Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture

Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture


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Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture by J. Paul Nyquist

The tipping point has been reached . . . What now?

Marriage: redefined. Religious freedoms: eroding. The church: marginalized. How should we respond?

It’s time to prepare—prepare for a future none of us could have imagined just a few years ago. Paul Nyquist will help you understand and live faithfully in this new America, which is declining further and further into secularism and immorality, and so growing increasingly hostile toward Christianity. You’ll find answers to questions like:

  • Are we really "persecuted"?
  • What does the Bible say about persecution?
  • How should I then live?

Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture will set forth a biblical, theological, and practical approach to navigating the challenging days ahead and a reason for hope and optimism: the power of the gospel and the possibility of societal transformation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802412560
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2015
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 820,508
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

DR. PAUL NYQUIST is president of Moody Global Ministries, a higher education and media ministry founded by evangelist D. L. Moody in 1886. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies and received a Th.M. and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of Moody Publishers' Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture and The Post-Church Christian. Paul and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for more than 30 years and have four children and four grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt


Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture

By J. Paul Nyquist, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2015 J. Paul Nyquist
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1256-0



But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

2 TIMOTHY 3:1–4

The fanciful tale of Rip Van Winkle surfaced posthumously in the papers of New York gentleman Diedrich Knickerbocker. Reflecting the region's Dutch heritage, Knickerbocker crafted a yarn about the work-averse, henpecked man named Rip Van Winkle. Rip lay down while squirrel hunting (his favorite activity) in the Kaatskill mountains. Not prone to vigorous activity and dulled by liquor, Rip fell into a deep sleep.

Twenty years later, when he woke up, he didn't realize he'd slept more than one night. But signs around him shouted he was in a whole new world. His snowy beard stretched a foot long. His dog, Wolf, had disappeared. His previously well-oiled rifle lay inoperative, encrusted with rust.

When he entered the village outskirts near his home, he didn't recognize it. His familiar haunts had disappeared, replaced by newer, larger buildings. The people dressed strangely and looked at him, with his twenty-year-old clothing, with suspicious curiosity. Bands of children hooted at him as he trudged the streets. Nothing looked the same. Rip's hometown held odd names, strange faces, and unfamiliar sights.

Many American believers today are having a similar experience. Maybe we haven't been physically asleep for twenty years, but we've been culturally asleep for forty. Insulated in our Christian subculture bubble and disconnected from the secular world, many of us have been largely unaware of society's movements. But events this past year awakened us. With our eyes wide open, we realize America's changed. As I mentioned in the introduction, the culture war is over—and we lost.

With the battle decided, all that remains—as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says—is "the terms of our surrender." Those terms are still being negotiated, and two options exist. One choice means agreeing to disagree, peaceably coexist, and tolerate the other groups sharing our American turf. This is a plausible view, and USA Today columnist Oliver Thomas supports it.

We may long for the day when people become more accepting of one another, but achieving that end by forcing people to violate their own conscience tears at the already frayed cords that bind us together as a nation. Call me Pollyanna, but I believe we can have equality for gays and lesbians and religious freedom. Contraceptive coverage for women and liberty of conscience, (italics original)

This is a preferred approach, and it reflects the principles of freedom America was founded on. But as Douthat aptly observes, a second option is emerging: eliminate negotiation and force conformity. Wielding a painful but effective legal hammer, cultural activists silence believers' voices and dismantle any intrusive elements of the Christian subculture. We won't be invited to the table or called to peacefully coexist. Instead we're commanded to sit on the edges of society or risk punishment, lawsuits, and loss of our tax-exempt status. Douthat grimly states, "Now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don't get to negotiate anymore." (italics original)

Another conservative commentator—Erick Erickson—agrees with Douthat in his blog post "You Will Be Made to Care."

There will be no accommodation between gay rights activists and those seeking religious freedom to opt out of the gay rights movement. Gay rights activists demand tolerance for their lifestyle, but will not tolerate those who choose to adhere to their religious beliefs ... Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant and then it seeks to silence good. We are more and more rapidly arriving at a point in this country where Christians are being forced from the public square unless they abandon the tenets of their faith.

While some Christians who kept their ear to the ground will support Erickson's conclusion, I recognize there are many others who—for a variety of reasons—remain skeptical. Perhaps your life hasn't been affected by the changes. Maybe you adopt the posture of the citizens of a state where I once lived: Missouri. You say, "Show Me."

Let me present four game-changing developments that have already occurred. These aren't the only significant changes, and they certainly won't be the last. But as I write these words and survey the landscape, these are among the most important shifts.


It's impossible to overstate the impact of the abandonment of biblical marriage. For all of America's (and humanity's) history, marriage has been defined by the biblical parameters: one man and one woman. This is God's design and, despite efforts to question the historic interpretation of the data, it remains exegetically impregnable.

Ironically, our government passed the Defense of Marriage Act (HR3396; DOMA) in 1996 as a proactive measure ensuring traditional marriage remained the law. DOMA established the federal definition of marriage as one man and one woman, and it passed in anticipation of Hawaii legally sanctioning same-sex marriages. Federal lawmakers feared this would create complicated issues for other states should a gay couple marry in Hawaii, move, and demand their marriage be recognized by the new state.

To subvert this complication, the bipartisan majorities of Congress passed DOMA, establishing no state or territory of the United States would be required to recognize any marriages outside a union between one man and one woman. President Bill Clinton signed the bill on September 20, 1996. A casual observer might assume this ended the debate.

Hardly. Gay-rights activists challenged the law, and the case (United States v. Windsor) eventually reached the Supreme Court in 2013. There, in a landmark 5–4 decision with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the four liberal judges on the bench, the court overturned DOMA, rendering it null and void. The ruling declared that gay couples married in states where gay marriage is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security, and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive. In an unusual turnabout, Bill Clinton praised DOMA's demise. He wrote, "In 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a right, but some were moving that direction."

Notice the cultural change Clinton acknowledges occurred in just seventeen years: "It was a very different time." A few months later, Bill and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement. "By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union."

With this reversal by the Supreme Court, state legislatures rushed to pass laws legalizing gay marriage. Using the court's ruling as a legal barometer, some states—most notably on the West and East coasts—immediately sanctioned same-sex marriages. Others found their DOMA laws challenged in court, with activist judges granting temporary rights for gay couples to marry. When legal appeals from five states (Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin) reached the Supreme Court in October of 2014, the Court refused to intervene, effectively striking down gay marriage bans in those states and paving the way for six others to enact same-sex marriage. The ACLU called the action "a watershed moment for the entire country."

The Supreme Court has not yet tackled the issue officially, but the strong message is that gay marriage could soon be legal across the country. In 2002, it was illegal for same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the country. At the writing of this book, over half of Americans now live in states that affirm gay marriage. Most legal experts expect the Supreme Court to soon accept a case that would settle the issue on a national basis. As it is, the recent refusal of the Court to hear cases related to same-sex marriage opened the door to judges' ruling on gay marriage in several states.

How will this change affect believers holding a biblical view of marriage? We'll still be allowed to maintain and practice our "old view of marriage," but we won't be allowed to criticize gay marriage. Proof can be seen in several events that gained national notoriety. If we speak out, we'll be publicly vilified.

Brendan Eich found this out in a curious way. Eich, founder and CEO of Mozilla (maker of the Firefox browser), donated $1000 to support California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative affirming marriage between a man and a woman. This proposition passed with 52 percent of the vote, declaring gay marriage illegal in California. This was the sum of Eich's so-called crimes. He led his company with integrity and, according to other leaders at Mozilla, never displayed offensive behavior.

With the Supreme Court's abandonment of DOMA, California leaders chose not to defend Proposition 8; they immediately legalized same-sex marriages. Gay activists went on a witch hunt and discovered Eich's financial contribution to Proposition 8.

The website OkCupid decided to boycott Mozilla and called others to do likewise. The wireless company Credo Mobile gathered thousands of signatures demanding Eich's dismissal and put pressure on Mozilla's board of directors. After a few days, Eich resigned from his position and quietly stepped away. His resignation and job loss weren't because of incompetency but due to pressure from gay-marriage proponents who found his support of traditional marriage offensive.

Some called for a continuing purge of those opposed to same-sex marriage. William Saletan wrote, "Some of my colleagues are celebrating. They call Eich a bigot who got what he deserved. I agree. But let's not stop here. If we're serious about enforcing the new standard, thousands of other employees who donated to the same antigay ballot measure must be punished."

Then Saletan upped the ante.

Thirty-seven companies in the database are linked to more than 1,300 employees who gave nearly $1 million in combined contributions to the campaign for Prop 8. Twenty-five tech companies are linked to 435 employees who gave more than $300,000. Many of these employees gave $1,000 apiece, if not more. Some, like Eich, are probably senior executives. Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let's go get them.

Eich's resignation isn't an isolated incident. My hometown of Chicago witnessed a similar uprising in 2012 when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy expressed personal support for biblical marriage. Chick-fil-A had announced plans to build its second Chicago store in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood, but when Cathy's remarks became public, politics took center court.

Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno went on record that he would block the company's efforts to build a store in his district: "If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don't want you in the 1st ward." Moreno gained the support of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel who said, "The alderman has the ideological support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."

Neither Dan Cathy nor Chick-fil-A had discriminated against anyone in their employment practices or policies. Cathy only expressed a personal belief in biblical marriage. But this view is unacceptable to the broader culture. Far from being tolerant of contrary opinions, gay activists will seek to oppose and silence voices supporting traditional marriage. Be forewarned.

Todd Starnes of Fox News sounds the alarm: "They [the gay rights community] not only expect you to accept their lifestyle, but they also want you to affirm it. They want your children exposed to it in their public school classrooms. They want private business owners to endorse their court-sanctioned 'marriages.' And woe be to any person who dares object."

Erwin Lutzer declares, "The day of the casual Christian is over. No longer is it possible to drift along, hoping that no tough choices will have to be made." Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sends the same message: "There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. The question is whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over two thousand years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage."


The second game-changing trend is the erosion of religious freedom. Nothing is more precious to Americans than freedom. The Statue of Liberty stands boldly on the shores of our nation proclaiming to the world that this is the land of the free. For over two centuries brave American soldiers have fought and died to protect our freedom.

While this liberty includes political freedom from totalitarian rulers, our nation's founders also ensured that it included religious freedom. The first line of the First Amendment in the United States Constitution is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

But over the past few decades, religious freedom has been eroding. A Pew Research study rates the United States at a moderate level of restrictions in religious practices compared to other countries. In addition, the study indicates there's been a "marked increase" in hostility toward religion since 2009. Since religious freedom and persecution operate in a converse relationship with each other, this guarantees tough days ahead for believers.

Congress sought to establish protection and parameters for religious freedom over twenty years ago. In response to a 1990 Oregon case (Employment Division v. Smith) that eliminated the requirement that government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws, President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). This prohibited the government from burdening a person's exercise of religion unless there was a "compelling interest" by the government; and stated that a burden was the "least restrictive means" for enacting a neutral law to achieve said interest.

In other words, the RFRA was designed to protect the free exercise of religion while recognizing that certain activities under the guise of religion (e.g., murder, rape, assaults, etc.) aren't permissible because the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting them. This is reasonable, and no believer would argue against that premise. If a person claims their religious beliefs are being violated by a government regulation, RFRA requires a court to apply "strict scrutiny" to determine (1) if the religious beliefs are sincere, and (2) if the government has a genuine compelling interest in imposing the burden.

Despite the RFRA, our government continues to claw away our religious freedoms. One contemporary example is the Affordable Care Act (2010, ACA). Buried in the weighty web of new regulations is a mandate for employers to provide comprehensive contraception coverage in their employees' medical plans. This mandate includes all forms of contraception—including those understood to be abortifacient. To obey the ACA required Christians—who believe life begins at conception and must be protected—to compromise their beliefs. The governmental agency administering the ACA, Health and Human Services (HHS), provided no exceptions.

Religious groups, most notably the Roman Catholic Church, objected to the mandate under the provisions of the RFRA and were granted an exemption. But it created a serious ethical dilemma for other Christian-owned businesses who didn't qualify as religious organizations. Hobby Lobby, a chain of for-profit craft stores with 13,000 employees (owned by a family with evangelical beliefs), faced either the violation of the owners' religious beliefs or a $1.3-million-a-day fine for failing to comply. The company filed suit against the government (Hobby Lobby v. Burwelt) using the legal tenets of the RFRA as its defense.


Excerpted from Prepare by J. Paul Nyquist, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse. Copyright © 2015 J. Paul Nyquist. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: “Awakening to a Different World”
Chapter 2:  “Crossing the Rubicon”
Chapter 3:  “Normal not Strange”
Chapter 4:  “Blessed not Cursed”
Chapter 5:  “Exposed not Protected”
Chapter 6:  “Compassion not Anger”
Chapter 7:  “Rewarded not Forgotten”
Chapter 8:  “God Our Help”
Chapter 9:  “An Encouraging Word from the Persecuted Church"
Chapter 10: "The Hope of Revival"

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This is a terrifying, edifying, hopeful, and practical book for all followers of Christ. Just read the introduction and you’ll know why.
Patrick Lencioni
New York Times bestselling author

This book is realistic, clear, biblical, and challenging. I earnestly believe that this is the book for us in this generation as we face an increasingly hostile culture that seeks to silence the Christian voice. Dr. Nyquist helps us face our foreboding future with optimism, reminding us that biblically and historically the church has always been the object of persecution by the world. I heartily recommend this book to all within the body of Christ who feel a sense of despair over the fate of our nation and the increasing attacks on religious liberty. We urgently need to Prepare for the days ahead. This book shows us the way.

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer
The Moody Church, Chicago

Luther once remarked that we should not be startled by persecution but strengthened by it. We must always remember that the Christian church was birthed in the context of persecution and that the Scriptures themselves teach that believers in Christ will be persecuted. In fact, the theme of suffering is interwoven in every book and text. A theology of persecution is enormously important for believers in the Lord Jesus if they are to walk faithfully in obedience to Him. I am thankful Paul Nyquist is addressing this topic—a topic that demands careful biblical and theological reflection.

Dr. Albert Mohler
President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

In just a few short years, our culture’s view on Christian principles and biblical morality has shifted from indifference and skepticism to outright opposition and hostility. Paul Nyquist offers a practical, hope-filled primer to help believers persevere and shine the light of Christ in the darkness.

Jim Daly
President, Focus on the Family

The question of persecution of Christians in America is not if but when—and most believers in this country are not ready. Dr. Nyquist offers a biblical wakeup call on how to respond with both truth and compassion. His urgent message is clear: the time to prepare for the howling winds of persecution is now.

Janet Parshall
Radio Host, In the Market with Janet Parshall

 As Christian persecution grows in the United States, Christ’s people must be prepared to shine His light into the darkness of hatred and spiritual warfare. Dr. J. Paul Nyquist gives urgent, biblical insight for Christians living in a hostile culture. Prepare is a must-read for Christian leaders and thinkers.

John S. Dickerson
Author of The Great Evangelical Recession

There are parts of the Bible skipped over by many of us who regularly read the Word of God—including the topics of suffering and persecution. Dr. Paul Nyquist leads us to those hard parts and helps us hear what God has to say.

Dr. Leith Anderson
President, National Association of Evangelicals

A must-read book for every citizen! Dr. Nyquist masterfully outlines the problems in our nation, biblically explains the principles, and eloquently lays out the plan that future generations are counting on us to accomplish. Dr. Nyquist implores the church to take the right stand, the right way, and with a right spirit. This book is the biblically balanced response to the tidal wave of change sweeping our nation. We all need to be prepared!

vid C. Gibbs iii
President and General Counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty Host of Moody Radio’s Law Talk Live

Paul Nyquist is truly a “Son of Issachar” for the church today—a man raised up by God who understands the times, andthrough his outstanding book Prepare has given us knowledge as to what we are to do! Prepare is a must-read! A book for now—profound, practical, and truly preparatory for the difficult days ahead. I am recommending it everywhere I speak. Every believer ought to study this book!

Kay Arthur
Cofounder of Precept Ministries Int’l., Author and Speaker

As the powerful winds of cultural change blow across our country, God’s people need to be anchored firmly to God’s Word. Prepare provides the biblical principles and encouragement we need to live righteous lives in unrighteous times.

Josh D. McDowell
Author and Speaker

The great church father Tertullian once said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” The same is no less true today. Whether persecution costs believers their livelihoods or their very lives, Dr. Nyquist has provided something very important for God’s people in his warning, encouragement, and sage advice.

Dr. Glenn T. Stanton
Director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family Author of The Family Project and Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor

Dr. Paul Nyquist gives a clarion call reminding us that more persecution is coming and exhorts Christians to respond with compassion, not anger. Nyquist’s message is important for anyone who desires to make an impact for the gospel in this twenty-first century.

Dr. Christopher Yuan
Author and Speaker

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