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Transforming the Culture by Transforming People: Apologetics

I have been harping on this for some time, now, but a friend exposed me to Barna’s latest polling about the election which measured how Christians voted.

In brief:

  1. The Republican challenger generally won over a majority of people whose beliefs reflected a conservative Christian faith. For instance, he won 57% of those who strongly believed that the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches; 61% of adults who strongly affirmed a personal responsibility to share their religious faith with others; 63% of those who believe that Satan is a living, influential force; 64% who contend that a person cannot earn their salvation, that it is a gift from God; 60% of the adults who say that Jesus Christ never sinned; and 54% of the people who have an orthodox, biblical perception of who God is.
  2. Adults who claimed to be “absolutely committed to Christianity” voted overwhelmingly for Sen. McCain (59% to 40%). However, those who were only “moderately committed to Christianity” were overwhelmingly persuaded to back Sen. Obama (64% to 35%). People who called themselves Christians but said they were not committed to the faith also sided heavily with Sen. Obama (79% to 21%).

There is clearly a trend away from McCain depending on one’s positions regarding Christ and the conviction associated those convictions.  On the other hand, what did the ‘second largest voting block after Christians’ vote?  Atheists and agnostics…

Three-fourths of atheists and agnostics (76%) gave their vote to Sen. Obama, while only 23% backed Sen. McCain. That is a step up from the level of support Democrats have previously received from skeptics. In 2004, 64% of atheists and agnostics voted for Democratic challenger John Kerry

There is again a clear correlation between beliefs and the one receiving the vote.  I don’t perceive this as particularly insightful:  it isn’t brain surgery to deduce that one’s beliefs impact where one puts their vote.  However, my proposed solution doesn’t seem as obvious to the Christian church as it does to me:  if you want to transform the culture, raise up more educated, informed, passionate Christians.

I made this argument in a well received WorldNetDaily article several months back.  For example, I said:

Putting our attention on our apologetics and evangelism efforts [rather than legislation] puts it in a place that treats the root issue: the heart condition of each human soul. A person who sees that God’s plan for the human body was not arbitrary and capricious will not need the force of law to check his sexual ambitions. A person who sees that life is in the hands of the Life Giver does not need legislation to tell her to keep her baby. Moreover, is it not the case that far from simply prohibiting certain behaviors, we are concerned about the individual souls engaged in them? Of course.

I say that this essay was well received- and it was.  However, as near as I can tell, the Christian church hasn’t taken any steps to act on these principles.  Churches are not adding staff apologists, for example.  There isn’t a big move to implement apologetic programs.  In fact, if anything the anti-intellectualism of a ‘we have faith in Jesus, we don’t need anything else’ attitude seems to be popping up on my radar even more.

This is not to demean legislative efforts.  As I said in the WND article, I think they have their place.  To me, however, the mere fact that we need legislative efforts means we’ve already lost.  Legislative efforts (in a world without judicial activists) imply having more people voting in favor of your position than the other- Barna’s polling shows the effects of such correlations- so a perfectly plausible approach (to me) would be to focus on changing people’s minds.  Change their minds on the big metaphysical issues, and this will trickle down as they grasp the practical implications.

So, providing Obama doesn’t do anything glaringly outrageous, I will likely not speak much more about the election on this blog.  That he will sign the “Freedom of Choice Act” is something that is obvious and requires no additional comment.  Such an act would be par for the course.  Assuming he doesn’t do anything more radical than I already expect him to do, I will return this blog to primarily taking my own advice:  persuading people to Christianity.


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