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Counterculture?

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler says Southern Baptists must change or go the way of mainline protestant churches in the last two decades of Century #20.

Mohler says biblical Christianity is countercultural. “If we stand by the scriptures, we’re going to have to say hard things to a culture around us that will consider us backward, unloving, intolerant,” he adds.

There can be no question. By the standards at press-time, New Testament scriptures were profoundly counter-cultural, no matter how you read them. In 2009, complicated by the fact that there isn’t any universal agreement on how to read or respond to the scriptures themselves, I have trouble seeing “scriptural” Christianity in counter-cultural terms. The notion that the Kingdom of God is within may be counter-cultural in political terms, but in spiritual ones it almost defines the modern Western zeitgeist.

But the elements that are read in support of backwardness, intolerance, or unlovingness… unfortunately, those aren’t quite “counter-cultural” yet. I’d say that the position of that brand of religion is a dilemma between abandoning those views and advancing with the culture on the one hand and on the other hand, re-asserting the dominance of those views and trying to hold the culture back.

And that’s something, I guess that the Southern Baptists will have to figure out for themselves. But as I mentioned earlier this week, this brand of religion doesn’t have to automatically vote for a type of counter-cultural system that puts them at odds with the well-being of other folks. There are other options available. And, to his credit, Mohler seems to be cognizant of this:

“Southern Baptists still look like white-bread Protestantism, middle-class America, still concentrated in the South, and still focused on North America. We’re going to have to be missional, directed outward, uncranky, visionary, oriented to the future, happy and joyful in claiming and assuming the responsibility that Christ has invested in us and being faithful to that

There’s a more laudable self-assessment and set of goals, and I wish them the best of luck on those matters. I think that pursuing this direction will necessarily leave behind the negative views already discussed.

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