"Lies That Go Unchallenged: In Media and Government" by Charles Colson and James Stuart Bell

Gene Edward Veith
Thursday, May 3rd 2007
May/Jun 2006

Lies That Go Unchallenged, by its own description, is about the culture war between the cultural implications of Christianity and the cultural implications of secularism. Christians trying to wage a culture war often confuse politics for culture and moralism for the gospel. True, Christians believe in morality (while understanding that fallen human beings cannot keep the Law and so need the gospel of Christ). And, true, Christians, in their vocation as citizens, can indeed be politically active (while not confusing the kingdom of God with earthly kingdoms).

Often Christians think they are fighting a cultural war when they are really fighting a political war. Electing officials and passing laws are much easier, but do hardly any good.

To change the culture requires cultural means-creating works of art, persuading people to change their ideas, forming communities in church and family that model what a culture should be. Ironically, for all of the rhetoric, most Christians today are far more interested in imitating the culture-in their worship styles, music, and lifestyles-rather than waging any kind of war against it. But Christians who can keep these distinctions in mind can find insights in this book, a collection of scripts from Breakpoint, the popular four-minute radio commentaries from Charles Colson and his able staff.

The chapters consist of around 16 two-page Breakpoint commentaries each, sorted according to five "lies" that are commonplace in the media and government:
1.Judges should use their power to interpret laws.2.Each person has the right to make decisions about life, death, and relationships without outside interference.3.Religion should remain in the church and the private lives of individuals.4.Government should play a greater role in granting unrestricted freedoms.5.Our personal problems stem from others who are exploiting us for their own ends.

The book is in the form of a study guide with "Truths to Consider" abstracted from each commentary and study questions geared for "Personal Transformation," "Renewing the Church," and "Influencing the Culture."

When a Breakpoint comes on the radio, it is nearly always worth listening to. Typically it begins with some outrage, anecdote, or interesting factoid from the news. An analysis follows that tends to be more sophisticated than the typical fulminations from the Christian right.

Breakpoint breaks news, but by the time the scripts are published into a book, the newsy-ness has worn off. What is up-to-date quickly goes out-of-date. Some of the Breakpoints collected here go back a few years-we read about Elian Gonzalez, misdeeds of the Clinton administration, controversy over the 2000 election, and judicial decisions from the 1990s-and later developments have put some of these issues in a different light. This collection is edited in such a way as to try to extract the permanent themes from these fleeting events, which is certainly worth doing.

Colson's approach draws on Kuyperian "worldview" analysis, Roman Catholic ethicists, and conservative political thinkers. That is not always a stable mixture, but it is always worth hearing.

Thursday, May 3rd 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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