Our coins say it--"In God We Trust." But surveys indicate that fewer and fewer Americans actually put their trust in God. For many, God seems to get in the way. To some, God and his commandments are the creation of an archaic Judeo-Christian belief system that just impedes needed cultural transformation.
Coverage of the recent statements by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson have focused primarily on his statements regarding homosexual behavior. But the subsequent reaction has revealed a deep divide in our culture.
Ron Highfield's faith-affirming book, "God, Freedom & Human Dignity," explores the impact of centuries of Enlightenment thinking on modern day moral judgment and contrasts that with America's long-standing Judeo-Christian moral foundation. While those with a secular view look within themselves for moral sources and authority, Christianity points to a transcendent God who is Lord, creator, and man's ultimate judge.
Such a difference invites conflict. Highfield writes, "For many people, Christian calls for obedience to the divine law, for repentance and moral transformation sound like recipes for oppression." Approaching people today with any hint of such judgment just triggers a reaction of defiance or indifference.
Highfield draws on Alasdair MacIntyre's book, After Virtue, to help understand contemporary moral thinking. Highfield explains that MacIntyre noted three activities characteristic of moderns: "The arbitrary claim to possess rights, the inclination to protest and the strategy of unmasking. The self asserts certain rights against other people, but can offer no rational justification for these claims. Hence, when the self feels that its rights are violated, the facade of rational argument quickly falls away leaving nothing but protest and indignation. Protest, according to MacIntyre, is a 'distinctive feature of the modern age.'"
The Robertson protest has fueled an equally strong reaction--"Fire Robertson" vs "Bring Him Back!" But let me take a step back from this battle to attempt to bring some less emotional clarity to the evangelical Christian world view that some attack as "offensive:"