16 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
Religion does not exist in a vacuum. It operates in a given culture at a
particular moment in time. The understanding of a living God who has
revealed a loving plan to save us takes place in real time. There is much
in our culture that is good and favorable to faith and morality. The free-
dom to practice our faith is a treasured principle in our society.
But there are troubling developments. Most history today is taught
from a secular viewpoint. Such a prevailing attitude often makes it hard
for believers to realize there is a starting point in God’s Revelation for
understanding human history. The culture in which we live is, in many
ways, individualistic, secular, and materialistic. This poses a challenge
to Christians and other believers who are asked to respond in faith to
God who has revealed himself. It often requires great patience and much
virtue to live a faith-filled life, to hand on Gospel values to children and
others, and to interact with people—often the young—whose lives are
affected by counter-Christian cultural currents.
In many ways, attitudes and actions in the United States have fos-
tered a “culture of disbelief.” The First Amendment, which prohibits the
establishment of a state religion, has been interpreted in such a way that
it excessively marginalizes religion. Society has reached the stage in which
people of faith are pressured to act publicly as though religion does not
matter. This has caused many believers to think their faith is strictly a pri-
vate matter and that it should have no influence on society and politics.
The Church’s response is to bring the Gospel into our culture in
order to build on what is positive in it and to change what is not. This
is one aspect of evangelization, the proclamation of the Gospel to all
peoples. It assumes that we first must be evangelized ourselves, call-
ing each other to an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It means
embracing truth, beauty, and goodness wherever it can be found in our
society, while at the same time removing falsehood and injustice from
We must remember that all is not darkness. There are rays of light in
our culture shed by Jesus, the Light of the World. There are seeds of the
Word in our society sown by Jesus, the tireless Sower of love and truth.
We do not work alone. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide.
Cultural change is slow, but it can take place through perseverance
and God’s grace. Evangelizers need a broad vision as well as wisdom,