Culture Friday - Student questions | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Culture Friday - Student questions


WORLD Radio - Culture Friday - Student questions

Questions about the pro-life stance, engaging with secular companies, the SBC scandal, and surviving the swamp

In this June 25, 2018 file photo, pro-life and anti-abortion advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press Photo

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, May 27th, 2022. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday.

And it’s that time of year again, our annual World Journalism Institute college course hosted by our friends at Dordt University. We’re still in week one here in Sioux Center, Iowa, up in the northwest corner of the state and we have been busy.

BROWN: Our students are learning feature story structure, collecting color and detail, getting into the field, they’re learning about radio and television, recording voice tracks and shooting stand-ups and learning Christian worldview.

EICHER: And today, they’re asking the questions, speaking of Christian worldview.

So let’s bring in John Stonestreet. He’s the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast and he joins us now. Good morning, John.


EICHER: Alright, let’s turn it over to the students.

ZOE SCHIMKE, STUDENT: Zoe Schimke of Colorado State University Pueblo here. Since the Supreme Court decision draft on Roe was leaked. Many prominent religious writers and commentators like Russell Moore, David French, and others have written about how the religious community bears some blame for secular cultures hostility towards the pro life stance. Do you think this is correct? And how should ordinary Christians respond to these kinds of claims? How do you feel about prominent religious figures that encourage us to take a nuanced or third way approach on issues like abortion?

STONESTREET: Hi, Zoe, such a great question. I don't think there's just kind of religious leaders encouraging us to take a third way. But we've probably got a third way, a fourth way, a fifth way, a sixth way and all kinds of other ways. And it's so bizarre at some level, because some of them and I don't know that I would include either of the two names you mentioned in this category. But there certainly are those that are convinced that we should snatch defeat out of the hands of victory here. And of course, Dobbs is not victory. Dobbs is just a great step in the right direction that taking down a row makes the world a better place and makes American culture a better place. Now, of course, the question you asked was, do we bear some blame for the hostility that secular cultures have towards the pro life stance? I mean, I'm sure the answer to that is yes. You know, at the same time, I'm not saying that we've never done anything to deserve some sort of hostility or to expect hostility. Of course, we have at the same time to give all sides of this, when you're talking about abortion, you're talking about core beliefs on both the right and the left. Abortion is a sacred ceremony of adherence of the sexual revolution. They're not going to give up on that lightly. Any more than we would give up on the ability to gather and assemble or whatever else. Why? Because it's essential to our way of thinking about life in the world. It's essential. And so that's why the temperatures are so high on this. On the other hand, we think that preborn babies are made in the image of God, and we think that killing them is wrong. So that's why the temperatures are high on our side. In other words, we're dealing with a core issue, a fundamental issue of belief on both sides of the coin. It's not a live and let live sort of situation here. I believe the stakes are way, way, way, way too high. That doesn't mean we should be jerks. It doesn't mean it gets us off the hook from being anything less than Christlike. It doesn't mean that we should be rude to people, mean to people, or anything like that. I'm just saying that that's probably not the right starting point to determine whether or not we're on the right side of history.

MICHAELA ESTRUTH, STUDENT: I'm Michaela Estruth from Hillsdale College. I was wondering, what do you think is the role of the Christian in engaging with secular companies who support organizations which clearly oppose God's word? How can we be in the world and not of it? For example, in relation to Disney's increased secular stance? Should Christians stop their support of such organizations and others like it? Or would this boycott make no difference?

STONESTREET: Thanks, Mikayla, great question. This is really hard. Because we are in a culture where it is very difficult to be completely pure. Part of this, by the way, comes out of theological reflections of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer’s theology, by the way, was all over the place. But the point is that the purity test is the wrong test for Bonhoeffer. The right test is actually getting in there and trying to work out the ramifications. And I think we're seeing some of this in this space that you're asking about. And I've had these conversations with people who have been struggling through some of these decisions, and they're the right conversations to have. We absolutely need to know as much as possible about the complicity that we have with these corporations. Once you step out of them, though, you lose your voice. Over the last couple years, I've had a conversation with a couple of folks who are just struggling with being on the board of a Christian educational institution, because they saw it going away from orthodoxy. And the challenge was, if they stay on, it's like they're complicit in what the school is doing. If they step off, there's no more voices that he was one of the individuals. Essentially was literally the last one that was willing to do it. So that's a hard place to be in. And I think when we fully separate from the culture, it's hard to have a voice in it. At the same time, we shouldn't be complicit. I think we're gonna have to take this on a case by case basis, and not just across the board say boycotts are good or boycotts are bad.

AIDEN TRIMBLE, STUDENT: I'm Aiden Trimble. I go to Spurgeon College in Kansas City, Missouri. And here's my question, with the investigation about officials in the Southern Baptist Convention intentionally covering up sexual assault breaking this week. How should Christians respond as one of the biggest evangelical institutions in the country takes a big hit in the public eye? And Can Christians use this tragedy as an opportunity to share the gospel with people who are disillusioned with Christianity as a whole?

STONESTREET: Yeah, Aiden, it's such a brutal situation, isn't it? It's hard. It's hard for a couple of reasons. One is just the degree of victimization here that the report that you're mentioning, revealed, it's just hard to read and to think that it's, you know, from, you know, part of our family that's guilty of that sort of work. That's just so hard to take in. And it's not an isolated incident. You know, it's one thing when, you know, something really, really bad is an isolated incident. It's another thing when you sense that it's a trend and it's like, every few months, we're hearing some sort of expo's a, on some bad behavior, particularly sexually. Our first reaction, my first reaction is sadness. And it should be anger, but I think there needs to be something that was widely critiqued in the wake of another scandal not too long ago, there was this critique of this idea about, you know, there but for the grace of God go I and I don't say that, because I don't know there was various reasons people gave none of them really made a lot of sense to me. Because it's true. It's absolutely true. And the moment you stop thinking that it's true, the moment that you're vulnerable, if you think that somehow the line of good and evil runs between me and them, between my denomination and their denomination, or my enlightened Christian blog, and they're unenlightened, old school, traditional, pastoral pulpit, or wherever we draw the line. If we draw anywhere, except as Solzhenitsyn taught us, right down the middle of the human heart, we're fools. And I think we're in a time where God is cleaning up his church, it's brutal, it's painful, it hurts a lot of people. And it seems like that's the kind of time we're in. So I think that the first response should be sadness, introspection, and confession and repentance, whenever and however, we need to do it. And then, of course, there needs to be care for victims. And, of course, that's one of the best ways that Christianity has advanced in the history of the world as at times when bad things have created victims, you know, the church was there to do victim care. When it's our bad behavior that creates the victims, we lose the credibility to do victim care. And that's a huge loss for the mission of the church.

ANNA ALLEN, STUDENT: I'm Anna Allen, a recent graduate from Patrick Henry College. What advice would you give to a young Christian professional working in Washington DC on how to survive the swamp as they say? Christians are called to be light in dark places. But what are some practical ways we can guard against the darkness seeping into our own lives?

STONESTREET: Anna, the most practical way you can guard against the darkness seeping into your own lives is to not try to do this alone, not allow yourself to be isolated. You need to engage with the church when you're in that environment or that kind of environment. That's what happens when students go off to university and they don't have that sort of surrounding accountability and community and so on. Look, every book of the Bible was written to a community, not a person, even the ones like First and Second Timothy, written to a person, were also meant to be read to the whole community. I know we make fun of a particular political voice who said it takes a village to raise a child, but it does take a church to raise a Christian and there's not any – I mean, look, I could talk about, you know, get your worldview straight. Make sure you know why you believe what you believe, be informed, know where the sources are, have a mentor. All that stuff is really important. The most important thing is to be a part of a church, be connected. And I don't mean to attend church. I mean, be a part of our church. Clearly what we learned from COVID is that a much greater threat than governors saying that the church was not essential. It was everyday Christians thinking that the church was not essential, even how we attend church. And I have seen since the pandemic, the reasons we leave a church prove to us that the church is non essential. We've got to rethink our loyalty and commitment to the church.

BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...