Your Legacy: What Will It Be?
I was surprised last month when I received my August newsletter from the radio ministry Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. Dr. Dobson is a very trusted source as a psychologist, Christian leader, and defender of the family. The newsletter’s envelope had a statement printed on it that said in effect, “Welcome to post- Christian America”.
Post-Christian America? I recall when I was in seminary in the 1980’s I heard about post-Christian Europe, especially continental Europe. I was told that churches in France were more museums than churches. When Elena and I lived in Scotland from 1990-1995 we found that only 10% of Britain regularly attended church worship, compared with 50% for the U.S. — which I understand has now dipped to 20%. Such things as secular attitudes, skepticism to the supernatural, and disrespect for the authority of the Bible have permeated European culture. The frightening thought at the time was the possibility that this could happen to the United States. Unfortunately, over the last seven years we have witnessed the shocking truth that post-Christianity has now travelled the ocean and entrenched itself on American soil.
The point here is not that the U.S. should become a theocracy along the lines of Iran or the Taliban. The Bible should not be our government’s Constitution. Nevertheless, what has kept our nation strong is its Christian values. These values protect the intrinsic rights and value of the individual, give clear, healthy definitions of right and wrong, and encourage a strong sense of honor to the Creator. Lest we forget, the U.S. has been the envy of the world, not just financially and materially, but morally as well. Our recent lurch into post-Christian values doesn’t mean we have progressed to a new utopia, but rather we have regressed to neo-paganism with its human-centered, experienced-based, “what’s in it for me?” value system.
For Dr. Dobson, and many other Christian leaders, a significant indicator of post-Christianity in the U.S. is the embrace of same-sex marriage by many. Dr. Dobson in his August newsletter makes the following astute observation. “This [U.S. Supreme] Court decision [from June] is not about same-sex marriage, except only tangentially. Many gay and lesbian groups have admitted that marriage has never been their primary objective. Instead, it is about everything else. What’s at stake is the entire culture war. To begin, it is an expression of hostility toward people who take their Christianity seriously. As you probably know, certain groups and organizations hate us. It is about weakening the Church of Jesus Christ and limiting what pastors and ministers can say and do publically. It is about undermining the religious liberties of Christians that are guaranteed by the by the Constitution. It is about attacking Christian schools, Christian non-profit organizations such as Family Talk, and Christian businesses, hospitals, charities, and seminaries. It is about Christian colleges and universities, and about whom their leaders choose as professors and what their students will be taught. It’s about government funding and accreditation. It is all at risk. You’ll see” (emphasis his).
What are Christians to do? Much prayer is of course needed. And we can do some self-examination and ask ourselves, what legacy am I leaving my children and others? A good work ethic? A well-rounded education? Vacations and experiences around the country and world? All of these are fine, but by themselves they miss the mark for the Christian. For Christians, the legacy worthy of their blood, sweat, and tears is centered in saving souls for eternity and shepherding those souls to Christian maturity where the final authority for one’s life is the Bible.
This September 16th I will begin teaching a course that will help us with leaving such a legacy. The course is based on Dr. Dobson’s book Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift, which he has called “the most significant” book he has written. I hope you will read the brief article in this newsletter on the course and make plans to join us.
Yours in the Legacy of Christ,