Don’t Miss It! Two Great Leaders Converse on Christianity and Culture

By Tom Gilson Published on January 20, 2018

We don’t often ask Stream readers to watch a 2-hour video, but this conversation on Christianity and culture is simply extraordinary. It may be the most thoughtful — and important — conversation you’ll witness all year. If you can’t commit to two hours, just watch some of it. (Skip past the 10-minute intro if you must.) It will hook you, I predict.

Bishop Robert Barron (seated to the right) and William Lane Craig are two of the top public Christian thinkers in the English-speaking world. Some would phrase that more simply: They’re two of the top thinkers in the world. To hear them converse on the gospel in our age is a rare privilege. (Frankly, I’d have been happy even to spend two hours listening to the moderators, Ed Feser and Stephen Evans. They’re both outstanding thinkers in their own right.)

Protestants and Catholics Together

“I feel as though I live in a different America than what I knew growing up as a boy. If Catholics and Evangelicals can mobilize together to shape our culture, we can reclaim lost ground.”

Bishop Barron is of course very Roman Catholic, while Dr. Craig is very Protestant/Evangelical. I’ve paraphrased their closing statements, to give you a sense of how their conversation went:

Bishop Barron: It’s been a very rich day of Protestants and Catholics talking together about deep things. I’ve been uplifted by that, and by seeing all those who have come to attend this conversation about Christianity here this evening. So I would again encourage all you to be evangelists in your daily lives: the formal study and speaking, and the texture of your lives. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.

Dr. Craig: I’m very concerned about the direction our country has been going; I feel as though I live in a different America than what I knew growing up as a boy. If Catholics and Evangelicals can mobilize together to shape our culture, we can reclaim lost ground. So I would echo the admonition to live holy lives, be salt and light, and share the gospel.

The tone of that is very much in line with what we’re doing here at The Stream, as Protestants and Catholics working together.

“Catholics Thinking About These Things for the First Time”?

It’s hard to pick out one highlight, but the one moment that drew the most crowd reaction was Bishop Barron’s mention (at about 63 minutes into the conversation) of an interview on Canadian radio. He and the host had been talking about the late New Atheist leader Christopher Hitchens. The interviewer asked him, “At least will you admit that Christopher Hitchens got you Catholics thinking about these things for the first time?”

The question is either outrageous or hilarious — depending on how you want to look at it — for those who know Christian history, including of course Bishop Barron. He responded by naming Christians who had been “thinking about these things” as far back as the second century. So much for, “for the first time”!

Feeling Uncomfortable In This Culture

As for Dr. Craig, the one statement that most caught my attention was this one, at about 50 minutes:

“American society and culture is so poisonous to Christian faith, that if you feel comfortable in American culture, there is something wrong with your discipleship, frankly. A Christian who is committed to discipleship seriously ought to feel very uncomfortable in this culture.”

He gave three reasons for saying that:

  • Materialism and consumerism
  • Sexual license and promiscuity
  • Superficiality and banality: celebrities, sports, entertainment, etc.

I’m sure he wouldn’t say that everything is bad about that third category, but rather that we give it more time than we should, we idolize some of its people, and yes, some of it is really bad, too.

Let Your Light Shine

Parents have a special responsibility to raise their children in the faith.

In various ways, both men spoke the same urgent message: We’ve got to gear up in every way to follow Christ in this increasingly secular age. Parents have a special responsibility to raise their children in the faith. Questions of science and faith can be answered, and they must be.

Bishop Barren urged everyone, “If you want to evangelize, be a saint. Be holy. Let your light shine.” Dr. Craig dared us to “live counter-culturally, in obedience to Christ and the gospel.”

If you aren’t doing that already — or even if you are — this video would be a great place to begin.

 

This video was originally shared on Bishop Barron’s Facebook page.

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