Feature Article – Christian Inaction Creates Chaos

By Tyler Cochran, a law student at the University of Iowa and a master’s student at Houston Christian University.

College campuses are wracked by protests, another Mainline Protestant denomination is abandoning traditional norms for progressive ones, and the Boy Scouts are unmanning themselves (again!). If there’s one thing that’s clear from the events of the last month, it’s that Christians are still losing the culture war. And while we may rail against the degradation of our social institutions, we are accomplices to their destruction. Too often, instead of fighting for these institutions, Christians retreat into their safe spaces. The result is a total progressive conquest.  Just look at elite universities like Northwestern and Columbia — among others — who have fallen prey to the excesses of progressivism. While there’s nothing wrong with students exercising their rights to free expression, the current protests taking place around these campuses have been beset by allegations of antisemitism, violent confrontations, and illegal activity leading to scores of arrests.

Some universities have wielded a strong hand against the excesses of these protests. Others have wilted, acquiescing to the protestors’ demands. But even when university presidents withstand the pressure and take measures to protect students and their campuses, they have often been met with pushback from faculty. This should come as no surprise since these institutions have very little Christian presence. Unfortunately, universities aren’t the only social institutions plagued by a progressive spirit in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the United Methodist Church (UMC) embraced heterodoxy by voting to lift its ban on LGBT clergy and same-sex weddings, becoming the most recent Mainline Protestant denomination to sacrifice biblical truth at the altar of progressive ideology. The result of this vote should have surprised absolutely no one after thousands of predominantly orthodox congregations left the UMC despite the orthodox position on the issue of same-sex relations being upheld at the church’s General Conference in 2019.

Yet, the losses for traditionalism in our social institutions don’t end there. The Boy Scouts of America announced last week that they are rebranding the organization “Scouting America.” This rebranding is just the most recent move to emasculate the organization in the name of inclusivity as the announcement coincides with the fifth anniversary of their decision to welcome girls into the Scouts. The domination of these social institutions, and others, by progressives, demonstrate the ruinous effects of decades of Christian inaction. At least since the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s, Christians have frequently embraced a mentality of retreatism whenever progressives and liberals infiltrate the institutions they are a part of. They may fight for a time, but, in the end, when things get tough, Christians retreat.

While retreat may often seem to be a tool of last resort to preserve the traditions of whatever once great institution has fallen under the spell of malignant ideologies, it empowers the enemies of tradition by ceding to them institutional power and all the resources, community connections, and cultural cachet that comes with it. What’s more, a policy of perpetual retreat moves Christians to the fringe unnecessarily. When Christians abandon mainstream institutions, they don’t create new ones so much as conservative safe spaces. Schools like Hillsdale College and denominations like the Anglican Church in North America are among the few bulwarks holding steady against the radical progressive ideology that has conquered their mainstream counterparts. But these organizations aren’t enough to withstand the progressive onslaught facing conservatives.

Mainstream institutions like Harvard, Yale, and the historic Mainline denominations have resources and prestige that are not easily replicated, especially by organizations that appeal primarily to those already right-of-centre. And the reality is that mainstream institutions remain the principal pathways to power. The historic denominations control renowned seminaries and hospitals, and the political conservatives continue to dominate Wall Street, the courtroom, and the halls of Congress. What happens in the mainstream institutions doesn’t stay there, it trickles down infecting everything below it from culture to K-12. Moreover, by choosing to occupy a place on the margins of society and surrendering mainstream institutions to progressives, Christians also allow for more radical beliefs on the fringes of progressivism to be gradually normalized. Many of the problems facing institutions today have their roots decades in the past.

William F. Buckley in 1951 in God and Man at Yale bemoaned the ongoing liberalization of higher education and  B.B.Warfield was already resisting the biblical scepticism of critical scholarship in the 19th century. But instead of practicing patience in the face of these challenges, Christians retreat, assured of the righteousness of their wrath. This must stop. It’s time to take the fight back to these key institutions. And it’s time we started fighting for something not just against something. Christians can no longer be content with merely conserving the cold cliches of tradition. It must revive the institutions that help give them life. Christians must seek out leadership opportunities, recruit like-minded people, and form bonds of fellowship within mainstream institutions. If we desire to strive for what is good, we must root out falsehood in a spirit of love refusing to surrender ourselves to panic and despair. And that means reforming social institutions like universities, churches, and community organizations — not abandoning them.

Source: Tyler Cochran

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