by James Dotson
The cultural decay of the past 30 years has begun to come full circle, according to evangelical commentator and author Charles W. Colson. Speaking at a Southern Baptist conference in Memphis in early October, Colson said statistics indicate that the tide is turning: Teenage pregnancies are at the lowest level since statistics began being recorded 40 years ago, he said. Crime is at the lowest level since 1973; welfare rolls have been cut in half; divorce is down 19 percent over the past 20 years; and the number of abortions has declined by 15 percent over the past 20 years.
Why the reversal? Colson pointed to the "modernist impasse"-the realization that the ideals of the ‘60s ultimately result in societal decay.
"The 60s culture became mainstream, and we see the quintessential expressions of the 60s today: ‘Do your own thing, live for the moment, overcome the nothingness of life, God is dead,'" he said. "It leads to moral chaos, and people can't live with that. And they're suddenly waking up to the fact that you simply can't survive in the moral jungle and can't live without rules."
That shift in thinking reached a critical point in April of 1999 with the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Colson said. "I think Columbine was the Pearl Harbor of the culture war in this country," he said. "I think people were forced to look at two diametrically opposed world views."
On one side was the nihilism of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who he said were bathed in popular culture and "disciples of Nietzsche, the one who said ‘God is dead.'" On the other side of the same event were "those incredible worship services" in the aftermath of the shootings that "celebrated Christ" and highlighted the faith of those killed.
"People watching those two world views at Columbine had to make that choice, and all of a sudden since Columbine we've been seeing some things change," Colson said.
A recent Wall Street Journal poll, he said, indicated that "84 percent of conservatives and 33 percent of liberals said the No. 1 priority was to restore respect for traditional values. A short while ago that was a pejorative term used against the religious."
In another recent poll, Colson said, 58 percent of Americans surveyed said they wanted more religion in American life, and 68 percent wanted creation taught alongside evolution in schools "That's after 75 years of being told that you are a know-nothing, if you thought that anything other than evolution is the true scientific answer," he noted.
The task for Christians, he said, is not just to plant more churches, but to "plant more churches that are truly the church." Too often, he said, evangelical Christians "are simply as confused as the world around us" when it comes to understanding and holding basic biblical doctrines. "Folks, we've got to get it right inside our churches before we can give it away outside our churches," he said. "... If we're going to go to war for God in this culture, we've got to understand what we believe."