Christianity is the sort of thing that should, and necessarily will, change culture. In our own day, however, many Christians are far more content to let culture change Christianity. Reform without unity is chaos, and unity requires common goals. Here is a bit from Chesterton that will help explain this:
“Progress is a metaphor from merely walking along a road–very likely the wrong road. But reform is a metaphor for reasonable and determined men: it means that we see a certain thing out of shape and we mean to put it into shape. And we know what shape. […] Progress should mean that we are always walking towards the New Jerusalem. It does mean that the New Jerusalem is always walking away from us. We are not altering the real to suit the ideal. We are altering the ideal: it is easier.”
In order for true reform to happen, we cannot swap out our ideals. I have heard it leveled time and time again that the Postmillennialist is a mere “Utopian.” This charge falls short on numerous levels, and demonstrates many false assumptions about the postmillennial view. Aside from getting into all that, this particular line from Chesterton raised the question in my mind: is it reasonable for a Christian to reject a view solely on how impossible it now seems? Chesterton might say, were he himself speaking in this context, that reform simply becomes much easier if we change the ideal, because it is much easier on us that way. No one said reform was easy.
Is part of the reason Christianity has “lost” so many cultural and theological battles because reformers no longer have any unified ideal? Perhaps.
Eschatology is more important than most people like to think.
One single reformer, saying “Here I stand,” is more important than most people think too. We need sharp ideals; we need biblical ideals.
- Orthodoxy, chapter VII.↵