In my most recent BreakPoint column I ask, Do we really want to win the culture wars?
James Chastek, who blogs at Just Thomism (and whom I found via First Things) asked last month, “Do you even want to win the culture war?” He suggests that if we did win, then,
This would mean that belief in Christ would be policed and encouraged in the same way that our current cultural beliefs are: by manipulation of the levers of power to control spoils, intimidate dissent, and coin new taboo words and thoughtcrimes that can immediately condemn without argument and persuade without reason.
I’m not sure he’s looking at the complete picture of the culture war, which I’ll come back to in a moment, but his question does spark some thought. His conclusion intersects with a thesis that was new to me when I read it last month in Rodney Stark’s 2011 book “The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion.”
Stark suggests that the most damaging split in the history of Christianity was neither the Great Schism of the 11th century, nor the Protestant Reformation of the 16th. It was the 4th- to 6th-century split between the Church of Piety and the Church of Power. Both Churches—of Piety and of Power—were in the Roman Catholic line (for this is about the European side of church history); it is the line we all share, until the 16th century