A Turn Back to Christ

Woman is sitting in a church and praying.
Steave Gipson is pastor at the Church of Christ of Exeter.

Richard Dawkins has spent much of his career trying to convince people that Christianity is nonsense that must be expunged from Western society. His 2006 book, The God Delusion, has arguably been the most influential atheist book of the last fifty years. Millions have read his books, essays, and articles. He has debated prominent Christians. His teachings have been the bedrock of the neo-atheist movement in the 21st century.

Recently, however, Dawkins has been singing a different song. Earlier this month, he expressed horror that Ramadan was being celebrated at Oxford Street in London. He said, “I do think that we [the United Kingdom] are a culturally Christian country. I call myself a ‘cultural Christian.’” He’s not the only one. Throughout the United States and Europe people are seeing that the shift away from Christ has not been for the better.

Jordan Peterson is a prominent voice in the current political and theological discourse. Though he is an evolutionary psychologist, he understands a lot about the Bible and has meaningful insight about God’s Word. His wife was recently baptized into the Catholic Church. Peterson is, himself, not a Christian. Instead, he states that he “behaves as though God were real.”

So many people who have spent so much time leading people away from Christ now want people back in church. They are beginning to understand that most of what is good about Western civilization was created by people who loved God. Without the church, the world has become a more desperate, combative, and cynical place. Now, they want to turn back the clock but that is, of course, impossible.

The obvious problem is that, without a belief in the divinity and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no Christianity. The power to change lives and to change the world rests not in a set of teachings, but in the Holy Spirit.

In 2 Timothy 3:1–5, Paul writes, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

You cannot have godliness while denying the power of God. People can talk about the teachings of the New Testament but unless we are in Christ, we should not expect to be different from anyone else in the world. An appearance of godliness is façade without structure. We can’t return to goodness unless we return to Jesus Christ.

So, what do we do? We go out the way we came in. People did not fall out of church; they were pulled. There was a large, concerted effort to remove Christianity from public and private life. The case against God has been made forcefully and tirelessly. The case for a resurrected Christ and the evidence for the power of the Holy Spirit is much stronger. All we need to do is to give the Bible the time, space, and effort that has formerly been afforded to the false promises of utopian humanism.

We can turn our country back from the brink, but it will require good people to turn to Christ and for those in Christ to fearlessly proclaim the gospel. We must “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) in our homes, our schools, and our institutions. We cannot let those who proclaim truth to stand alone. We must support Christians in the public sphere and reject those who demean our God. The message of the gospel is powerful because Christ is powerful; it just requires the will to proclaim and defend it.

We must return to our churches. The “Body of Christ” on earth is the gathered believers who call upon the name of the Lord. The enemy is united and wants us to be separated, isolated, and alone. Divided, we have been conquered; together, we are “more than conquerors.” (Rom 8:37)

Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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