In the last century, our social order has been radically desacralized. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer described this as a “world come of age,” in which Westerners attempt to manage life without God. Sociologist Philip Rieff deemed this a third era in world history, an age in which social order has been severed from sacred order and in which the West’s cultural institutions and products are “deathworks” that bring destruction and decay to society rather than life.

What is true for the West in general is true for the United States in particular. Orthodox Christianity has been decentered socially, culturally, and politically. Although we have made incremental progress in our advocacy for the unborn and for certain other causes, at the same time our society has embraced destructive views on gender, sexuality, and family.

As America’s roots in Christianity are severed, we must unify and learn to minister effectively, even from the margins. When the newly-risen Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father sent me, so I send you,” he showed them the holes in his hands and side, indicating that they would face opposition in their public witness just as he had. “If I reigned from a tree,” Jesus effectively said, “then you can minister from a tree also.”

To read the rest of this article, originally published at First Things Magazine, click here.


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