Coerced Consensus

Sociologist James Davison Hunter has coined a term that very effectively describes what is going on in our culture in terms of how people are taught to define reality. Hunter writes that there is a "coerced consensus" that comes about through the imposition of a particular viewpoint on a people at large. The ultimate goal of this consensus, adds Bishop Michael Sheridan (Colorado Springs), is "unconscious acceptance." When this happens reality is then defined through the multitude of messages that are fed to us continually through a media saturated culture. Bishop Sheridan believes that this "unconscious acceptance' makes dissent an act of "virtual treason." Through the clever use of media the enemy of our souls has accomplished, in less than one generation, a complete reordering of the moral life of most people, even most Christians. Bishop Sheridan calls this the "principal tool of the culture of death."

This "coerced consensus" permeates our society through television and film stereotypes and an anti-religious social system. When a Christian challenges these messages they are made to feel as if they are the real radicals who reject the basic norms of society and a proper social response. Words like "extremist" and "intolerant" are commonly used for those of us who disagree with this reigning consensus.

We have not yet been required to shed our blood for the truth of the gospel but we are now regularly put in the place where to resist the ideology of the "coerced consensus" is to invite serious ridicule and social rejection. We should not be surprised at this reality. With the death of Christendom comes the social situation that approximates the culture the church faced in its first three centuries. This means we need to train Christians much better than we have been doing for more than a generation or they will end up professing a faith without any real evidence of conformity to the truth of God.

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