What is a believer to do when surrounded by a host of –ism’s seeking to silence and to undermine historic Christian faith and teachings? What should churches do when they find themselves on a collision course with sweeping cultural changes affecting mindset, morals and the meaning of life? Should believers and their churches try to coexist peacefully? Withdraw from the world? Change the world?
These were some of the issues considered at a one-day conference at Concordia on
Thursday, 16 October. Representatives of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) reflected on “Militant Secularism: Its Cause, Cost and Cure.” Special thanks to Terry Bodnar of FI Capital for sponsoring the event.
The presenters were Dr John Stephenson from Concordia, retired Anglican Bishop Donald Harvey from Newfoundland, Dr Joel Lehenbauer from the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, and Dr Jonathan Riches from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.
During the presentations and panel discussion it became clear that the 1960s were the pivotal years. This was a time when secularists seemed to be making progress, perhaps, as Bishop Harvey noted, because they encountered too little resistance from Christians. Dr Stephenson noted that those growing up during this era might rightly be considered victims as well as products since they were often deprived of insights and experiences common in former generations. Nevertheless, Dr Lehenbauer pointed out, there is still hope. Perhaps at no other time has North American culture so closely approximated the days of the early church. Then, and we pray now, the indifference and increasing hostility directed at the Christians provides a stimulus for Christian witness and renewal. Dr Riches further underscored the importance of churches and Christians not becoming too complacent or too quietistic, but daring to continue confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.
The full programme can be see here. Video recordings are available on our YouTube channel. The lectures are also available to download in audio format:
- Greying Canadians & Americans Today: Products & Victims of the 1960s (John Stephenson)
- She’s Gone, Boy … She’s Gone (Donald Harvey)
- Jesus as Culture Warrior? A Cross-shaped Strategy for Being Church in a Hostile Culture (Joel Lehenbauer)
- Culture of Want, Culture of Ruin? (Jonathan Riches)
More photos can be seen here.