children out of public schools?
BEFORE YOU GO
What other issues would you add to my list? What are some of your answers to my questions? Love to hear your opinions.
3 Comments Add yours
I hope these are rhetorical conversation starting points.
An excellent text on how the Free Market is the most moral human economic system is the “Poverty of Nations” by Barry Asmus & Wayne Grudem.
Such great questions that not only churches but all of us who claim to follow Jesus will be called on to answer.
On Tax Exemption & The Church
After my first reply the other night, this portion of your post has continued to percolate in my mind.
What do you think of people’s concerns about the church’s tax exemptions?
+++>> The concerns are overblown and they point to a dependency on approval of the government rather than Christ.
What would be the impact?
+++>> It would be good! Pastors could grapple with the hardest cultural and societal topics without fear of triggering a financial crisis in their from a loss of tax status.
+++>>. Moreover, it would represent proactive preparation because in a post-christian America those tax benefits will eventually be lost. Better to prepare for it in our own time than forced into it by the non-believers.
Could your local church survive?
+++>> That’s an irrelevant question. Christ’s church will always survive. His obedient servants will meet in buildings, parks, basements, or caves. They will meet openly in the day or at night in secret when persecuted.
+++>> The better questions:
Are the local church members prepared for the coming persecution?
Are they as committed to Christ as he is to us?
Have they read the Bible and Foxes Book of Martyrs for motivation and inspiration?
Do they understand that in 2021 Christianity remains deeply persecuted in many Nations held up for political admiration?
Do your personal tax deductions increase personal giving?
Why or why not?
+++>>. The tithe is the beginning of obedience & thanks for Christ’s redeeming work. Sacrificial giving is a representation of our faith acting on God’s call in our lives. How the government treats the finances of believers does not exempt us from responding to God’s grace with our finances
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