Last month marked a milestone: This column survived one year in print. That seems an appropriate occasion to explain why I take pen in hand each month to brave both editor’s scalpel and occasional storms of mail from aroused readers. The letters you’ve written have ranged from encouraging to scathing. They have been, well, invigorating. At times, I confess, I have wondered why I didn’t stay on safe ground, writing about devotional topics rather than controversial issues like terrorism and the Supreme Court.

But that’s just the point. If Christianity is true, then it bears on every aspect of life—and we must seek to examine all things temporal in light of the eternal. If we confine our faith to just “spiritual” topics, we begin to think inwardly, talk only to ourselves, and make little impact on our world.

I think there is a tendency to do just that. Several years ago a Christian friend, the editor of a major U.S. newspaper, told me he had added several religion writers to his staff. “Look at the religion page,” he enthused. “We’re doubling the coverage!” He apparently believed that meant he was doubling his witness for Christ.

But just writing about religion is not the same as making a Christian impact on our culture. Pollsters tell us that 50 million Americans say they are born again. Evangelicals have come out of the closet in recent years, accompanied by a surge of Christian books, records, celebrities, and candidates.

No doubt about it, religion is up. But so are values unremittingly opposed to the truth of Christianity: one out of every two marriages shatters in divorce; one out of three pregnancies terminates in abortion. Homosexuality is no longer considered depravity, but an “alternative lifestyle.” Crime continues to soar—in “Christian” America there are 100 times more burglaries than in “pagan” Japan.

That is the great paradox today: Sin abounds in the midst of unprecedented religiosity. If there are so many of us, why are we not affecting our world?

I believe it is because many Christians fall into the same trap my editor friend did. We compartmentalize our faith, treating it like a section of the newspaper. It is sandwiched in our schedules between relatives and running, one of many activities competing for our attention.

Not that we aren’t serious about it. We spend time in prayer, worship, and weekly Bible studies. But, of course, we are serious about our jobs, fitness, and families as well.

British writer Harry Blamires addresses this dilemma in The Christian Mind. The typical believer, he says, works side by side with a secularist, prays sincerely about his work, but never talks candidly with his colleagues about what motivates his plans and policies—because he is in a secular environment. When it comes to his spiritual life, he feels comfortable evaluating that in a biblical context.

The result is an artificial dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. On the one hand are “Christian” topics like spiritual growth or discipleship; we think Christianly about such things. On the other hand is the world at large—which we evaluate in secular terms.

This spiritual schizophrenia results in believers bouncing back and forth between their secular and Christian mentalities as the conversation changes from the stock market to sanctification.

Such categorizing would be logical if Christianity were nothing more than a moral code or a set of profound teachings. It would then be just another of life’s disciplines, something like yoga, Alcoholics Anonymous, or self-help courses.

But Christianity asserts itself as the central fact of human history: The God who created man invaded the world in the person of Jesus Christ, died, was resurrected, ascended, and lives today, sovereign over all.

If this claim is valid—if Christianity is historically true—then it is not simply a file drawer in our crowded lives. It is the central truth from which all behavior, relationships, and philosophy must flow.

Blamires describes our predicament well: “As a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularizaion. He accepts religion—its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal.”

And as a result of our failure to apply Christian truth to all of life, the secular mindset enjoys a virtually unchallenged monopoly in the forum of public debate.

Last March the Journal of the American Medical Association published “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” an article describing the medical causes of Christ’s death. Within days the magazine received an avalanche of angry letters, attacking it for publishing religious material. One writer accused the journal of “disguising theological, we dare say, fundamentalist biases.”

This seems a rather hysterical response to what few, Christian or pagan alike, would discount as historical fact. Whether he was the Son of God or not—the article did not assert Christ was resurrected—there was a historical figure named Jesus who was crucified. But the reaction illustrates how defensive secularists can become when their monopoly on the mainstream of cultural communications is challenged.

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The problem is, we Christians allow this reaction to intimidate us. We withdraw from the fray, spending most of our time talking only to each other. We fail to bring the Christian mind to bear against the prevailing secular assumptions that define modern values.

But as Christian scholar and former president of the United Nations Charles Malik has said, “The problem is not only to win souls, but to save minds.” We tend to venture out of our burrows only to conduct evangelistic outreaches; while we must preach the gospel, we must also seek to present a persuasive Christian view on the everyday issues of our culture.

This, then, is why I take pen in hand each month. If Christianity is true—as I fervently believe—then I must continue to explore the issues of the day, Bible in one hand and the morning’s newspaper in the other.

Blamires sadly asserts, “There is no Christian mind.” Nothing could more profoundly alter the character of our culture than for the millions who claim to be born again to prove him wrong.

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