seven_of_nine_speaks_for_the_borgI write fantasy and love the imaginative. It should come as no surprise, then, that when H&I started airing reruns of all the Star Trek programs, I eagerly began watching (except for the original—I’m less of a fan of those). Seeing them one after the other has been enlightening on many levels. One thing I’ve noticed is that the theme of adapting or even assimilation arises over and over.

Assimilation is a result of one species, The Borg, taking over the bodies of those they defeat by turning them into cyber-humans with only a collective conscience, not a sense of individuality. As the various Star Trek crews encounter The Borg, their major goal is to avoid assimilation.

But with considerable frequency a parallel theme surfaces—these space explorers from Earth had to adapt.

There’s a lot of talk in our day about adapting. We need to adapt to the changing technology, to the twenty-first century, to postmodern thought, to a global economy, to the realities of science.

The church in America seems to have bought into the idea that we need to adapt to the greater culture in which we live. So we need to find a way to make peace with feminism, we need to become relevant for the next generation, we need to tap into the way people today consume information.

Some changes are subtle, some innocuous. Some correct error from an earlier generation. For instance, I grew up in churches that looked down on drinking and smoking and dancing. In fact, the Christian college I attended required us to sign a pledge saying that we would not engage in such activities. They apparently overlooked premarital sex, however.

I say that tongue in cheek, but the truth is, while we were trying to hold the line against dancing, there were major breaches of a much more serious nature. Breaches in matters that the Bible stands against.

Change needed to be made so that we were no longer concerned with law-keeping while overlooking the point and purpose of God’s righteous demand for holiness. Legalism is not holy living, and my early church experience didn’t do a good job of differentiating.

The course corrective was not to adapt to the culture, though. The course corrective was to return to what the authoritative word of God says.

Of course, in order to do that we first need to know what God’s word says.

Oddly—I say “oddly” but it’s not really odd because I believe Satan, who hates God and wants to undermine His plans and purposes, is behind it—oddly we are not, as a western Christian culture, working hard to learn what God has to say in His word.

I’m fortunate that my church has once again instituted a Scripture reading program for us. As a body, we read a passage of Scripture together and one member of the congregation writes a meditation on the text. We also have preachers (still no senior teaching pastor, but that’s OK—I’d rather we find someone by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, who God wants for us) who instruct us from God’s word.

Currently we have Dr. Gene Getz preaching, and while he was teaching on Sunday, it hit me that I hardly know the Bible, so much greater was his knowledge and scholarship than my own. I’ve long thought the Bible is an inexhaustible source of wisdom and knowledge, but that idea was strongly re-enforced Sunday.

But I’m getting away from the subject of adapting.

It dawned on me this week that adapting is really a voluntary form of assimilation. It’s slower, though. We decide what we wish to change, and accordingly we move a little left or right. Sometimes there’s a bit of a pendulum movement that swings us from one extreme back to the other. But often, each new swing leaves us a little closer to the ideas and patterns to which we’re adapting.

I’m not talking about the issues of the 60s—boys’ long hair and girls’ short skirts—though things that seem so trivial undoubtedly did have an affect on culture. I’m not even talking about things like accepting abortion or moving homosexuality from the abnormal psych part of our text books to redefining marriage so that gays can be part of “normal society.”

The real adaptations we’re making have to do with our relationship to God.

Israel faced the exact same issue. God gave them His covenant and then His Law. They agreed to both. They would be God’s people and they would keep His Law. But once they settled in to their promised land, once they had some stability and security and prosperity, they started looking around at the nations surrounding them.

Look at their gods, at their religious activity, at their power structure. We want to be like them!

King Manasseh was probably the worst. He ruled for over a half century, and under his rule Judah adapted quite well to the nations around them. They started worshiping their gods, erected idols like theirs, practiced witchcraft like they did, instituted child sacrifice like they did. All the things the Canaanites had done which caused God to kick them out of the land, the people of Judah copied.

They adapted.

After all, worshiping one god was passé. Following His law, observing His feast days, making sacrifice to Him because of their sins was just so yesterday.

In the same we, we adapt today.

Is the Bible really authoritative? Might it not be simply a collection of myths, some infused with good, moral teaching? The rest, of course, is thoroughly forgettable because it is so passé. One God? One way to Him? Certainly all ways are equal. After all, we believe in egalitarianism. How could one way be better than the others.

And so it goes as we listen to “higher criticism” and progressives and univeralists and a host of other false teachers who show us how we can slice and dice the Bible until it says what the rest of the culture says. So of course abortion is OK, and homosexuality, and women preachers, and people ignoring their contractual commitments—in business or in personal relationships. Of course a little pandering to the wealthy is acceptable, a little bribery, a little lying. After all, it’s just business.

What’s more, what matters most is not God and His righteousness. What matters most is that we are not offensive to anyone, even as we push our way to the top. We must love, at the expense of truth if necessary, so that people will like us and accept us and support us.

That’s a snapshot of Christians adapting.


  1. ooo—THE BORG!!!!


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  3. Have you seen Star Trek: Deep Space 9 “Accession”? It has a great many good questions about religion and a society that had to adapt to a reality that made tradition impossible. Among them is this dialogue:

    Odo: Forgive me, Major, I don’t mean to be difficult, but your faith seems to have led you to something of a contradiction.
    Kira Nerys: I don’t see it as a contradiction.
    Odo: I don’t understand.
    Kira Nerys: That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it, you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.

    To an extent, adaptation is unavoidable; the difference is that the Borg destroy individual identity whereas humanity’s goal is for the individual to improve him or her self to their highest potential. There’s a certain degree where just attending church you adapt. You wanted to study 1 Corinthians 13, the Pastor teaches from John 4; you adapt. You wanted to listen to contemporary music, the worship leader plays bluegrass: you adapt. There would be dissonance and chaos if each individual Christian did as he or she wanted and the service would break down into disorder because of it; so we adapt and assimilate for the sake of unity and honoring God for an hour or so a week.


    • I did see that particular DS9. They surprise me sometimes by the spirituality they explore, though of course it’s quite Buddhist, especially with Odo joining the Great Link in the end. But the presence of prophets/worm hole aliens who are worshiped like gods brings up more religious questions than the others. Though the edition of Voyager last night presented the question, What happens after you die? No real depth to it, but it was impossible to miss.

      About adapting. The trick is to know what is right and appropriate and what is a step toward assimilation. I sometimes use the Amish as an example. They basically froze their culture at a certain (arbitrary) point in time. Is that what we should do too so that we aren’t being assimilated by the culture? I don’t think so. There’s no Scripture that says we should used horse drawn carriages instead of cars. Or that electricity is bad or phones. When we stand against compromise or adaptation or assimilation, it needs to be on Biblical principles. There should be no shifting our position when it comes to God created the heavens and the earth, for example. That’s not to say we can’t explore the possibilities of how God went about doing that at the word of His command. Same with the inspiration of Scripture and Christ’s divinity, and a lot of fundamental, Biblical doctrines. So maybe we could say it like this: when it comes to personal preference, adaptation is fine, but when it comes to Biblical principle, there’s only the one way.



      • For the longest time I was annoyed that they killed Neelix’s faith, I eventually came to see it as an exploration of: “What if what you expect to happen when you die doesn’t and you come back?” “How do you find meaning?” There are lots of people who have Near Death Experiences that are either positive or negative, but a great many more that don’t experience anything at all.
        For me, the question usually comes down to: “what is Biblical principle?” The Amish, after all, have head coverings in obedience to 1 Corinthians 11’s first half of verses. Our culture doesn’t obey the Bible on that point.
        I’m not so keen on making “God created the heavens and the earth” as a matter of primary importance because I watched Young Earth Creationism wreak enough havoc as it is. I don’t think it’s necessary to believe in it in order to believe in Jesus and what he did for us; after all, he didn’t die so that we might all become creationists.


  4. Unlike you, I prefer the original Star Trek to all the sequels.
    Like you, I know that the Church must remain faithful to God and his Word rather than adapting to the world–“do not conform, but be transformed…” At the same time, the Church must translate the Word of God so the surrounding world can understand it. That’s more than a matter of rendering Hebrew and Greek in English; it means hearing the world and speaking to it in contemporary language rather than Christian clichés and obsolete metaphors. J.

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    • Well said. We shouldn’t parrot phraseology that we heard growing up, expressions that don’t mean much if anything to those with no knowledge of the Bible. But our pastors shouldn’t stop preaching and listen to us more, as one book I recently read suggested. Other ways we accommodate the culture too.

      And I understand the Star Trek thing. I might be the only one who prefers the later ones. 😉



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