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Toward a Biblical Agenda for Cultural Transformation

Recently in sun-splashed (and wine-enriched!) Napa Valley, Andrew Sandlin ("AS"), executive director of Chalcedon; Colonel Doner ("CD"), chairman of the Samaritan Group and architect of the "Old" Religious Right; and Monte Wilson ("MW"), president of Global Impact, engaged in an informal roundtable discussion on the past and the prospects of the Religious Right. Below are excerpts of that discussion.

  • P. Andrew Sandlin,
  • Colonel V. Doner,
  • View More Authors
  • Monte E. Wilson, III
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Recently in sun-splashed (and wine-enriched!) Napa Valley, Andrew Sandlin ("AS"), executive director of Chalcedon; Colonel Doner ("CD"), chairman of the Samaritan Group and architect of the "Old" Religious Right; and Monte Wilson ("MW"), president of Global Impact, engaged in an informal roundtable discussion on the past and the prospects of the Religious Right. Below are excerpts of that discussion.

AS: Colonel, because of your history with the Christian Right in the 70s and 80s, can you give us background information about Paul Weyrich and the controversial letter he released in February (quoted in part on pp. 3,4)?

CD: It is ironic that it took Paul Weyrich, who has never been a leader of the Evangelical Right, to sound the death knell of the political salvationism the Christian Right has been desperately clinging to for the last several decades.

Paul is the pre-eminent political strategist in Washington, D.C. for the conservative movement. He has been the conservative "godfather" for the last 30 years. He more or less founded the so-called New Right. He gave Jerry Falwell the name "Moral Majority" for the movement that bore that name, and he is still considered the major conservative player in Washington. Many congressmen and senators regard him as the foremost conservative leader. So he has tremendous prestige.

This communiqué that he issued seemed to be based on several premises. I think Paul has been an ultimate pragmatist and it took a pragmatist to note that thirty years of labor in the political vineyards had not produced the results that were expected. Paul identified two faulty premises that the conservative movement had been operating on. The first was that if Christian conservatives elected a Republican or even a conservative majority, they would enact a Christian agenda. Clearly that did not happen. The Republican majority failed to pass our agenda.

What we are here to discuss today is Paul's second premise: The Christian Right has been operating under the assumption that a majority of Americans agreed with our values, i.e., that we are the Moral Majority. Paul is saying that this assumption is wrong — that the majority of voters do not agree with our values. He bases this on the fact that the public gave Bill Clinton such a high (66%) approval rating in the polls, in effect giving him a "pass" on the impeachment process. Paul also points to several other examples from states where the Christian Right has worked for a long time. In Colorado and Washington, for example, we can't seem to pass a ban on partial birth abortions. He uses these and other examples to say it is hopeless, we have lost the culture wars, and the people no longer share our values. That is his premise. He went on to suggest that we should basically drop out of the political process. We could expect a dispensationalist to come to that conclusion. But for Paul Weyrich, America's number one conservative political activist for the last thirty years, to say it is quite a shock.

AS: Monte, Paul coined the term Moral Majority. He says that conservative Christians now have only a moral minority. In fact, that was the title of his Washington Post article: "The Moral Minority." Do you think he has given a fair assessment about the sentiments of the American people? Do you think he has read the polls accurately and interpreted them properly for his audience?

MW: I do not believe that his assessment is or was sufficiently nuanced. The surveys and polls that I have read recently, while they don't say that we are having a spiritual revival, would give a different slant than Paul has. In fact, only a few months ago pundits and personalities like Tony Snow and Rush Limbaugh were touting numerous surveys noting the progress conservatives have made on the cultural front since the early 70s until now, twenty-five years later. There is great progress among those who would say, "Abortion should not be practiced, adultery is wrong, illicit drugs are wrong, etc."

I think Paul has made his assessment based on the whole debacle with the President and Monica Lewinski: people did not seem to want the President to be impeached. The surveys and polls were clear that the people believed that what Clinton did was morally reprehensible and wrong. They did not believe, however, that his conduct was impeachable. Now, however much we may disagree or agree with those sentiments, it still says that the majority of Americans do not agree with libertarians or libertines who say that there are no morals or absolutes, or that fidelity does not matter.

What we have today is a privatization of morals, where moral issues are just between the individual and God, etc. That's problematic, to say the least. However, I do not believe that we have lost the cultural wars. I think we are making incredible progress.

CD: Not just in the President's case, but in others, people are separating "private" conduct from "public" office. The theory seems to be that you can be basically a disgusting person privately, and it does not harm your public performance. Of course, having no connection between personal character and public performance of duties represents an extremely dangerous breakdown of our moral and social fabric. It stems from the relativism of modern society that the evangelical world has also bought into. Some recent studies have shown that 70% of evangelicals say that what is true for one person may not be true for another — that truth is essentially relative. Maybe in those terms, Paul Weyrich is correct that we have lost a cultural war because previously in our society the majority would have held that if a man's convictions are that loosely moored to any moral standard, he is not fit to serve.

Paul Weyrich and Monte are at odds as to whether we are gaining or losing ground in the cultural wars. I think an important question is where you date the process. If Paul is saying we have gone terribly downhill and he is using the 40s or the 50s as an example, then he is probably correct. We have lost a tremendous amount of ground. If Monte is using the 60s or 70s as his beginning point and says that we have captured ground since then, I believe that both positions would be correct.

Cultural Retreatism

AS: What
we are seeing
in this idea
of the privatization
of religion is
the revival of
an aspect
of the
ancient Anabaptist
heresy which
teaches that
religion is essentially
a matter of one's
private individual

conscience. The
Anabaptists were
the consummate
cultural retreatists.
That is one reason
they were
by both Protestants
and Roman Catholics.
We don't want
to get into that
historical background,
but the
point is
that the Anabaptists'
and Roger Williams'
idea that religion
is essentially
a private affair
has become
dominant cultural
motif in modern
Western democracies.

Weyrich also says that conservatives have actually lost the cultural war. I don't agree with that. I agree that we have lost a battle in that war. Conservatives historically are not long-term thinkers, which is ironic because conservatism is all about history and the processes of history. We have lost recent battles in culture, but we have not, I believe, lost the final war. The term "culture war" is interesting. Henry Van Til in The Calvinistic Concept of Culture pointed out that culture is religion externalized. So when people like Bob Bennett use the term "culture war," what they are really saying is a religious war. But conservatives, Colonel, don't really want to speak in terms of a religious war. They want to speak in terms of a cultural war because speaking of a religious war gets too close to the heart of an issue that they do not want to address.

CD: That's right. I think perhaps in a strict sense, much of what Paul says is correct: we have won political battles but lost the cultural wars. I think the larger question is "How can you win a war that you never fought?" It is my observation that we never seriously engaged in the culture wars. Let's put it this way: there was certainly a conflict of "cultures," but conservative Christians by and large did not intelligently enter with any forethought or strategy into the battle.

Conservatives haven't really tried to fight the culture wars in arts, entertainment, media, or education. Conservatives have been handicapped by their own temperament, which is usually to be very independent and to have a kind of "leave me alone" attitude. So they are not naturally driven to deal with many social issues or to become culturally involved. Their area of preference seems to be business, but business really has nothing to do with the formation of culture. To influence the culture, you have to understand the culture; you have to appreciate the culture; and you have to be engaged with it. I question whether conservatives, let alone Christians, have ever done that on a significant scale since the end of the Puritan influence in the eighteenth century.

AS: Interestingly, this cultural disengagement is the very thing that Weyrich is now suggesting. That irony was not lost on you, was it? It is fascinating.

Monte made an interesting point that we addressed more fully at the Chalcedon conference in Atlanta: Conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, in training their children, and in their own lives do not strive for positions of cultural leadership. Colonel, you told me about a leading Christian conservative figure who was interviewed on TV a few weeks ago. His blind spot became apparent when the issue of elites in culture was discussed; he felt that simply by influencing the mass of people, in the long-term things would work out well. Thus, Christians could avoid areas of cultural leadership. I think that is a fundamental error and it is that idea that has put us in this situation in the first place.

Cultural Illiteracy

CD: It has always been conservative strategy (and the Christian Right just inherited strategies from the conservatives) to educate the average voter — if you had enough of middle America with you would eventually prevail.

The leader we are talking about made the point that although we may have lost the media elites, we have the blue-collar workers with us. Of course, he is missing the point, because the media and educational elites influence the blue-collar workers. What are the blue-collar workers doing most of the evening? They and their children are watching television. Their children are going to public schools. If they are with us now, and I think it is apparent that they are not as much with us as they would have been in the 40s or 50s, they are with us less and less daily on fundamental issues. They may not like homosexuals, they may not like pornography, they may not even like abortion. But we are losing them because they are buying into the whole postmodern zeitgeist that is being sold to them by the elite.

MW: It fascinates me that Weyrich says we have lost the culture wars when what he means is that we have lost the political wars. We are not losing the cultural wars; at least, we are making progress. The way conservatives have failed to engage culture on any significant level has retarded any progress that we could have made in the last 20 years. As I travel around the country and speak in various settings, either to businessmen or home-schoolers, or at conventions or churches, the thing that fascinates me is that parents with high school or middle school age children believe that if their children are to be dominionists and bring reconstruction to the country, the kids must be either missionaries or mechanics down at the Ford plant. Don't misunderstand me, I am involved in missions, there is nothing inherently wrong with missions; and it can be a noble pursuit to be a mechanic. But why aren't we talking to our children about being the next Stephen Spielberg? Why aren't we talking to our children about painting? I don't mean explicitly Christian movies or art. I mean producing wonderful works of art in the marketplace and on a popular level, like cinematography, or in music, or engineering, etc. We are not doing that at all. We complain, argue, shoot down, and condemn all psycho-babble, but how many Christian psychiatrists are we producing who have a Biblical understanding of human nature? We are just not putting out top-notch people. It is not because our kids do not have the capacity, the talent, or the intelligence. It is because we are somehow afraid, I believe, for our children to be engaged in that war because we think they will become casualties.

AS: There are other theological presuppositions — many of them Anabaptistic — that underlie that notion. One thing is certain: we will never recapture the culture until we are engaged in the culture. Ironically, I believe that what Chalcedon and those who agree with us have been saying for many years is really the alternative to this problem. First of all, culture is a religious phenomenon. But conservatives, even Christian conservatives, are very afraid of that. I just read a speech by Robert Bork, not known historically for any dedication to Christianity, who said, "I don't believe that there can be any return to the right kind of American culture apart from Biblical law and the Biblical Faith." This is a remarkable statement. Culture is a religious phenomenon. Second, culture has changed when its religion has changed. This is the point that Paul Weyrich is finally sort of admitting and that he acknowledges he did not understand before. We have to change the religion of a culture before we can expect any political change. Third, what we have been saying is that Biblical law and the Christian Faith are the standards of cultural change. But conservatives, Colonel as you have pointed out a number of times, do not have any pattern of cultural change or cultural transformation. They know what they don't like, but they don't know what they would like to have if they could.

CD: There is a visceral aversion in conservatives and, perhaps even more so, in Christians to things cultural. I would like to ask two questions. First, what are we saying really when we talk about culture? Andrew, I believe you are saying it's religion externalized. But when people think of culture, they think of going to the opera, the ballet. That's not what we are talking about. What makes up the components of culture, and why do we have such an aversion for engaging it?

AS: Culture is formed of the institutional areas of society that tend to influence society and, also, the arts. In modern culture, the media is a preeminent and perhaps the preeminent cultural phenomenon because of its vast influence. Education, in all realms, and especially in institutionalized forms, is a cultural phenomenon. The church is a cultural phenomenon. In the modern world, technology is a cultural phenomenon, no question about it. We live in the midst of a remarkable so-called information revolution. All of these are aspects of culture. If Christians cannot capture and influence these particular areas, they will lose, at least in this century, the so-called cultural religious wars because these are the framers of culture.

MW: Fundamentally I agree with you, Andrew. One reason I think conservatives are somewhat afraid of culture and the concept of culture is that they have never been educated into appreciating or enjoying culture. I think there is a basic fear that “culture” is beyond them. It is something that someone else controls. They are not on an equal playing field because all these people are better read and more finely tuned. We can’t fight them on that high cultural level, so we will fight them at the abortion clinic. We will fight them on levels where we feel that we are competent.

A famous Christian leader once said of the statute of David, “This is evidence of Michalengo’s humanism—making man so God-like in his size.” That was hooey. Michaelango made David that big because that was the size rock he was working with. We make fools of ourselves because we don’t study. We see that happening and say, “ I don’t want to be foolish and I don’t know that I could beat these guys at their own game” instead of saying, “How do I educate my children, how do I arm myself, how do I cultivate myself so that I can give expression to who I am and my faith in those various media?”

AS: Many times the pagans are much more qualified, a fact that Van Til and others acknowledge. But the root problem is the ancient error of pietism which says that these cultural areas are less important, less Christian, and thus inherently inferior. It is an ancient Hellenic and Platonic heresy translated into the modern world. There is a denial of the need for the Christianization of all of life.

CD: I agree, Andrew. As I was listening to Monte, I was thinking that we in the evangelical world have been raised to believe, “This is of the world; these things are worldly. We are not of the world. The culture is fleshly. It is worldly.” Now we realize this attitude is reflective of a Gnostic, Platonic, pagan dualism which has been with us for 2,000 years—infecting and now dominating the church and evangelicals, in particular. If we do talk about the Christianization of the world, it is not in the arena of transforming the culture, but in a very narrow sense “soul-winning,” with no afterthought of how these souls might change their world. What we have seen is that you can plausibly have a majority of Christians and the elite would still dominate the culture because we don’t even believe in training ourselves in the avenues necessary to transform the culture.

AS: So the issue is not a moral majority or a moral minority. Even if we did have a majority, if we are pietists, a minority would still control the culture.

CD: I think that is exactly what we had in the 50s. The majority of the country would have identified themselves as Christians. Yet, look at Eisenhower and the Congress back then. While they certainly aren’t as bad as what we have today, these men were in no sense Christians. They were straight-out humanists. They brought evolution into the schools. So we had a Christian public and men that were anything but Christian ran the government and culture. Those in charge simply weren’t as obvious in their anti-Christian agenda as they are today.

If we get down to it, evangelicals have not had “permission” to transform the culture because we were supposed to lose; we are living in a dispensational paradigm, the Devil is going to win. We have to pluck a few souls out before he does. So, we did not have theological permission to win. Even the many activists out there fighting, conservative, Christian or both, lacked what I call (and this is what Paul Weyrich has put his finger on) a model for cultural transformation. We had a model that Weyrich helped engineer, very successfully, for political victories and maybe even political transformation. We transformed the House of Representatives from liberal Democrat to Republican. But it wasn’t enough, because we lacked a model of cultural transformation. And it should be obvious why we’re devoid of such a model: Why would you have a model for cultural transformation If (a) you don’t believe you can transform the culture, or (b) you don’t, believe you are supposed to win, or (c) you believe that the culture is so ungodly that even to touch it is to get sucked into the tar baby.

AS: Again, I must emphasize that people at Chalcedon and people who tend to agree with our position do believe they have an answer, which is Christian culture, Christian civilization with a pattern of the Biblical Faith and Biblical law. Again, it is ironic that we see Robert Bork making such even slight admissions to that point. But conservatives have never been willing to adopt that position. Why? Because it is too explicitly Biblical. It is too Calvinistic and, for some reason from a pragmatic standpoint, they think that won’t win. The problem is not that we lack a pattern. The problem is that Christians, for too long, don’t want to adopt the pattern of the Word of God. But I think with Paul Weyrich’s letter, conservatives are going to be forced to start reconsidering this issue because everything else has failed.

CD: I think that is exactly right.

Cultural Isolationism

AS: Let’s explore further the idea of why Christians have been so culturally inept. Why is it historically that Christians have been essentially disenfranchised? I think there are a number of good reasons here. I will mention one: They have a theological justification for their disenfranchisement in nineteenth-century dispensationalism, the notion that the end of the world is coming and only the truly elect, the very few, the remnant, will be saved, and Christians need to prepare for the rapture. That is one angle of it. But there are various other angles.

MW: In part, an incredible lack of education, or the wrong kind of education. Over all, in American culture, conservative and liberal education has gone to almost an exclusive emphasis on technological studies so that in undergraduate studies, you get a degree in math, or computer science, or whatever. Up until twenty years ago, you got a liberal arts degree and you were trained in the history of who we are as a people, the arts and literature and philosophy that were the underpinnings of Western Civilization.

AS: In every aspect of culture.

MW: Exactly, so you were familiar with culture in its diverse elements. The hopes, of course, were that this type of education would cultivate the individual. Today, as conservative Christians, we send our kids to Bible colleges to get an education that tells them there is no need to be involved in culture. Culture is horrible and wicked. Or perhaps we give them an education that is a-cultural: We send them to state schools where they get a technical education. But we are totally ignoring that part of the soul that makes a life well-lived.

CD: Let’s look at where the evangelical movement came from. Obviously the Christian Right sprang out of the evangelical movement. The evangelical movement sprang up in 40s and 50s from the fundamentalist movement. The three of us essentially grew up in the fundamentalist movement, or we were trained by parents who grew up in it. The fundamentalist movement was an assiduously isolated subculture, totally alienated from the culture and the elite. The religious or political heroes of this subculture ranged from Billy James Hargis (whom I worked for), to George Wallace (for some in the South), or Jerry Falwell to Ronald Reagan, or a man whom I admire greatly, Pat Buchanan. What they all have in common is that they all railed at the elite: the cultural elite is bad and we are going to change it. That’s fine and I would support them in that and agree with them. But it is obviously not enough. It is not enough just to rail against the elite and replace them, as we saw with Ronald Reagan or Newt Gingrich. Once you have replaced the top fringe of political leaders or bureaucrats, you have to have a comprehensive, multi-layered mechanism to transform the culture. It is not enough to kick them out, but the key is what you replace them with. Unfortunately, you don’t design that in ninety days. Once someone wins in November, you can’t replace a culture in ninety days. That takes one or two or three generations of training young people and getting them educated as Monte was just talking about. That is where we have missed the boat.

AS: Several years ago, the three of us were talking with a leading Christian conservative whom we all respect. We asked him what his objective was and he said to bring down the establishment. That really jarred me and I disagreed with it totally. For too long conservatives have been inherently anti-establishment. As I wrote an article in the Chalcedon Report not long ago. Christians must be inherently establishmentarian. Not with the union of church and state, but the establishment of a particular religion. That requires capturing the cultural centers of influence. Colonel, as you have indicated, this is not part of the psyche of conservatism.

There is another problem that is endemic to the Right. It leads to this cultural disenfranchisement: conservatives’ horrid vulnerability to conspiracy thinking—whether it is the so-called Jewish bankers, or the black helicopters. This mindset leads people to think that these areas of influence are inherently evil and that they are under the control of a very vast, secret conspiracy and that they are not the proper objects of godly dominion. I think that is a severe problem on the Right.

Interestingly enough, I read an article by Gertrude Himmelfarb, a leading conservative author. She pointed out the fundamental incongruity between the character of conservatism and the notion of revolution. She basically said that we conservatives don’t know what to do when we are in power because we are not wired to understand power. We are anti-establishment. Those of us who agree with Chalcedon and are identified broadly with the message of Christian reconstruction must totally resist that idea. We must be inherently pro-establishment. It is just that we want to replace the present evil establishment with a godly establishment. Establishment is an inescapable concept, to use Rush’s language.

Cultural Transformation

CD: Andrew, the question then is: how do you do that? What is the answer in terms of finding a model for cultural transformation?

AS: I think it is pretty clear. The only answer is in the Bible. The Bible gives us the pattern for applying the Faith in all of life. This does not mean that every specific cultural answer is found in the Bible—and none of us at Chalcedon holds that. But the Bible is the foundation on which we build particular cultural transformation, whether it is in the arts, education, technology, the sciences, the media, the church, the family, or anywhere else. One of the fundamental errors is to think that cultural transformation occurs principally by political means. That is essentially one of the great illusions of the political Left and that many people on the Right have picked up. They think that If we can just elect somebody to the presidency, then we can have in short time a godly Christian culture. To his credit, Paul Weyrich recognizes that is a fallacious idea.

We need to start in the family by training godly children and by having godly families. But not just godly families in abstraction, but godly children designed to be cultural warriors. I am tending to use that expression more and more. I notice, Colonel, it is one that you have used in a number of the men’s seminars that you and Monte have had—the idea of men as warriors. We need to train children up as warriors in the Faith, so that we can get them on the right track. Education essentially begins in the first 20 to 25 years of your life. And we need to recognize that the church itself must be an agent of cultural transformation. Monte, can you comment on the church’s role in this?

The Church and Cultural Transformation

MW: It fascinates and also grieves me when I look at what we call good, solid, evangelical churches. There is absolutely no discussion, and therefore no demonstration, of any understanding of the nature of God when it comes to beauty and goodness in the realm of culture. There is no desire, much less programs, for what can we do for budding young artists, or what can we do to help motivate parents and their children towards more cultural involvement.

AS: They think it would be better if they were missionaries, for example.

MW: We have to change that attitude and replace it, not only by cultivating the person, but showing how the person can cultivate society around him. The churches should be taking a leading role. At the churches I pastored, we started artist support groups. In the schools we started, we were constantly bringing in different kinds of people who were having an impact because of their excellent skill—whether it was in law, or art, or politics. We wanted to show the children role models who were in the world and actually accomplishing something. During the Renaissance, it was the church that was supporting the artist; because of that commitment, we have some great art that enriches our lives today. I am using art as just one form of culture. I hope no one hears me saying that’s the only field. But it would be very easy for the church to start inspiring and encouraging people in this particular arena.

AS: Colonel, we have talked about the family as an agent of cultural change, and the church as an agent of cultural change. Now let’s talk about the state. Weyrich acknowledges that conservatives in general have been failures when it comes to long-term cultural change as a result of politics, not the short term—he recognizes that we have gotten political victories, but those political victories have not been translated into cultural or social victories. What have our problems been there, and what are we to do about them?

The State and Cultural Transformation

CD: As we talk about goals and training warriors for long-term cultural change, I think a key concept is service. As you are well aware, I wrote about this in The Samaritan Strategy—a New Agenda for Christian Activism. In our communities, people follow those who serve them. Therefore, the best way to become a leader is to first become a servant—whether that involves civic clubs, volunteering within different city or county commissions, or ministry to the urban poor, etc. There are literally hundreds of opportunities for service. They are there for the taking. Most of them have been filled by the humanist state because churches have not been interested in service. A hundred years ago the church was doing all of that sort of work. Part of our problem today is that Christians and conservatives don’t like things that take a long time. We don’t like the idea of waiting a generation or two while we train our children for service, because we may not see the fruit from that. We want to have some results right now. It is much easier to say there is an election in three months and we are going to win that, rather than saying If I spend the next ten years training my kids, or serving my community—or both—I may see some positive results.

As far as the political world goes, I think the question to all of our political activist friends is what can we do in the meantime? Do we just drop out, as Weyrich suggests, or do we continue to struggle on? I believe we should continue the struggle—as long as we don’t have the illusion that we are going to change the culture. We can still do a lot by at least blocking the advance of the opposition in the political world. To do that, we have to recognize that some things have shifted. Paul Weyrich and other conservatives are reeling from the fact that things have shifted and they hadn’t quite realized it.

The first thing that we need to realize is that the Christian Right is not a majority. We may have a hard core of twenty percent in the country. That is not a majority, but it certainly is a huge block. So for us to win in elections, as Ronald Reagan demonstrated, we have to be able to reach out and form an alliance. For instance, with Southern populists or conservative Democrats, obviously Roman Catholics, and other people who may agree with us on what I would call generic traditional values issues. If we can reach out to them, then we can form, in many cases, a winning alliance. But it means that we most likely will not get our core issues adopted. For example, we won’t get abortion outlawed, but can we stop homosexual marriages? Can we outlaw some pornography? Can we get tougher on crime to save our families? Yes!

AS: Christians are going to have to learn to accept that in the political sphere, change occurs incrementally. Those people who operate in the political sphere and who want immediate solutions must realize that there are no immediate solutions in the political sphere. We have to get things hack one chunk at the time, and not all at once.

CD: Right. We became a little spoiled by thinking we won control of the Republican Party. We thought, “Now we control this big party so. we can get our way.” That has proved to be false. Realizing that we are a smaller piece of the pie than we imagined—that reality check—will help us adopt a more realistic strategy.

If you look at the conservative movement, you will see a tremendous shift. First let’s start with the Republican Party. I wrote about what happened in the GOP in my monograph (available through Chalcedon) The Late Great GOP and the Coming Realignment. I discussed the realignment between centrist Republicans and centrist Democrats, which is really the elite of both parties. The elite of both parties are basically for free enterprise; they are conservative economically and they are liberal socially. They are the business elite, the power elite. With the fall of communism, there are no longer issues about socialism and communism or capitalism. Everyone is basically agreeing on capitalism; everyone is agreeing that we should have a more efficient way of running the civil government. Perhaps I shouldn’t say everybody, but in the main, the people who are funding both the Republicans and the Democrats agree on these premises. They are also liberal on social issues. So, these people are coming together in what I call a Remocrat, a Republican-Democrat centrist paradigm.

So the questions that are left on the table have more to do with sexual issues. By this I mean the results of sex, for instance, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, and adultery. Moral issues are perhaps the last thing that truly divides the nation.

The conservative movement stood on four legs. One was a broadly based anti-communist coalition which included everyone from the neo-conservatives to conservative Democrats to paleoconservatives. Second there was the Christian Right, and, third, the economic conservatives, who, as I just explained, are moving to a more centrist position. Finally there were the libertarians. The economic conservatives discovered they can’t stand being with the Christian Right, and that they have more in common with centrist business-types in the Democratic Party. The anti-communist coalition disbanded when communism fell. The old conservative coalition effectively has only two legs left: the Christian Right and the Libertarians—who can’t stand each other because we are totally divided on sexual issues. So the Christian Right has been isolated. We either have to find ways to reach out to a more populist base, for example to people who are attracted to Pat Buchanan’s nationalistic issues, or people who will unite with us on crime or very basic pro-family issues. That is our only hope to win some political victories. I think that is very possible. But again, this will not transform culture. What it will do, perhaps, is serve as a defensive action to keep the enemy off our back for another generation so that we can train people who will eventually transform the culture.

AS: I am glad Colonel concluded by saying, in essence, that there are not fundamental political solutions. That, as we have indicated, has been the great error of the Christian Right in the last twenty years or so. What Christians must do to produce cultural change is to train up an entire generation of young people who are culturally literate and culturally dominant—culturally dominionists. That is going to have to occur in the family and, as Monte has pointed out, it must occur in the church. The church must recognize its cultural responsibilities. That goes beyond the four walls of the church, though it begins within the four walls of the church. There won’t be any cultural change until those things happen.

  • P. Andrew Sandlin

P. Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, theologian, and author.  He is the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California.  He was formerly president of the National Reform Association and executive vice president of the Chalcedon Foundation.  He is a minister in the Fellowship of Mere Christianity.. He was formerly a pastor at Church of the Word in Painesville, Ohio (1984-1995) and Cornerstone Bible Church in Scotts Valley, California (2004-2014).

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  • Monte E. Wilson, III
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