The next chapter of Peter’s book is chilling. He describes the last days of the Soviet Union and the years he lived there, along with his experiences as a journalist in Mogadishu.
The take away point from this chapter is found here, and it is a point that the church in the West — evangelicals particularly — need to learn. We need to learn it down in our bones.
“I saw no particular connection, at the time of my return to religion, between faith and the shape of society. I imagined it was a matter between me and God. The atheist Soviet Union, where desecration and heroic survival were visible around me, began to alter that perception. Mogadishu accelerated the process” (p. 92).
Cultures are religions externalized, as Henry Van Til put it. Cultures, the way we
live, arise out of cultus, the way we worship. Scripture teaches, from beginning to end, that we become like what we worship — and all men worship something or someone. There will be, therefore, a religious shape to every society. That shape will reflect the true religion or it will not. If it does not, then the shape of that society will be bent and twisted. And we live in a time when many professed Christians are fighting (via principled irrelevance) for a bent and twisted society for their great grand-kids to grow up in.
You cannot have Christian culture, Christian values, long term, without Jesus Christ. The central vanity of the secularists (and the Christians aping them) is the vanity of imagining that values they inherited from a time when Christ was honored are values that they themselves possess — like magic! — even though they cannot give a coherent account of how to get those values from the time and chance cosmos that they say we evolved ourselves into.
It is as though the prodigal son, while buying drinks on the house, imagined that the money he was throwing around was money he had earned all by himself, or that it was money that was his “innately,” conveniently forgetting that he got it all from his father.