salt and light questions

A few years ago, I heard a clip of a prominent evangelical leader justifying the new evangelical decision to pull back from separatism. The gist of the statement was something like this:

The fundamentalists lost any chance at influence of the world by their over-emphasis on separatism.


Just how well is that influence thing working?

Is North American culture today MORE or LESS influenced by Christianity today than 60 years ago?

Is it the mission of disciples to be salt and light in such a way that they have influence in the culture of the world?

If yes, how would we go about that?

It appears that whatever the new-evangelical strategy was, it didn’t work. I’ll concede that if fundamentalists thought they would influence the world somehow, they failed also. So, let’s just posit for a moment the notion that those who follow Christ are called to be salt and light in the world, and therefore to somehow have a position of influence in the world. One would presume that influence should be towards an increase in Christianity, for starters, but failing that, one would at least hope for some influence on the culture.

So, again, exactly how should we do that?



  1. Keith says:

    “Is it the mission of disciples to be salt and light in such a way that they have influence in the culture of the world?”

    In what other way could a disciple be salt and light? Salt that doesn’t savor? Light hid under a bushel? Of course the salt and light metaphors must mean that the disciples lives impact the culture around them. What else could they mean?

    • Well, I will grant that the second metaphor in particular is intended to cause men to give praise to God. That does mean there is to be some positive effect on the world. But I wonder if it is the same as influence, in the sense of political clout or moralism, which is what I think the speaker I am mentioning meant it.

      In any case, even if I concede your point entirely, would you say the new evangelical approach is working?

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. Keith says:

    Do you mean “new evangelical” strictly? As in the original NE strategy from back in the fifties? If so, I’d say the results have been mixed in the political realm — although, I’d also say that their political approach wasn’t all that different from the fundamentalist’s political approach originally.

    In the eclesiastical realm they’ve also been mixed — there has been some good: the SBC and renewal movements within the United Methodist Church, etc. And again, I’d say that even where their strategy failed, it didn’t do any worse than fundamentalism’s strategy.

    Of course in the evangelical world today there really is no such thing as “The” new evangelical movement. You have evangelicals who are pacifists and quietists, you have evangelicals who are Christian socialists, and you have evangelicals who are a part of the ruins of the “religious right”.

  3. How about we preach the gospel to the world and display the reality of the gospel in our lives?

  4. Brian Ernsberger says:

    I guess one must ask first the question, what do you mean by “influence”? If one means that we cause the world to not be antagonistic to the church/gospel, then we have one answer. If one means that we cause the world to be ambivalent to the church/gospel, then we have different answer. If one means that we cause the world to be accepting of the church/gospel, then we have probably yet a different answer again. And of course we must go back and examine the initial statement, should we even be “influencing” the world in the first place? Is not our being “salt” and “light” ultimately in relation to our presentation of the gospel message to a lost world? As such, the world will not welcome that “influence” for it exposes them to be the sinners that they are and Christ reminds us in John 3, “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Our “influence” had better be that we spoke the truth of the Word of God to this generation. Because their only hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and we, believers, are the possessors of that Blessed hope.