More than half a century ago, Christian philosopher and author Francis Shaeffer released a groundbreaking book entitled How Shall We Then Live? By tracing through history, philosophy, theology, and the arts Dr. Shaeffer outlined the rise and the ultimate demise of Western civilization. Much of what he predicted has already come to pass, and some things that have come to pass he could never have predicted. What is at stake in our day is as critical as what was at stake in the first centuries of Christian thought. In the earliest years and through the Reformation, Christian writers and thinkers were concerned primarily with one subject: Who is Jesus? What does it mean to be ‘virgin born’? What does it mean to be “one with God”? What is the Trinity? How is Jesus both God and man?
Today, the subject has turned from that of seeking out the nature of Christ to something else of great importance: What is man? How is humankind to be defined? Are we created, or accidental? Does life begin at conception, before conception, or after birth? What happens when a person dies? What defines Biblical personhood? Can we arbitrarily decide we were “assigned” the wrong sex at birth, and take steps rightfully to correct the “mistake?” What constitutes marriage? Can two same-sex people become married in a Biblical sense?
All of these questions demand a thoughtful, articulate, Biblical, and definitive response. We are long past the day when we can say, “Go ask the preacher” or “because I said so”. We must give loving, yet correct answers to instruct our children how to live in Western civilization as it is declining around us. And we must define from Scripture what these things mean, whether or not the Supreme Court or any other entity agree with our definitions.
To paraphrase Dr. Shaeffer, “how shall we now live?” Living lovingly yet as those who stand for truth in our culture has never been harder. It is certainly more difficult than it was in 1950, 60, or 70. But we must stand unapologetically upon the Word of God which never changes (“My Word will not pass away”) and yet address a confused and broken world with truth spoken in love. How shall we then live?
Just like Jesus.