Culture and Christianity
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.