Culture and Christianity

My religious friends of the progressive persuasion like to accuse unnamed brethren on the conservative persuasion of co-mingling their faith with their patriotism, see here. However, those of us who have been around recovery circle know the expression, "whenever you point at someone, there are 4 fingers pointing back at you." No one is out of their culture, we are, hopefully, learning to wear our heavenly citizenship more and more and our earthly stuff less and less, except for the earthly stuff that is in agreement with the heavenly stuff. In light of this, this author sounds interesting. He writes,

Here is my question: if in every age the church has benefited and suffered from its engagement with culture, should we expect that our postmodern age is any different? Our postmodern context rightly reminds us of the biblical concern for humility, social justice, and care for the poor. But postmodern Christians can be so humble that they mumble, and they can be so focused on social ethics that they begin to use “following Jesus” as a substitute for believing in him.

A few years ago I attended an Emergent church conference, where I was moved by the participants’ passionate zeal for social justice. I resonated with their belief that the gospel must make a difference in our world here and now. But one thing bothered me. As I asked one of the presenters at the end of conference, “I have heard many fine appeals this week for fighting poverty, racism, and every form of social injustice. But I haven’t heard anything that isn’t already expressed in our postmodern culture. Do we believe anything that would offend a good postmodern person?”

He also warns

Here is the point: the church always gains insights into Scripture from its surrounding culture. The postmodern world is no exception. But the church has always been captured, at least in part, by its surrounding culture. Our postmodern context is no exception.

So I urge all of us to become more self-aware. Every one of us reads Scripture through some cultural lens—conservatives as well as liberals interpret Scripture from a specific cultural perspective. Since every culture is fallen, we must ask ourselves how long it has been since we read Scripture in a way that convicted our cultural viewpoint. Are our views of truth, Scripture, salvation, the atonement, other religions, homosexuality, and hell grounded in the Word, or do they merely parrot the prevailing wisdom of our cultural context?

Let us be more Biblical. Let us be more Christlike.


It's not so much a co-mingling of politics and faith as it is the confusion of patriotism with responsible christian citizenship. Nothing I have straightened out, which is why I think many of us blog.. it's a way to process.

Also, it is sometimes vital to keep a person's name anon (as was done in the case of the blog you linked) in order to keep readers focused on the ideas the anon espouses rather than just the personality associated with the name.
John Umland said…
Hi Justin,
I don't quite understand your comment. I presented your blog as an example of a believer with a gripe about the co-mingling of faith and patriotism. The author I quoted points out that progressives are just as likely to let their politics speak louder than their faith. We are all vulnerable which is the reason for my concluding exhortation.

I'm not sure about your second statement. Do you mean not mentioning Dobson? I got that negative letter from FotF. I couldn't get past the 3rd paragraph. It was over the top, and it offered no hope, well not in the 3 paragraphs I read. Maybe it did in the end.

I hope my complaints about his pro-abortion stance did not sound like FotF. I'm doing what I always do on this blog, whether it's for persecuted Christians, or abused minorities, standing up for the least of these. On this blog, it's pre-term humans.

But do let me know if I sound just like Dobson did.

God is good
You never sound like that, man, not at all.

In my first comment, I was trying to add a bit to the concept you were exploring by stating that it seems to me many among us struggle to know where allegiance to the US ends in relationship to the Kingdom. "Co-mingling" assumes there is space between ideas and often the seed of nationalism is so deeply planted in christian hearts that we don't see where America ends and Jesus begins.

The second bit is more about the fact that if I raise Dobson's name on my blog, certain elements go bezerk and no longer engage with the ideas; instead, their angst towards him becomes the focus. Either that or (as has happened elsewhere in the past) Dobson supporters avoid engaging with the ideas because it seems too much like bashing, which I don't really want to do.

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