Hating the Culture Is Not a Strategy
Revulsion against the elites does not a Christian church build.
A little while ago I was doing research for an article about mass shootings, specifically looking for information about the most recent perpetrators. Lamentably, such information is extremely easy to find, which does little to relieve fears about media valorization and “copycat” murders. But I did find (or more accurately, I was reminded) one point that was worth further reflection. A large majority of the most recent shooters in American history were demonstrably and self-evidently angry at society. Whether by their Internet history, their homemade manifestos, or their comments to friends or social media followers, these murderers demonstrated that the victims of their wrath, while technically unknown to them, were not random. It was society they killed, because it was society they fumed at.
Why did they fume? Some were bullied. Some were abandoned. Some felt deprived of the attention and respect of others. But these are details, not reasons. As interesting as it is for media outlets to contemplate what it is about society that creates such people, no description of their lives amounts to a reason. The reason they hated society is that they believed it was wrong and had wronged them.
It occurs to me that there’s a way of talking about the Christian’s relationship to the world that risks flattening an important distinction. Hating society is not itself evidence of having been born again, because there are plenty of people who hate “the world” (and their conception of the world may or may not come close to the biblical definition) but are not Christian. This is important to say because there is currently a stream in some quarters, particularly in evangelicalism, that proceeds as if cultivating a hot animosity toward society at large is an integral part of training faithful Christians.