Does the Bible lead us to expect that Christians will be able to transform society?
In order to answer that question we need to put a few biblical and theological pieces into their proper place:
- The gospel transforms those who believe it (2 Cor. 5:17). As believers grow in godliness, every area of their lives will increasingly reflect the character of God, which should have a significant impact in that person’s sphere of influence.
- Christians are called to be salt and light to the world (Matt. 5:13-16). To the extent that we’re faithful to that calling we will have a positive impact on the society we live in.
- However, the New Testament seems to indicate that in general, society will continue to oppose Christians, persecute Christians, and even hate Christians (Jn. 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:12; Mark 13:13; Jn. 15:19). That there have been occasional exceptions to this only proves the rule.
- Moreover, the Bible presents the entire course of fallen human history as a general slide deeper into sin punctuated by periodic judgments and occasional revivals of true godliness. Examples:
- The whole history of Israel pictures this slide deeper into sin. Consider the progression evident in the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings.
- In the New Testament, human depravity culminates in God’s condemnation of Babylon in Revelation 18, which symbolizes the totality of fallen human culture.
- The bottom line is that the Bible nowhere leads us to expect large-scale, far-reaching societal transformation.