The Trumpet Sounds: ‘It’s time to believe’


Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20

The greatest question of our time is not Democrat versus Republican, communism versus individualism, not the East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God. That question will unfortunately be answered in the times we live in. For centuries the church has been the moral compass and center of Western civilization. Western culture, government, law, and society were based on many Christian principles. Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, respect for the good, and strong morals all came from Christian convictions and the influence of the Church in our civilization.

However, we live in times where all of these things and many more are under a tremendous attack. The very notion of right and wrong is now mocked by many in our American society. Taking a page out of Alice in Wonderland, many people simply declare wrong to be right, and right to be wrong. D. Elton Trueblood once described America as a “cut flower civilization.” He believed that our culture is cut off from its Christian roots like a flower cut at the stem. Though the flower will hold its beauty for a time, it is destined to wither and die. When he spoke those words almost three decades ago, the flower could still be seen with some color and signs of life. But the blossom has long since lost its vitality, and it is time for the fallen petals to be acknowledged. In the words of Isaiah, we live in a generation that has called good evil, and evil good.

We must understand that the church is facing a tragic new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though many buildings and monuments of Christian influence exist, they are now exceptions rather than the norm. For the most part, the church has been replaced by the influence of human secularism. The daily news brings a constant report which confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good. The church is tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only as long as it does not attempt to exercise any influence on the state of American affairs. If the church speaks boldly about an issue in public debate, it is mocked as barbarian and out of date.

So how does the church deal with this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as a guardian of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of this past decade. Little progress toward the re-establishment of a moral center of gravity can be detected. Instead, the culture has moved swiftly toward a more complete abandonment of all moral conviction. The church is now a moral minority, and it must stand in spite of what the times demands. The church must never follow the secular influence toward moral collapse or politically correct positions on the issues of our times. We must call what is good as good, and what is evil as evil.

Whatever the issue, the church must speak as saved sinners that in all times stand under the divine authority of God. The church must stand in faith and absolute truth in spite of being surrounded by a culture of relativism and self-identification. God has called the church to be a community of moral character. However, the character produced by a people who place their faith in the authority of the God of the universe will inevitably be at odds with a culture of unbelief. Eternity will record whether or not the American church is willing to submit only to the authority of God; or whether the church will forfeit its calling in order to serve lesser gods. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20

In spite of an ever changing culture the church must have faith, stand in truth, and love others even as a moral minority. As a result, the church will continue to be a life-giving oasis in the midst of a moral desert. This Sunday at South Side I will share a message entitled “It’s Time To Believe.” We would love to have you and your family come and worship with us this Sunday at 10:45. You’ll be welcomed with a smile, and offered a fresh cup of coffee!

In Christ,

Barry Pettit

Lead Minister

South Side Church of Christ

By Barry Pettit

Religion Columnist

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