Spiritual warfare is a reality and Christians must realise they have an enemy, exhorted a prominent theologian over the weekend.
"All of our ministry, all of our marriage, all of our child-rearing, everything we know as believers inside the arena of the church and the home and then outside in the world is in the context of the fact that we have an enemy and this enemy is seeking someone to devour," said Dr R Albert Mohler Jr, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
While talking about spiritual warfare makes some evangelicals nervous and some are concerned about misusing "combat language", the conservative theologian said it would be an act of intellectual suicide to deny what we know is true.
It is an act of great danger to our souls and to the souls of our children if we are not aware that it is true," he told attendees at the "Connecting Church and Home" conference on Saturday, before noting how some marriages, homes, churches, and congregations are being devoured.
The two-day conference, held at the seminary, was aimed at calling back Christians to a biblically and theologically grounded relationship between the church and home.
Speaking on the second day of the conference, Mohler emphasised the critical importance of the family and the local church, which he said have become disconnected in a fallen world.
And in the context of post-Christian America, the family is very much under attack, Mohler stressed.
"We have to be better than our parents were," he said.
"If our parents by and large failed at any single or several points in parenthood, there was a support system that would almost immediately come in to fill the gap.
"At least when I was growing up what my parents taught me was not subverted in the school, it was supported."
And the only television shows on at the time were "Gunsmoke", "Bonanza", "Dragnet" or Disney shows.
"But today's parents have to worry about all kinds of things," Mohler noted. "We've got to be more alert. We've got to be more aware."
The problems, however, are not all external, he acknowledged.
"The greatest warfare is not what's out there in the fallen society," Mohler said. "It's also far more importantly something that goes on within our own soul, within our own hearts.
"It is a war by which the enemy seeks casualties by keeping believers from doing that which brings God greatest glory," he stated.
Continuing, Mohler lamented over the absence of parental influence along with weak preaching in the church, which he said were creating a generation of moralistic therapeutic deists.
Moralistic therapeutic deists, a term Mohler borrowed from sociologist Christian Smith, are young adults who believe God exists, believe God wants people to be nice and fair to each other, believe the central goal of life is to be happy, doesn't involve God in life except when a problem arises, and believe good people go to heaven when they die.
While such a belief system may sound good, Mohler made clear that it's not the Gospel.
Citing from Smith's Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, Mohler said keeping the next generation connected to biblical Christianity requires the parents to stay engaged with their children and the local church to be in the picture, particularly by providing accountability to the young adults through relationships with older people.
Before concluding, Mohler left the conference with a few exhortations.
The church, he said, must present a faithful and vibrant vision of the Christian family and teach in order to equip believers to accomplish this. And the church must further overcome the "zone of privacy and personal autonomy" that separates believers from accountability and fellowship.
"We've got to get into each other's space," Mohler asserted. "That means our parenting and our marriages and our family life is not properly ours. It is Christ's."
Finally, Mohler exhorted, "The church has to be a place where families are rescued and armed for the combat to which we are called ... a place where every week we come because we can't afford not to come."
"We've got to come back every single week and every opportunity to get armed for the combat to which we are called.
"It's got to be the place ... where we need to get together regularly and we know we do, Mohler added.
The theologian concluded: We're going to live by the teaching and preaching of the Word of God because without it we're not going to be able to father rightly, we're not going to be able to mother rightly, we're not going to be able to husband and wife rightly, we're not going to be able to raise our children rightly and our children are not going to be what we know they should be in the school of Christ."