My last post triggered quite a bit of response and thought which is exactly what I had hoped for. Keep it coming! I'm not even sure where to begin and I'm sure I'm not going to be able to address all the issues that were brought up.
I would like to hit on one thought that Gabe brought up concerning a Christian's role in this world. To quote Gabe:
"Who cares if the world is growing more secular...aren't we as Christians really citizens of another kingdom...a heavenly kingdom?"
The thing that strikes me about this statement is how it seems to step away from any involvement on any broad level since we are not to be "of this world." Perhaps that's what monasteries are for, but we are called to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world (Matt 5:13-16)." Being the light and salt of this world doesn't mean that we retreat to our monastery or wait till Heaven and simply say "Who cares?" Being the light and salt means that we try to make an impact on the world we live in.
If we look in the Old Testament we do not see God taking a deistic approach to the universe he created. He didn't step away and say, "Well the world's falling apart but it will be better once everyone gets to Heaven." Instead he took action by creating Israel whose original purpose was to overtake Canaan and rid the land of evil. God, during the course of Israel's history, constantly tried to set them straight by showing them the errors of their ways.
Don't get me wrong, I know that it is God's place to judge and not ours. But we are called to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and to do that we look out for our neighbor's best interests.
I will get to the issue of Christians appearing dogmatic and unloving later, I just wanted to specifically address this type of mindset. And Gabe, I still love you, I'm just going to try and help you make the right choice. :)