How are we to go forward? Within days of the June 28 ruling of the Supreme Court on the Obergefell gay marriage case, orthodox Christian thinkers were hard at work at the drawing board trying to develop a functional paradigm for public theology amongst the flotsam and jetsam left in the wake of the decision. Since then, book after book has been published, seemingly coming from all traditions of the Christian faith, each seeking to forge a way for Christians who will not acquiesce to the demand of the sexual revolution to interact, and even remain, in the public square. In their new book, “You Will be Made to Care,” Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen tackle the same question, still the subject of lecture and debate and still desperately in need of a solution.
The title of the book comes from a recurring theme in the text: it will not simply be enough to tolerate or ignore massive, sweeping societal experiments imposed upon us by our leftist overlords, you will be made to enthusiastically cheer-on and affirm the ethos of each and every one before this is over. Nor will this shift be limited to the wedding industry, everyone from the impressionable first grade student to the Fortune 500 CEO will have to sing an anthem to the brave new world, or suffer blowback from a well-funded and nearly-unchecked cultural mafia. Indeed, you will be made to care.
The authors set out to write a book that is not for policy wonks and beltway insiders, and succeed in doing so. The book is down to earth and accessible at its very core, while never losing the over-arching sense of urgency or mission that often accompanies such diction. Rather, Erickson and Blankschaen prove themselves masters of the written word, not in verbosity, but in literary agility. The pair’s rapier wit and turn of phrase engage the reader in a poignant — not-monotonous — monologue that is equal parts reminiscent of Mark Twain and G.K. Chesterton. Quite simply, the authors put the importance of the battle for religious freedom in regular words for regular folks and take a crucial step in bridging the gap between the average guy who might lose his livelihood for his faith and the guy drafting the amicus brief in his defense.
If there is a criticism to be offered on the text it would regard the authors’ glossing over of Martin Luther’s “Two Kingdoms Principle” and its downstream neo-Calvinist second cousin “Sphere Sovereignty.” In speeding past two major schools of Christian thought which wrestled with questions of Church and State centuries beforehand for the sake of brevity (and only presenting those two as examples), Erickson and Blankschaen not only run the risk of making an argument with unclarified assumptions, they also run the risk of alienating those of us who might subscribe to a different paradigm. Possible examples of said paradigms might be those outlined by Christopher Dawson, N.T. Wright or T.S. Elliot. Perhaps their second edition should add a chapter that breaks down these various models and focuses on their points of convergence.
This being said, the authors do an excellent job in providing an accessible line of application for the Christian community and engagement in the present cultural climate. For months, Christian intellectuals have bandied about and debated various models, paradigms and theoretical “options” as to how Christians are supposed to preserve our traditions and teachings while swimming in an ocean of libertine sexuality and insatiable secularism. Sadly, such discussions usually end up being lectures on how to refit ancient monastic models to the information age, or which model is ultimately more virtuous or less heretical than the other five that have also been presented. In response, Erickson and Blankschaen cut through the overlapping layers of tweed blazers and pipe smoke to bring forward a systematic model of what they call “Resurgence” with simple steps of application for citizens, churches, families and communities.
An excerpt from the text about how to properly and more effectively build Christian communities tells readers to stop fussing so much over cleanliness and just open up their homes to fellow believers in need. The authors quote Rosaria Butterfield on how the LGBT movement has been better at creating community for decades:
The LGBT community is a real community … everyone’s home in our community was open every night … an open home with a hot meal and friendship was what stood between you and suicide, or you and boredom, or you and alcohol …
Often the Christian community looks very bounded and guarded, very rule-driven, very inaccessible … Quite frankly, from my perspective, it has often seemed that Christians have just grown comfortable living on a starvation diet of community. It’s hard for starving people to have a meal. It just is.
“You Will Be Made To Care” is an engaging read, one that systematically outlines a toxic cultural climate, warns of the nature of an approaching storm and simply, effectively and sensibly outlines a means of procuring shelter from the imposing tempest. If you are looking for more never-ending discussion on which monastic tradition Christians should be using as a mass engagement model in 21st century America, don’t look here. If you want an accessible, witty and poignant read about the current threats to marriage and religious liberty complete with examples on how to confront and confound them, this book might be worth a read.
Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religion and culture. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate has previously written for World Magazine, The Washington Times, Catholic News Service, Patheos, Ethika Politika, and The Christian Post. Follow him @NateMadden_IV