Christianity and Culture (1)

Whatever replaces humanism must be comprehensive: a world-and-life view that addresses every area of life. Its recommended alternative programs must also be philosophically consistent with its declared world-and-life view. If it is to survive over long periods of time, its recommended programs must also be practical. The programs must work, meaning that they must be consistent with the way the world really works, as well as consistent with its own presuppositions.

A world-transforming gospel is not one that offers a religious way of life whose visible positive effects are strictly confined to family and church-hearth and home-because people demand more from a world-and-life view than the promise of a safe place of temporary retreat when the work day or work week is done. What people insist upon is a system for their life’s work that really does work. What they demand, in short, is a system for dominion.[1]

The Great Commission (Mat.28:18-20) was an all inclusive statement. After being told that Jesus has “all authority…” we are told to “go…” Every aspect of human activity is encompassed by the authority of Jesus Christ, so nothing is left out. This means that all aspects of a fallen culture are to be not just affected by the gospel of Christ; they are to be utterly transformed.

We ought to be the first to admit that we haven’t done this very well, of late. Because we haven’t done this very well, the world has been steadily declining. It is always declining when the leaven of the gospel of the kingdom of God is absent, for without a Biblical foundation, the cultures of this world will collapse into the void. They are collapsing today.

The kingdom of God is to be a transforming agent in the world affecting culture, because culture is a part of life. Cultures differ around the world, for they are an extensions of religious belief, and religious beliefs around the world differ too. The culture of North America differs to that of Finland, Japan and Turkey.

Why? Because the religious beliefs of each place give rise to specific individual cultures. In some of these places, there will be some evidences of Christian culture, and in other parts, none.

When the children of Israel entered the promised land, they confronted cultural and religious beliefs that God wanted destroyed. There was to be no compromise with the institutionalised paganism. God said,

When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish their high places (Num.33:51-52).

Some of this was physical and tangible, other parts of it were subtle and ideological. Are subtle things important too? Absolutely, because ideas have consequences. All forms of idolatry are to be confronted and destroyed.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor.10:5).

This doesn’t mean we have a licence as Christians to go destroying everything about us that we consider pagan. That would create more problems than it solves. It may be pagan, but it might not be ours to destroy, and we’d best be patient. The place to begin to confront paganism and idolatry is within our own hearts, in our family, and wherever possible, in church. Some aspects of our society can and should be challenged, but institutionalised paganism may take us generations to overcome. Some of it has been with us for generations, and will be vigorously defended by its proponents. It won’t disappear overnight.

Take abortion. Of course it’s pagan and evil: the shedding of innocent blood (Prov.6:16-17), which the Bible plainly forbids. But the bulk of the community couldn’t care, so politicians take no notice. Why should they? They’re not really interested in morality, and they want to be sure a solid crowd of people is always behind them.

What’s to be done?

The church needs to believe and be taught from scripture that abortion is evil, and begin to act on it. Yes, we can turn up and protest against abortion at an abortion clinic, and we can also do something constructive for the girl or woman who is considering an abortion. Help her to understand there is a baby in her womb, and offer her some pro-life options for having and caring for the baby, one of these being adoption.

We could have a sign outside church that says, “We help pregnant females,” with a phone number underneath. We’d need prepared people (especially women), ready to come to someone’s assistance at short notice, because this is the heart of the gospel: saving lives, especially the most vulnerable in the community, like babies in the womb.

Is that what we’re ready for? Maybe not yet, but we quickly could be. It wouldn’t take long. It would take willingness and Christian responsibility, and we’ve done this before in history.

Conclusion:

Cultures that are not founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ are unregenerate and deathly, and are crying out for the transformation that only the gospel of Jesus can bring. Christians can do something about it, beginning at home and locally. Are you willing?

If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land (Isa.1:19).

 

 

[1] Gary DeMar &Peter Leithart, “The Reduction of Christianity,” 1988, p.360.

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