Recently, I have been reading a book written by Frank Damazio titled The Vanguard Leader. He develops how our culture has taken on many similarities to the Babylonian culture at the time the book of Daniel was written in the Old Testament.
In recent decades our nation has radically changed from a Judeo-Christian ethic to post-Christian values. Damazio says that “The worldly Babylonian influence in western society has caused major shifts in how society views science, philosophy and morality.”
Early scientific research was predominately based on research from a designed universe perspective, not so today. The plausibility structures of Western society have moved to a place where science alone, without God is the standard norm. Modern science has concocted a cosmic god of its own. This so-called god has no moral attributes which has by and large led to the development of an existential philosophy. In short, our culture has become self-absorbed with anything goes, as long as it makes me happy. This culture shift ironically has led from optimism to pessimism. The only reality of existentialism seems to be autonomous freedom, but at the cost of confusion and a loss of moral standards.
Not only is God taken out of the equation, there is intense pressure for Christians to conform to these plausibility structures. That is what happened in Babylon. Daniel was placed under pressure to conform to their culture and way of life. Their government and learning institutions were steeped in humanistic practices. Damazio further says “Babylonian culture seeks to indoctrinate people, to change their minds and convictions. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make Daniel and his friends into Babylonians. He wanted them to think and dress like Babylonians and become accustom to Babylonian ways.”
However, Daniel was a man of deep convictions. He did not allow the influence of the culture around him to influence him to compromise. There are four life principles that Daniel lived by, that can help us today to flow in the direction of Godly values that are contrary to our culture around us.
- Daniel took a stand- He was willing to risk being different from the culture around him. The church is called out to be salt and light, not just go with the flow.
- He stood by his final decision- Once he made up his mind, his priorities were firm. He did what God wanted him to do regardless of the consequences.
- He respected authority- He showed sincere goodwill to the authorities, even though he resisted, he did so with respect.
- He relied upon God- Daniel prayed faithfully three times a day, even though it got him thrown into the lion’s den. However, God protected him through all of the intensity of circumstances that he faced.
As dark as our culture has become, we need to be a witness of the goodness of God. In these trying times, having a mindset like Daniel with boldness to make a difference without compromise has great potential to alter the course that we are on.