Dr. Jim Denison of Baylor University recently gave a Chapel sermon that addressed our current cultural revolution. During his sermon, he used the illustration of a tsunami to describe the rapid change in our culture. Some of us look around and wonder what is happening? When did gender become a spectrum? When did the birthdate of the nation change to 1619, and why do we have a black national anthem? Oh, and according to this guy, Jesus was non-binary.
Dr. Denison opened his lecture by asking “why” the following has occurred.
- In 1980 11% of Americans supported homosexual marriage; now it’s 67%.
- Today, 76% of millennials say truth is what you believe it to be.
- Only 24% believe the Bible is the Word of God, and since 1976, the number of people that believe the Bible is myth has doubled.
- The fastest-growing religious demographic in America is those who have no religion.
- For the first time in U.S. history, less than 50% of Americans hold a religious membership in a Church, Synagogue, or Mosque.
These changes have come upon culture rapidly, just like the rising water of a tsunami, but tsunamis do not just occur. They are typically caused by unseen, underwater, or underground activity such as earthquakes. As Dr. Denison put it, “It was the earthquake you couldn’t see that caused the tsunami you could.” He identifies four earthquakes over the last several decades that initiated the cultural tsunami, the denial of objective truth, denial of biblical morality, the idea that Christians are oppressors, and replacement ideology.
Dr. Denison defined the first quake as the postmodern denial of objective truth. Summing up decades of philosophy into Emmanuel Kant’s perspective that truth is how you interpret Things through your senses, and the idea that you cannot really know the Thing. This denial has developed into mantras such as “perception is reality” or “live your truth.” Yet, claiming that the only “truth” is there is “no truth” is a self-refuting truth claim, as it is itself is claiming the authority of Truth.
The second quake is the denial of biblical morality. If postmodernism has made truth relative, then the foundation for morality has become relative. As Dr. Denison said, “Sexual truth is what I say it is,” or “my body, my choice,” from abortion, euthanasia, and gender. Biblical morality is grounded in God’s eternal and unchanging standards for His creation (Psalm 102:25-27). When society accepts there is no universal Truth, it has denied the foundation for understanding God’s moral standards.
The third quake is redefining Christians as oppressors. Dr. Denison continues that Critical Theory is based on a Marxist oppressor/oppressed dichotomy, and if you are the majority, you are an oppressor. This concept is called hegemony, and it was developed by the 20th century Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Modern Critical Social Justice builds on this concept and teaches “Christian Privilege” is a part of the oppressive hegemony. For example, a leading educational textbook in the U.S., Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, claims the “historical and contemporary manifestations of religious oppression” play “out in the U.S. through [a] pervasive Christian hegemony.”
The fourth quake is Replacement Ideology. Men were made for worship, and when we replace the light of God in our hearts, darkness fills the void. The darkness in our culture is the Self. We worship at the altar of personal “authenticity,” and if I disagree with your authenticity, I am dangerous. Likewise, if the Church disagrees with my authenticity, then the Church is dangerous.
This “danger” has led many to support legislation purported to protect the rights of the oppressed, known as H.R 5 – The Equality Act.
If passed and signed into law, the Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to outlaw discrimination on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” This redefinition in and of itself is not groundbreaking, as the Obama administration reinterpreted the word “sex” to include these definitions in 2014. What’s concerning is the Act would prevent any appeal to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. According to a legal expert Dr. Denison conferred with, if a university refuses a transgender student to play on a sports team aligned with their gender identity, it will go to court. If the judge issues an injunction and the school does not comply, someone goes to jail. It may further reclassify Churches as a “public accommodation,” and they would be required to serve everyone. If this reclassification takes place, for example, churches would be required by law to host homosexual ceremonies for same-sex unions. There is a very real chance the Equality Act could pass in the near future. There is political support, as over 400 businesses have signed to support the Equality Act, and in at least one case, two Alaskan Airlines employees were fired for questioning their employer’s support for H.R. 5.
For a response, Dr. Denison points to Paul in Acts 17. During this time, Paul finds himself in a situation similar to ours in Athens. This is a time where truth is personal and a day when sexual immorality was rampant, and the Christian faith was also viewed as dangerous. Based on Paul’s example in Acts 17, Dr. Denison gives five points to engage a postmodern culture:
- Take the initiative (Acts 17:2, 10)
- Seize the opportunity (Acts 17:16-19)
- Build commonality (Acts 17:22-23)
- Cite authority accepted by those you seek to convince (Acts 17:28)
- Always lead to Jesus (Acts 17:30-34)
Human words can’t change human hearts, but Jesus can.
Over the next series of posts, I would like to take time to understand the four triggers in greater depth. Then, with a greater understanding and a sure foundation built on Scripture, we will be able to withstand the tsunami.
 Jim Denison, The Coming Tsunami (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, September 7, 2021), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUEo4up1y6E&t=270s.
 Denison, The Coming Tsunami.
 Voddie Baucham, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe (Washington: Salem Books, 2021), 207.
 Maurianne Adams and Khyati Joshi, “Religious Oppression,” in Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, ed. Lee Anne Bell (New York: Routledge, 2016), 280-281.
 Denison, The Coming Tsunami.
 Denison, The Coming Tsunami.