Thoughts & Excerpts from Culture Shift by Al Mohler
Dr. Mohlerâ€™s stellar cultural and political commentaries on his daily blog made me curious about his new book on the subject ... a subject, frankly that I am usually skeptical about due to the many Christian books that overemphasize (or underemphasize) the importance of the Christian's cultural or political role, but we gladly recommend Al Mohlerâ€™s new book, which strikes the right balance. In Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth, Dr. Al Mohler crafts air-tight arguments against the intellectual dishonesty and bankruptcy of those who espouse a secularist state void of all religious influence. The book is a beautiful exercise in clear thinking, such that, it should lead Christians to engage and participate in the culture and the political process in meaningful ways. Mohler correctly notes that many Christians have the tendency to â€œswing between two extremes, either ignoring the City of Man or considering it to be our main concern â€¦ Love of neighbor for the sake of loving God is a profound political philosophy that strikes a balance between the disobedience of political disengagement and the idolatry of political as our main priority.â€
In chapter 3 of the book Mohler articulately exposes of the myth of the secular state, a position which I personally consider foundational if we are to actually have the opportunity to engage and persuade. The following are some extensive quotes from this chapter which expresses some very important basic truths that we should all take the time to understand. Mohler begins by explaining three secular myths:
â€œâ€¦The first is the myth of the secular state. Secularism is not a positive construct. By its very nature, something is secular only when it denies the existence of God â€¦ One cannot be genuinely secular and be indifferent to the existence of God. A call for an absolutely secular state â€¦ must deal with fundamental questions. They must deal with questions concerning life and death, questions about human identity, ultimate questions about existence and meaning in the universe. But the moment a state begins to deal with those fundamental questions, it ceases to be secular â€¦ even at a motivational level. When states begin to effect laws and codify some morality, there is no way it can remain purely secular, because any question that addresses itself to the meaning of life and death, for example, must be considered in terms much larger than secular theory will allow. There is no truth secular state.â€
Mohler goes on:
â€œSecond is the myth of a secular argument. No argument is irreducibly secular, for anyone who wants to make an argument about anything beyond procedure will have to deal with questions about meaning, morality and value â€“ questions that are larger than any individual human frame of reference. On issues like these there are no arguments that are genuinely secular. As a matter of fact, listen carefully to those who most seek to advocate purely secular arguments. On questions of meaning and morality, there arguments themselves are just as essentially religious as the â€œreligiousâ€ arguments they reject. They may believe their claims are not religious, but they end up being religious precisely because they are anti-religious. Moreover they attempt to set up their own version of God â€“ their own idea of what is ultimate good - in order to determine value.
â€¦There is no genuinely secular state, no secular argument, and no secular motivation, even among those who consider themselves secular. There is no neutrality. On questions as ultimate as the existence and non-existence of God, or the binding or non-binding character of His dictates and commands, or the objectivity or subjectivity of morality, or the absoluteness or non-absoluteness of truth, there are no mediating positions. There is no neutrality.
Insofar as the law deals with what is more important, it must deal with ultimate issues like these. The law certainly deals with some issues of mere procedure and with policies that are not inherently freighted with moral importance. Yet on these issues, we do not have intense public controversies â€¦ but over whether a human embryo is recognized as bearing the dignity of human life, and thus deserving of protection.
To argue over issues like these is to argue at a level far above a secular plane. It is to argue at a level of moral ultimacy â€“ some from one perspective, some from another, but none from a genuinely secular perspective. Therefore, if we accept the argument that Christian moral arguments are forbidden entry into the public space, we have decided not only to violate the clear intention of our Constitutionâ€™s framers â€¦ but we have privileged one form of religious discourse over another. That is, we have privileged irreligious religious discourse over self-consciously religious discourse.
Furthermore, how can a society deal with ultimate issues if the only people who are genuinely allowed into the discussion are those who believe there is nothing more ultimate than our own existence [something clearly not self-evident], our own communal negotiation of moral questions? If we ever reach such a point, we will have become a civilization not even remotely like the one established by our Founders â€¦ Where can we find an adequate rationale for restricting human conduct on purely secular grounds?â€
Obviously there are no grounds for pushing anyone out of the public square, secular or Christian. But the modern secular argument would do just that by claiming their own arguments as exempt from the separation of church and state, when their moral dogmas should fall under the same category. The purpose of â€œseparationâ€ was not to limit the speech of any group, but to make sure that no one group had a monopoly on it. But, with great irony, isnâ€™t this exactly what the secular argument proposes? To marginalize any ideas that are inherently religious but allow exclusivity to those which propose â€œsecularâ€ arguments? Is this not establishing the very tyranny they wish to avoid? The intent of a truly secular society is to be inclusive, not exclusive. All citizens should be a part of the conversation, even those we ardently disagree with. The same limits that are imposed on religious folks should be imposed on secularists. We have a deliberate democratic process in our nation and so Christian discourse, among others, should not be marginalized or eliminated.
â€œThe risk of being offended is simply part of what it means to live in a diverse culture that honors and celebrates free speech. A right to free speech means a right to offend; otherwise the right would need no protection.â€ Al Mohler
Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth by Albert Mohler