Pastor J.D. talks about the celebration of post-Christian culture within the church and whether or not that’s a good thing.
A glimpse inside this episode:
Distinction is good–but only those who have lived in a privileged Western lifestyle would ever say something like that. The loss of human dignity that comes from a crumbling Christian worldview is devastating. Sin corrupts.
Rebecca McLaughlin who we just spent a few weeks hearing from:
- Many of the reasons secularists claim to oppose Christianity are actually rooted in Christian soil. The idea that human beings are equally, morally valuable, the idea that the oppressed should be cared for, the idea that men and women are equal, the idea that unborn babies should matter, the idea of racial justice an unity… all of these things come to us out of the Bible.
- There’s an Israeli atheist historian named Yuval Noah Harari who wrote Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. One of the things he’s clear about in that book is that Christianity is the idea that we think that human beings are equally morally valuable. When you think of something like human rights, apart from Christianity, that’s a figment of our imagination.
- Just as chimpanzees and hyenas and spiders have no human rights, why would humans have rights apart from a biblical worldview where humans are made in the image of God?
So, what is our attitude toward culture?
Two extremes: Assimilation or separation? You have a third choice—transformation.
Hard to think about this without pulling in a classic book by Richard Niebuhr: Christ and Culture.
H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic book, Christ and Culture, has influenced or at least informed the discussion, notably among Western evangelicals, since it was published in 1951. Niebuhr proposed five models, which he labelled as: 1) Christ against culture; 2) Christ of culture; 3) Christ above culture; 4) Christ and culture in paradox; and 5) Christ the transformer of culture.
Carson: Culture and Christ Revisited. First two aren’t even biblical.
When it comes to engaging culture, Carson rightly argues that one size doesn’t fit all: Christians have different cultural concerns in 21st-century North America than in 19th-century Northern Europe or the killing fields of Cambodia or present-day South Sudan.
How can we impact our culture?
One of the things I told our church was that you can’t make a difference unless you are different. One of the ironies of Christian history in our country — around the mid 20th century, as our culture began to change its opinion on orthodox Christian teaching and Christian morality, changed right along with them. They said things like, “If we don’t change our old-fashioned, outdated views on these things, we’ll be so offensive to our culture we’ll lose all influence.” And yet, those churches and denominations that did that–they’ve been the ones that shrunk the fastest. Today, their numbers are incredibly small and they’ve become altogether irrelevant.
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