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How can we change the culture?

Our nation clearly needs moral and spiritual renewal.  How can we help?  What can we do to make a difference?  How do we become culture-changing Christians?

The way to change the world

James Davison Hunter's new book is titled, To Change the World. This University of Virginia sociology professor turned down an appointment to Princeton to continue his work with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.  He may be the most profound voice on culture change writing and speaking in America today.

How does he think culture is changed?  He begins with ways it is not.

Culture does not change by winning elections.  It is important for Christians to be engaged in public service.  In fact, I am convinced that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call.  But electing Christians to office is not enough to change the culture by itself.  For instance, during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush, divorce rates escalated.  Gay marriage made significant inroads in American culture during the presidency of the second George Bush.  Neither was their fault, of course, but both illustrate the fact that winning elections is not sufficient.

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What is the separation of church and state?

On Thursday, April 30, 1789, General George Washington was present for the first American president. As the General walked to the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, thousands of people jammed into the street below gave him a thunderous ovation. Suddenly the crowd became quiet as General Washington turned toward Judge Robert R. Livingston and placed his left hand on an opened Bible sitting upon a table beside him. He raised his right hand, and swore to "faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States."

There was a pause. Then the nation's first president added his own words, unscripted and unexpected: "I swear, so help me God." The president bent over and kissed the Bible. Then Justice Livingston turned to the crowd below and cried out, "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" People cheered. Church bells pealed. Cannons at the nearby fort fired a salute.

From that day to this, every President of the United States has followed George Washington's precedent, concluding the oath of office with the words, "So help me God." But what do they mean by their confession of faith? How should Americans understand the relation of church and state, faith and politics?

This essay is only an introduction to an extremely involved and somewhat controversial subject. We'll survey briefly the history of the debate, examine the question biblically, and seek relevant applications for our country and our lives today.

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Are We Rome? The fall of an empire and the future of America

Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before in human history. Some of these changes are interesting but not threatening:

  • One out of eight couples married in the U.S. last year met online.
  • More video was uploaded to YouTube in the last two months than if ABC, NBC, and CBS had been airing new content every minute of every day for the last 62 years.
  • MySpace would be the fifth-largest country in the world.
  • The number of text messages sent and received today will exceed the population of the planet.
  • In 25 years, the cell phone in your pocket will fit in a blood cell.
  • By 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capacities of the human brain. By 2049, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capacities of the entire human species.
Other changes are more worrisome:

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Does democracy require morality?

A cross atop a church with American flag below in the foreground (Credit: surpasspro via you could solve one problem in America today, what would it be? A recent survey asked a large number of Americans that question. Their #1 answer was, "restoring national economic stability." That's no surprise, in these days of recession. But tying for #1, ahead of "preventing terrorism" and "curing cancer," was: "restoring values and morality to society."

Imagine for a moment what would happen if Americans chose to live by biblical morality. For instance, the Bible says that sex outside of marriage is wrong. No standard could seem more outdated and irrelevant in our society. But what would happen if we lived by this one simple principle? Consider these facts:

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