At this pivotal moment in history, America wrestles with herself. The minds and hearts of this generation have become the theater of conflict. It is a war of competing, mutually exclusive ways of viewing the universe and man’s place in it. It is a clash of paradigms, of value systems, and of visions of the future.
So says Pastor Rod Parsley in his latest book, “Culturally Incorrect: How Clashing Worldviews Affect Your Future.” Parsley contends that a healthy society requires the participation of morally founded people to offer policies that positively impact commerce and government; science and technology; and arts, entertainment and the media.
Parsley is the founder and president of The Center for Moral Clarity (CMC). Launched in 2004, CMC seeks to bridge the gap in America’s eroding value system by affecting moral change through passionate and effective Christian leadership and service. Parsley also serves as the senior pastor of World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and hosts “Breakthrough,” a daily and weekly television broadcast seen by millions across America and around the world. He is the bestselling author of “Silent No More.”
The Voice magazine caught up with Parsley to discuss his new book, the state of the Church, why Islam is making inroads into America, and many other ‘culturally incorrect’ topics.
The Voice: Why do you want people to read “Culturally Incorrect” and what do you hope they will learn?
Rod Parsley: The response to my previous book, “Silent No More,” showed me that we are a deeply divided people – politically and spiritually as well as morally. I wrote “Culturally Incorrect” to show why we are divided and how men and women of faith can engage in the war that is raging for the soul of our nation.
Through this book I want the culture at large to learn why the biblical worldview is superior to all others, and how false worldviews lead to disastrous results for our society. I also want the Church to understand its divine mandate to engage the culture. I truly believe this book can be the catalyst for a new Great Awakening in our nation, if the Church accepts its responsibility to make it happen.
The Voice: So you see another Great Awakening coming? How will it happen?
Rod Parsley: I absolutely see another Great Awakening coming to this nation in my lifetime, and the Word of God is calling this generation to its forefront. It’s incredible to imagine, but very realistic – God has used previous generations to effect massive cultural change before. The minds and hearts of this generation are the theater of conflict. Conflicting worldviews have led to competing, mutually exclusive ways of viewing the universe and man’s place in it. As the biblical worldview is shown to be superior – as it will, because absolute truth will not be denied – a new Great Awakening is not only possible, but inevitable.
The Voice: In the book you wrote, “We live in a generation of believers that has seemingly made the cross a gateway for self-help and converted the call to a life of Christian service into a quest for comfort and pleasure.” Whose fault is that? And how do we move out of a bless-me-only model of church that ultimately enables Christians to engage the culture around them?
Rod Parsley: I believe both church leaders and their followers share responsibility for our current state of lethargy, but would note that shepherds bear ultimate responsibility for their flocks. Today, we in the Church judge the effectiveness of a ministry by how many people are coming to worship services. I want us to return to a more telling measure of success, which is not how many people are coming but rather how many people are going into the culture to live transformed lives. I’m convinced that the Church’s failure to actively, vigorously and positively engage the culture has led to defeatism and isolation on our parts – and, as a result, we’re not heeding Jesus’ command to be salt and light.
The Voice: In “Culturally Incorrect” you write about withdrawal and isolation from society. Has there been too much focus on the rapture and not enough focus on advancing and establishing Christ’s Kingdom culture in our nation and the world?
Rod Parsley: It’s not a question of either-or. It’s a question of both-and. I don’t believe Christians can talk enough about our hope in the life to come – it is an essential component of the biblical worldview. I do believe the Church has ignored Christ’s mandate to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, and that necessarily involves engaging the culture, contending for the truth we’ve been given.
The Voice: What are the top three things that Christian leaders can do in their ministries to stop the onslaught of anti-Christ agendas?
Rod Parsley: It’s even more simple than that! The one most important thing our leadership can do is return to clear, biblical preaching of the cross. We have neglected to communicate biblical Christianity within our churches, and that has led to the current situation, in my judgment. Far too much of today’s preaching makes no mention of self-denial, which is entry-level Christianity.
While America’s liberal churches have abandoned the preaching of the cross because of its focus on sin and repentance, many conservative evangelical churches have shied away from it because of its unpopular call for self-denial and sacrifice. Many Christians have never been told that to save their life, they must lose it! Even our language suggests Christianity can be nothing more than a line on our resumes. We’re told to “accept Christ into our lives,” and that’s an attractive prospect for someone who already believes it’s all about them.
The Voice: What do you tell the person who says, “It may be your call from God to engage the culture, but not mine?”
Rod Parsley: If it’s a fellow Christian, I’d ask where in the Bible they found a personal exemption from Jesus’ command to be salt and light! I understand many believers are reluctant to come out of their sanctuaries and engage the culture. In the book I talk about “me and my comfort syndrome,” which is the product of an “easy believe” mentality in too much of the Church. I would only add that our divine appointment as ambassadors of our King requires us to witness our faith to a wayward culture. It’s not optional and it’s not flexible.
The Voice: Do you see progressive secularists in our nation pandering to those of Islamic faith while, at the same time, battling against the Christian faith? Or what is helping Islam make inroads in the United States?
Rod Parsley: The foundation of secular worldview is a rejection of the notion of absolute truth – that whatever is true for you may not be true for anyone else. This is a mindset that rejects Islam as well as Christianity, so I don’t think you’ll ever see secularists “pandering” to Muslims as such. I do believe, however, that the “anything goes” mentality of secularism has helped Islam make inroads in this nation. Man is continually looking to make sense of his surroundings, and Islam purports to do that. I noted in “Silent No More” that Islam is still growing rapidly in America, especially among blacks. As long as Bible believers fail to contend for the biblical worldview in the culture, something will fill the void in people’s hearts for something to believe in, and Muslims are, to say the least, aggressive about sharing their faith with others, to the point of imposing it.
The Voice: Non-believers say that Christians should not shove their morality and belief system down their throats. How do you address the issue of which moral compass our nation should look to?
Rod Parsley: I am committed to talking about God in the public square, as many of our Founding Fathers did. It’s impossible to divorce worldview from public policy and law-making. Yet I am mindful to do so with respect and humility. Terrorists operate by coercion. Christians have a different way of doing things – by persuasion, not compulsion. As former Attorney General John Ashcroft has said, “It is against my religion to impose my religion.”
The Voice: You discuss holding a biblical worldview that is not influenced by Marxism, Postmodernist worldviews and Humanism, etc. There is a push throughout our colleges and universities to produce graduates that have a “worldview.” Their worldview is that of a global citizen that will one day look to be governed by international law through the United Nations, not the United States Constitution. What’s your take on this?
Rod Parsley: I am a global citizen. Through our Bridge of Hope missions outreach, we’ve been active in meeting people’s physical and spiritual needs around the world. I started working to relieve human suffering in Sudan long before it was trendy to do so. My own view is that it would be a bad idea for the citizens of this nation to cede their authority to govern themselves to an international body, either the United Nations or some other organization.
The Voice: With the introduction of new words, terms and definitions, like the U.S. Constitution being called a “living document,” are we being set up for further judicial changes?
Rod Parsley: The notion that the Constitution should change over time has been around for decades and, in fact, was a factor in the U.S. Supreme Court’s outrageous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. I addressed this situation, which I call “judicial tyranny,” in “Silent No More.” There are certainly many judges who hold to this erroneous view of the law on the bench today, but I’m grateful for those who are faithful to the historic role of the judiciary – to interpret the law, rather than make new law from the bench. Using the courts to advance a public-policy agenda has been part of the liberal playbook for a long time; it’s the only way they can get approval for their ideas. So I’m sure we’ll be having this discussion for the foreseeable future in this nation.
The Voice: You wrote about the myth of the separation of church and state in your book “Silent No More”. Since the writing of that book what has changed?
Rod Parsley: In one respect, nothing has changed. The concept of “separation of church and state” still does not appear in the Constitution! What has changed is that liberals and opponents of religious freedom have become even more militant in enforcing this outmoded concept. Around the world you’re seeing the proclamation of the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality denounced and even prosecuted as “hate speech,” and in some circumstances it’s illegal to evangelize in public. If we’re not vigilant we’ll see the elimination of our religious freedoms – all on the basis of a fictitious concept. It’s a scary thought, but one that should motivate Christians to action.
The Voice: Why does it seem that homosexuality has become so acceptable in American society? How do we combat the homosexual agenda that continues to sponsor hate crime legislation that intends to stop people like you from saying that homosexuality is immoral and their push to redefine the family?
Rod Parsley: The only way Christians can authentically and authoritatively approach the issue of homosexuality is from a heart of compassion. Love, not animosity, must be our motivation. It grieves me, for example, that the median age of homosexual men at death is 42 and for the population at large, the median age at death is 75. For lesbians, the median age at death is 45; for heterosexual women, 79. How can we not have compassion and love for people who are dying decades before they should?
We’ve fallen into the trap of labeling those on the other side as crazy, stupid or evil. That’s no way to save souls! In many cases, we have to convince our adversaries that we’re not hateful or vengeful before we can contend for the truth we bring them. In “Culturally Incorrect,” I have made the case as persuasively as I can that Christians should assertively contend for the biblical worldview and accept the call of authentic Christianity for their own lives. We possess absolute truth – God is the ultimate reality – and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
The Voice: Millions of babies have been murdered through abortions. In your book you talk about not settling for a partial victory. What is the next battle?
Rod Parsley: We won a great battle in April, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. I was present when President Bush signed that bill into law, and it’s gratifying to know that it will be enforced. Through our grassroots organization, the Center for Moral Clarity, we are involved now in helping to provide ultrasound machines for pro-life women’s clinics around the nation. We know that nearly nine out of every 10 women considering abortion will change their mind and keep their babies once they see an ultrasound image of the life inside them. Ultimately, though, my goal is to see Roe v. Wade overturned; that would send the battle over legal abortion back to the states, where it belongs, and I look forward to advocating for life at the state level when that happens.
The Voice: How can the everyday disciple of Christ make a difference?
Rod Parsley: First, by realizing that each of us already possesses the ability to make a difference. Unfortunately, most of us don’t use the influence we have over others – and we each have spheres of influence in our families, workplaces and communities. It’s also vital for disciples of Christ to understand and commit to the biblical mandate to be salt and light in Matthew 5. The current generation of believers has failed to meet the culture in the marketplace of ideas and present a relevant, compelling Gospel. We must, as Peter says, always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Only biblical Christianity brings meaningful, coherent and tested answers to our most basic questions – so believe me, our non-Christian friends and neighbors need what we have to offer; it’s just a matter of whether we will be obedient to share what we know.
The Voice: How will Church be different 25 years from now?
Rod Parsley: Frankly, the state of the Church 25 years from now depends on what we do now. If the Church doesn’t wake up and fulfill the mission that God has laid out for us in His Word, just 4 percent of my daughter’s generation will be Bible-believing Christians. This compares to 35 percent of my generation and 65 percent of my parents’ generation accepting the Bible as the Word of God. So you’re talking about a tremendous decline in the Church’s influence within two generations if we don’t accept our duty to become assertive advocates for our faith and for a biblical worldview.
The Voice: How has writing this book changed Rod Parsley?
Rod Parsley: Studying worldviews for “Culturally Incorrect” has helped me better understand the motivations for people’s actions in the public arena, especially those with whom I disagree. It’s important to understand what makes an abortion advocate or a same-sex marriage supporter believe what he or she believes. That’s the first step to persuading him or her to the rightness of my cause. I’ve also developed an even more profound sense of urgency about living an authentic Christian life, and leading those I influence to do the same.