As many of you know by now, NBC’s Meet the Press visited Moscow, Idaho to take a look at the Christian community out here. So many good things have come out of their special report that it is hard to number the blessings. I will highlight a few of those gifts from God, then pivot to a word of encouragement to evangelicals in America that sits right on the surface of this Meet the Press special report.
A Scattering of Blessings
First, Pastor Doug’s kindness was put on display. Our nation is clearly divided and if those on the opposing side want to win, they really should not sit down to interviews with this man. When they do, his Christian character pops out like a friendly neighbor from the 1950s to say, “Hey there welcome to the neighborhood, we just baked you some cookies.” Evangelicals, who have been told not to be too friendly with Doug, can’t help but notice his friendliness. For more of this kind of thing see Doug’s engagement with the atheist Christopher Hitches in the documentary Collision, and the documentary Free Speech Apocalypse where Doug politely responds to liberal college students who are, shall we say, less than polite.
A second blessing is that Christ Church’s basic Christianity was spotlighted. The Christianity is embodied around here in Moscow, not privatized. And most Americans are accustomed to a Christianity that stays in the four walls of the church building. So we are not shocked that some average citizens, who remember their own less-than-potent Christian experience from childhood, might think that this robust Christ Church Christianity is unorthodox. We are eager to overcome this hurdle and show everyday observers that we practice everyday Christianity. Imagine our joy then as we watched the NBC special report attempt to keep up the unorthodox charge against Christ Church by interviewing a local “minister” of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Even the distant observer smells something strange in the water when a real cult leader charges the regular Christians with being a cult.
Third, someone on the documentary simply lied, saying the women at Christ Church can’t wear pants. A kind editor, who must have picked up on this low blow, cut straight to a video of several Christ Church women wearing pants while singing outside at one of our Psalm Sings. That particular section of the Meet the Press video had us quite tickled. High fives all around and big thanks to that undercover Christian editor at NBC.
Encouragement for American Evangelicals
My encouragement to evangelicals is that this Meet the Press special is another reminder to us that the times are a-changing. One of the most significant things Doug said in the interview was that Moscow was a microcosm of the United States. The divide in the nation we are now experiencing manifested itself in Moscow a couple decades ago. The Southeast is experiencing the dissolution of Bible belt culture, which for a time held off the leftist onslaught. That very same battle is going on in Moscow. But things have had more time to develop here so you’re getting a good look at what is coming to a town near you.
Now if NBC had played their cards better, they could have at least convinced a few evangelicals that there are some cooks out there in Northern Idaho establishing some Christian-zealot enclave. They could have wooed some of the Christianity Today types into putting more distance between themselves and Moscow which would result in them moving further to the left.
But, the result of NBC’s special report has been regular Christians across the country recognizing how regular the Christianity is out here. One of the tweets from Meet the Press announced that those Christ Church Christians in Moscow believe that a wife should submit to her husband and that homosexuality is a sinful choice. The response from droves of believers online was something like, “Oh so you found Christians being Christians?”
All of this is wonderful. It is a shining testimony to Christians across these United States that you are not imagining things. There is a genuine change afoot. There is a genuine divide. That divide is doctrinal, cultural, and political. If you stand with Christ at the doctrinal point, you will be made to stand with him on the cultural and political as well. If you stand with the radical left on the political point, you will be made to stand with them on the cultural and doctrinal.
What Is To Be Done?
Right there on the surface of NBC’s Meet the Press report was the truth that the times are changing and right there on the surface was a clear declaration regarding what to do about these changing times, this great divide. What is that call to action? Build Christian towns. That sounds scary to the folks at NBC. It sounds more scary than it should to some evangelicals. But step back and think about what you saw for a moment.
The NBC reporter was struck by the fact that Christ Church wasn’t wild God and Country. She couldn’t find the American flag in the sanctuary and the Trump Is Our Savior sticker on the pulpit. What she found was a Christian community. She found Christian families living like Christian families. She found Christian education K-12 and a Christian Classical Liberal Arts College. She found Christians writing and publishing books.
If NBC would have stayed around, they would have found remarkably educated women. They would have found Christians who know their Old and New Testament and Handel’s Messiah. They would have seen joyful, respectful children playing football, volleyball, dancing at balls, performing plays and musicals. They would have observed the study of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and the classics at New Saint Andrews College. They would have found the Hale Institute and the common law tradition. NBC would have been welcomed to innumerable tables of hospitality where there is cheer along with good meat and drink. They would have found a Christianity that doesn’t retreat or escape from life in the real world, but rather says that every square inch of this place belongs to Christ. They would have seen weekly worship of the Triune God with word, water, bread, and wine. They would have seen a Christian community that puts no confidence in the flesh and joyfully engages in the political process while putting no assurance in it. Saints such as these cannot be manipulated and that is a key piece of what has the attention of our opponents.
Something deep is happening here. Something heavenly is thundering on earth. NBC is worried about theocracy rising. But something greater than theocracy is here. Something far more fearsome. Something far more pleasant. To some it smells like death unto death, to others it is an aroma of life unto life.