The end of the month is an ideal time to look at the stories that have captured attention since the beginning of September. While it can be easy to let the news of the day consume us, neither should one ignore the stories of the day. Knowing what is happening offers an opportunity to analyze what is taking place, see culture change, and develop a response to it. I endeavor to highlight four stories from the last month that you may have missed and very quickly look at their implications as Christians.
First, speaking from the continent of Africa this month amidst his travels, Pope Francis acknowledged possible schisms in the Catholic Church. Any of those following Pope Francis’ papacy would know that those schisms aren’t merely possible, but already exist. Here though, Pope Francis is officially acknowledging that an official split may take place between conservative who disagree with the liberal positions of the most recent pope. The schism itself is not the story though; instead this is contrary to what the official position of the church has been as it portrays itself as the first and only church, united underneath one authority. Yet, the division highlights what happens when people are not united under Christ, but instead unite underneath a person. People are influenced much by their sinful nature and if truth is not the force the roots that person, they will waver. The Catholic Church provides an analytical example of this; while the Word has never changed, the Catholic church has changed to the point that even its own authorities contradict and conflict with one another.
The Catholic Church is not the only organization professing to be Christian that has raised theological concerns. Union Theological Seminary put out a tweet this past month that their chapel time included a time of confession . . . to plants. There is a great need to be marveled by creation, not because of what creation is, but because of who God is. The reality is, the person who does not worship God, will worship creation. Such a point is notable in the recent climate strike that took place in which the creation is elevated to a position above man to the point that there is a movement to reject having children for the sake of the environment. While certainly the created world is a gift of God to be stewarded, such behavior indicates a lack of trust in God’s ability to sustain that provision and denies the God-given mandate of procreation.
Finally, last month, stories were shared of a new school curriculum being propagated by the State of California (you can read more thoughts about that here). Concerning within the curriculum was the use (and redefinition) of language. Merriam-Webster has now jumped aboard by announcing the addition of the non-binary pronoun ‘they.’ Advocacy began months ago for the use of the word ‘they’ as a numberless and genderless pronoun. Instead of relying on the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’ advocates suggest a use of ‘they’ in their place is more appropriate. Merriam-Webster’s history has established it as an authority in the realm of language; there is no doubt here that the attempt to control the language is an attempt to control the culture. This is where Christians must exercise a level of discernment. For many, it is easy to suggest this is a meaningless debate to not be fought, but more importantly, it is part of a concerted effort to tear apart biblical gender roles piece by piece.
Why highlight three unrelated stories in a review of the month’s news? The answer is simple: they show how quickly things can change if we are unaware and how much biblical literacy is being compromised in a secular world. A number of other stories took place in the past month that could be used to stipulate this proposition as well. Aside from not being enough time and space to analyze them, these three alone should serve to raise the level of concern for Christians and cause us to respond with Biblical truth.
For further information on the topics above, click the following titles to read more.
- New York Times: “In Africa, Pope Francis Comes Face to Face With the Future of the Church”
- New York Times: “I Pray There Are No Schisms”
- The Wall Street Journal: Pope Says He Doesn’t Fear Possible Schisms with U.S. Conservatives.”
- The Guardian: “Merriam-Webster dictionary adds ‘they’ as nonbinary pronoun
- CNN: “Merriam-Webster adds the nonbinary pronoun ‘they’ to its dictionary
- The Washington Post: Merriam-Webster adds non-binary pronoun ‘they’ to the dictionary
- Newsweek: “#nofuturechildren: Hundreds of Young People Are Pledging not to Have Children for the Environment”
- New York Times: Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike