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February 28, 2014

FIRST-PERSON: A lesson from the Puritans

By ZACH CROOK

A cursory glance at the state of cultural morality here in America can be somewhat disheartening.

The Defense of Marriage Act has been labeled unconstitutional. A health care reform act has been passed requiring all businesses, no matter the religious beliefs of the owners, to offer employees drugs that could cause abortions. Same-sex marriage is being legalized in states all over the nation.

If we can be honest for a few moments, we can realize that we now live in a post-Christian culture. The 1950s have come and gone and they aren’t coming back. For someone like me, the pastor of a Baptist church in the Bible Belt in Texas, I hear the alarmists sound the end of Christian influence and the demise of our country.

Culturally, it seems as though Christians have “lost” the battle. What was once considered taboo is now considered normal. There is no absolute truth. One’s gender is no longer determined by physiological make-up but by choice and feeling. God’s Word doesn’t seem to have much place in the public square. Now that we stand on the other side of a failed “moral majority,” there is one question everyone is asking: “What now?”

As is often the case, we can find direction for moving forward by studying the history of those who came before us. In many ways, the English Puritans of the late 16th century were undergoing the same sense of political failure that the Religious Right is experiencing now.

They had tried for decades to influence the politics of Elizabeth I and reform the Church of England and the religious state of their country.

They, much like our efforts in the 1980s and 1990s, were galvanized for a time in believing they could influence Elizabeth and the national church, only to realize that their efforts were ultimately futile. It was their response to their political shortcomings that sheds light on how a religious minority can still influence the future of a nation.

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