Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The New Counterculture #1

I've referenced and quoted a book called Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture (Colson, Charles), and I'm going to do so again.  The book is a series of short 2-4 page challenges to certain lies in popular culture.  Today I took a look at one of these entitled, "The New Counterculture."

The section notes that the anti-war protest of the sixties was a counterculture movement that was marked with socialist values, sexual freedom, and a tearing down of marriage and the nuclear family.  This movement however was so successful that now the ideals of that counterculture are no longer counterculture.  The definition of what is counterculture has thus changed.

The charge in this article is that the anti-war protesters of today are not "counterculture."  "Counterculture" is based upon the idea that everything one has been told is a lie.  The anti-war protesters of today do not maintain this view which would entail everything, not just war, so everything in life has been a lie, meaning war, race, sexuality, and art.  According to Paul Buhle of Brown Univeristy, as quoted by Colson in the article, "The only thing that unites people today is fear of the consequences of war."

So who is "counterculture" now?

Professor Robert Webber calls the "younger evangelicals" the new counterculture group (again quoted by Colson).  What is the motivation for these young activists?  It's not fear.  It's hope.  Hope in Jesus Christ.  They see themselves to be "a redemptive, transformative place in the world."  Webber expects the war on terrorism to call this new young group to make a proper distinction between the church and the nation, and their place in both of these.

In Romans 13, it is clearly stated that authority has been established by God to protect, care, and punish evil.  All of which are the duties God has given to the governments in the world, who are God's servants in the world.  Martin Luther said that the 1st use, or function, of the Law of God, is that of a curb.  Curbs block and restrict.  The function of the Law as a curb is to restrict evil and reward good.  The laws of the land, by whichever government in the world, are thus an example of the crubing function of the Law. Of course, not every nation is perfect, and if rulers do not live up to their calling God will bring them low and build up replacements. 

The "new evangelicals" recognize this role of the government.  They see that the government's role is to offer aid towards the physical side of its people's lives.  The role of the Church, however, is to proclaim Jesus to the people, tending more towards the spiritual needs of the people (although the church is also called to care for people physically).  Christians belong to both of these kingdoms and have roles in both of them.  "The Church, then, is a counterculture that has a different vision of the world than that of people who are not in the Church," writes Webber.  Younger evangelicals can bring about change in the world, not through political power and protests, as the counterculture of the sixties did, but through following the way of their leader Jesus, through humble servanthood.


  1. Hmm, I am having trouble answering this question. I am not sure I understand what is meant by, "counterculture." If, "counterculture" is a group of individuals who have united because they believe they have been lied to about everything, then Christians are most definitely NOT members of a, "counterculture". In fact, they would be a society founded on Truth.

  2. I copied this from an online dictionary - "A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture." So on the definition that counterculture groups believe everything they've been told is a lie - I think it'd go more along the lines of "the established culture" is a lie, and maybe for people who are 18-22 right now, who are Christians, I'm pretty sure the established culture they grew up in outside of their home, and for some of them, probably even inside the home through TV and maybe divorced homes and stuff, the established culture probably was a lie in comparison to the Truth of scripture.

    I'm thinking or Romans 12 on this one, when Paul talks about the deception of the patterns of the world and how Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Then, hopefully, what Christians have to offer and live out is counterculture. But the article I was referencing was saying that the "young evangelicals" who are activists aren't striving to change the government but simply help the poor and downtrodden and spread the truth in the process, that they have a renewed sense of what it means to be in the world but not of the world.

    Maybe none of the article makes sense since it's hard to define "counterculture" and what the prevailing culture.