The Holiness Option

by James M. Kushiner

Many Christians are concerned about society and culture, about the fate of Western civilization, and rightly so. What to do about it?

Writers, of course, write more books and articles. They offer diagnoses, identify causes, prescribe treatments for symptoms, give prognoses, and even suggest cures. Samuel Gregg offers an expansive diagnosis in Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization. A friend and colleague, Timothy S. Goeglein, has proposed remedies (with Craig Osten) in American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. The widespread assumption is that the patient is very ill; some think terminally ill, but others not.

Thomas Buchanan writes in this issue's editorial, "To solve the problem of the decline of our culture, we must begin by solving our own decline, our time spent sleeping with the enemy." Taking a cue from this, we might apply self-reflection to the whole Church and its congregations. After all, Christians are themselves supposed to be "a holy nation, a people for [God's] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." How does the Christian nation, the Church, the congregation,
measure up?

Brian Stanley, professor of world Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, writes in Christianity in the Twentieth Century that conservative American churches helped Christianity regain some of its lost prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, but "did so at a price of substantial -accommodation to the individualism and self-preoccupation that characterized popular American culture in this period. Christianity made its peace with popular culture." This didn't bode well for being a holy nation and Christian witness to the glory of God.

The proper question, then, to which the Church and her leaders must respond, is not "How can we make America (or any other Western nation) Christian again?" but "How can we make our churches Christian again?" What does it mean to be a holy nation?

No doubt, these issues and questions will dominate much of our discussion (and debate?) at Touchstone's fourth "More Christianity" conference: "Fight or Flight? The Benedict & Other Options for Facing the World, the Flesh & the Devil," at Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois, from Thursday, October 10, to Saturday, October 12, 2019.

I hope many readers will be able to join Touchstone editors Allan Carlson, Rod Dreher, Anthony Esolen, S. M. Hutchens, and Russell Moore, along with Erin Doom, Douglas Farrow, Leah Libresco Sargeant, Patrick McCaskey, John Yocum, and John Stonestreet, for what we hope and pray will be a very significant conference. Details can be found at www.touchstonemag.com. Register today. Tickets are going fast.

James M. Kushiner is the Executive Editor of Touchstone.

more on culture from the online archives

34.1—January/February 2021

Jeremiah Revisited

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher by Hans Boersma

20.8—October 2007

Aliens in Zion

on Why I Can’t Be Just Another Earthman by Louis Markos

19.4—May 2006

Liberalism as Religion

The Culture War Is Between Religious Believers on Both Sides by Howard P. Kainz

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more from the online archives

24.5—Sept/Oct 2011

Pupils Delighted

on Wondering or Wandering Through College Education by Anthony Esolen

34.1—January/February 2021

Jeremiah Revisited

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher by Hans Boersma

29.4—July/August 2016

The Very Idea

on Anselm's God & the Virtue of Existing  by Tara L. Jernigan