Some chant, “Make America great again!” Others respond, “America was never great” and point to either the failures of some of our founding fathers or the exaggeration of those failures. The danger of the cancel culture is found in the words of Winston Churchill as he paraphrased a statement made by George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Marxism is a failed idea. The idea of a state creating a utopian society has proven not only wrong-headed but dangerous. But one of the key philosophies of Marxists is to redefine history in a way that is designed to create a narrative that is conducive to their goals.
Thene there is the idea that everything will be great if we could only get back to a previous time in our history. That idea is just as wrong as Marxism. We are not going back to some real or imagined golden era in our history. The desire many have to “reclaim our culture” is a pipe-dream at this point. We have fallen too far. We deny any truth but our personal truth. And we censure any thought or speech that doesn’t agree with the accepted, politically correct view. While Martin Luther King Jr. longed for an age where people are judged “by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin,” today people are lumped together and condemned because of their nationality. They are told they have no right to speak, only listen. If they do speak it is because they are trying to keep others oppressed. Historically Marxism champions such division, it doesn’t seek to resolve it. The cultural Marxism that dominates are current culture (and most don’t even realize its presence) has become such a dominant voice that we are wasting our time trying to redeem our current western culture.
As Christians, maybe our focus should be on reclaiming the modern church rather than reclaiming culture. The message from the Lord of the church to Sardis I think is a message we as the modern church need to take to heart: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive — but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” (Revelation 3:1–3, NLT).
For the first three centuries, the church had no political influence on culture. Christians were despised, persecuted and killed. They only power they wielded was the love their Savior said would mark them. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34–35, NLT). Many of the freedoms we assume in the west today were won for us by these early Christians.
But then, around 312 A.D., it is reported that Constantine had a vision telling him to conquer under the sign of the cross. Such a sign goes against the instruction of Jesus (see Matthew 26:51-53) so I, for one, doubt very much this was a “heavenly sign,” and what followed historically I think bears witness to the accuracy of my view. Almost overnight it seems that the church traded the mark Jesus for political clout with the State. This marriage has been disastrous for the church. Quickly the persecuted became the persecuting, and the church it seems has come to believe that our powers come from the State rather than from the God of Heaven. The result is our real influence (love as Jesus loved) has been sacrificed for a false position of power. Rather than being the salt and light Jesus said we should be, often we have substituted bullying (trying to use laws that are favorable for us) for the real power Jesus said we were to have: His love lived out. Thus we have today what the Apostle warned the church against in or around 66 A.D., “and will act as if they serve God but will not have his power. Stay away from those people.” (2 Timothy 3:5, NCV). Reclaim the church and we will transform our culture.