Christian Living in a Post-Christendom America

The following is a modified manuscript/outline from a sermon I preached on 1 Peter 2:11-25 at Lake Drive Baptist Church in December 2013.
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I’ve entitled my sermon, “Christian Living in a Post-Christendom America.” What do I mean by “christendom”? “Christendom” refers to the “Christian Empire,” where Christianity is associated with the state, promoted by the state, or the dominant religion within the state.

In a sense, one could have previously referred to America as a form of this Christendom. But now days, it’s quite clear that we live in a post-Christendom America. –Not only non-Christian, but even increasingly anti-Christian.

A mere casual awareness of the news makes one aware of the rapid pace of secularization in our country. For example, only 17 years after President Clinton signed DOMA into law, President Obama successfully pushed for its repeal. And keep in mind, he entered office opposed to gay marriage. And the rapidness of this shift only mirrors trends in the general population. Or again, it only takes a brief glance at recent headlines to demonstrate this:

  • “Starbucks Enters Same-Sex Marriage Boycott Wars.”
  • “Supreme Court Will Consider Hobby Lobby Contraception Mandate Case.”
  • Referring to Chick-Fil-A: “‘Eat More Ignorance’ Is More Like It.”
  • “Southern Baptists Convention Fighting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal.”“Should the Boy Scouts of America Lift Its Ban on Gay Members?”
  • “New Mexico Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Against Discriminating Anti-Gay Photographer.”
  • “Judge Orders Colorado Bakery to Cater for Same-Sex Weddings.”
  • “‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Suspended for Anti-Gay Remarks.”

And without necessarily endorsing any of the parties in these conflicts– And no matter what you think about these controversies on a political level, they nonetheless indicate an increasing hostility and threat to Christian thought and values. … We live in an ever-increasingly secular culture.

So, how are we as Christians to respond? What does Christian living look like in a post-Christendom America? 1 Peter has much to say about how Christians should live within a non-Christian and even anti-Christian society.

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Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy

In Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy, two prominent argument-themes emerge. For that sake of organization, I’ll present this review according to those two categories.

The Kingdom Pattern

The fact that God acts in the history of men and interprets his acts means that these historical events will form a pattern that relates to the purpose of God [pg. 42].

And the central pattern that spans Biblical history, for Goldsworthy, is the concept of kingdom [42].

For Goldsworthy, the kingdom of God involves (a) God’s people, (b) in God’s place, (c) under God’s rule [53-54]. Both the content of the central Biblical covenants and the goal of redemption history is this kingdom of God [53]. Therefore, as an implication, under various Biblical covenants and within various eras of redemption history, different forms or stages of development of this kingdom exist on a trajectory ultimately consummating in the final realization of this kingdom in the Jesus Christ.

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The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson

Matt Chandler, with the help of Jared Wilson, has published his first book–The Explicit Gospel.

The Purpose

Summary

This book’s purpose is a negative one–to get its readers to the point of not assuming the Gospel. As Chandler states towards the end of his book,

Unless the gospel is made explicit, unless we clearly articulate that our righteousness is imputed to us by Jesus Christ, that on the cross he absorbed the wrath of God aimed at us and washed us clean–even if we preach biblical words on obeying God–people will believe that Jesus’ message is that he has come to condemn the world, not to save it.

But the problem is deeper than that and more pervasive. If we don’t make sure the gospel is explicit, if we don’t put up the cross and the perfect life of Jesus Christ as our hope, then people can get confused and say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus. I want to be saved. I want to be justified by God,” but then begin attempting to earn his salvation [pg. 208-209].

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The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

This is less of a review and more of a recommendation.

One of the ways I evaluate whether a book is really good is whether or not I will read it a second time. … A few weeks ago I finished this book for the second time.

As Mark Dever notes in the video below, his purpose for writing this book was to provide an excellent introductory level book (only 119 pages!) on evangelism written for the average Christian. But at the same time, although he speaks in common, easy-to-understand language, the instruction and insights in this book are deep and well-worth the meditations of any Christian.

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The Gospel & How to Present It

The following is an outline of my teaching notes for a course I taught at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp in the early summer of 2012. The course was a part of the summer staff’s pre-summer camp training.

This teaching material was later slightly developed and expanded upon for teaching the following year in the Sunday School at Lake Drive Baptist Church. It is this final form that is provided below.


Download – The Gospel & How to Present It.

Download Appendix – Acts ‘Gospeling’ Accounts Content Chart.