By Janis Backing
CHICAGO – “The culture war is over-and we lost.” So says Dr. J. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody Bible Institute, in his latest book, Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture (Moody Publishers).
However, this is not an alarmist rallying cry nor a white-flag opus, but rather a prophetic call for American Christians to prepare to live righteously in the face of persecution, not pining for the “good old days.”
For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution-the societal marginalization of believers with a view to eliminating their voice and influence. “We’ve enjoyed freedom and respect from broader society for our entire lives. With those privileges rapidly disappearing, we don’t know how to respond,” the author explains.
American believers expect their lives to be marked by general prosperity and societal acceptance … persecution is strange. But biblically, it’s reversed. “The American church has missed a vital element of discipleship. Important spiritual formation cannot be realized without experiencing suffering,” Dr. Nyquist says.
With America’s cultural shift, the church has an opportunity to revisit the New Testament and learn how to apply the many passages on persecution in new ways, he adds: “Persecution gives us the chance to demonstrate to a watching and hostile world what true discipleship looks like. Persecution supplies the life-shaping tools God skillfully uses to mold us into Christ’s image. It’s the next chapter in our stories. Now’s the time to prepare.”
It looks like a recipe for depression. Our beloved nation wracked by cultural change, once-protected freedoms evaporating, the persecution of believers looming. Anyone with sense would either stock up on Valium or claim a cave in Montana. But as Christians we have reason to hope.
“Since before America’s founding, this land has been the scene of gracious visits from God through revival,” the author notes.
He concludes, “If God graciously visits this land in a powerful way, the current cultural trends will be immediately arrested, biblical values will return, and the threat of persecution will disappear. And you won’t need this book. May we each fervently pray to that end.”