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ARTICLE: Why I Use Fighting Words

A response to John Woodbridge's Culture War Casualties.
1995This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY graciously offered me an opportunity to respond to John Woodbridge's lead article in the March 6 issue, entitled "Culture War Casualties: How Warfare Rhetoric Is Hurting the Work of the Church." Despite considerable disagreement with the author, my first reaction was to decline. I didn't have time to reply, and furthermore, I dislike public debates with a fellow believer who has spent a lifetime in service to the Lord. But when I saw the prominence given to Woodbridge's article and the flaws in his logic, I felt I had to reply. I do so now in a spirit of charity, despite the differing perspective from which I come.

The thesis of "Culture War Casualties" was best portrayed by the photograph chosen to illustrate the article. A portrait of Jesus, looking sad and wounded, was depicted in a frame with broken glass. It appeared that someone had either taken a shot at the picture or hit it with a brick. Who would do such a thing to a portrait of our Lord? It didn't take long for Woodbridge to tell us "who done it."

The offenders, he asserted, are people such as myself who employ the language of warfare to describe the cultural upheaval we are currently enduring. Use of such terms as "battlefields" and the "civil war of values" (which Gary Bauer and I described in our book "Children at Risk") is destructive to the cause of Christ. We and other intemperate authors have cracked the glass of Christendom and inflicted regrettable harm on the church.

Hoping not to be defensive, let me offer a counterargument to the charges made by Dr. Woodbridge.

First, he may have forgotten that today's defenders of righteousness did not invent the analogy to warfare. I grew up in the church singing "Onward Christian soldiers, marching ...

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