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In conformity with Nietzsche’s prophecy, the modern West is experiencing a radical desacralizing of the social order, unprecedented in world history. The great theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer described it as an era in which Westerners had learned to manage life without reference to God. American sociologist Philip Rieff refers to our era as one in which social order has been severed from sacred order, leaving Western society without a transcendent matrix of meaning or a normative code of ethics. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor argues that our age is one in which Christianity is increasingly considered implausible and unimaginable.

In such an era, characterized by the increasing implausibility of historic Christianity, and especially of Christianity’s teaching on gender and sexuality, it will be unsurprising if social activists and political leaders make moves to weaken the family, to undermine Christian parents’ ability to catechize their children. In response to any such attempt must be resisted. The family is the most basic institution of society, the first institution to appear in Scripture and in history. Families are the foundation of a society’s well-being, and their flourishing is the surest indicator of a society’s overall health.

How, therefore, can we protect the family’s primacy in a secular age? At a minimum, we must promote a vision for societal pluriformity, draw upon existing religious liberty laws, and expose the pernicious effects that will flow from weakened family units.

Group discounts for schools and other organizations available.

Register and pre-pay for 4 lectures and get the 5th free. Call 616.454.3080 to order.

This lecture will be livestreamed @ 12 noon on July 18 for those who cannot join in person.

Bruce Riley Ashford, Ph.D.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Professor of Theology & Culture

Bruce Riley Ashford is Provost and Professor of Theology & Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Letters to an American Christian (B&H, 2018), One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics (B&H, 2015), and Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians (Lexham, 2015). He is married to Lauren, with whom he has two daughters and a son.

He has been featured in Fox News Opinion, First Things Magazine, USA Today, The Daily Signal, The Daily Caller, The Gospel Coalition, and other national outlets. He has appeared on National Public Radio (NPR), Fox Radio, and many other nationally syndicated shows.

He is a Senior Fellow in Public Theology at the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (Cambridge, UK), and a participant in the Dulles Colloquium of the Institute on Religion & Public Life (New York, NY), and a Research Fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (Nashville, TN).

He has spoken at universities, seminaries, and churches across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including those associated with the Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist, and Assemblies of God denominations.

Event Details

Start Date


Acton Institute | Mark Murray Auditorium
98 E. Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


11:30 a.m. Doors open
12:00 p.m. Lecture begins
12:30 p.m. Q&A
1:00 p.m. Lecture ends


$15 General | $10 Student
Includes box lunch and beverage

(Please RSVP at least 48 hours in advance to guarantee a box lunch.)

Group discounts for schools and other organizations available.
Register and pre-pay for 4 lectures and get the 5th free. Call 616.454.3080 to order.


Directions to the Acton Institute

Metered street parking is available. Please bring sufficient change with you for meters or pay for parking with the Motu Parking app on your smartphone (iOS and Android). 

Paid parking lots are also available nearby. Please enter building off of Sheldon Blvd.

Map showing nearby parking.pdf