A Biblical Christian or a Cultural Christian?
A Biblical Christian or A Cultural Christian?
“Which One Should I Become?”
More people including some Christians sense that something isn’t quite right about their lives, but they can’t put their finger on the answer.
After years of constant pressure from the media to worship at the altar of consumerism, this has caused a shift in values. We live in a culture that is dominated by secular views.
HERE ARE TWO VIEWS THAT ARE BANKRUPT OR EMPTY:
Francis Schaeffer suggested in his book ‘How Shall We Then Live?’, that the majority of people today have adopted two bankrupt or empty values:
- SECURING PERSONAL PEACE FOR OURSELVES: [“Happiness” ”No Worries” “No Fears” No Anxieties”]
To want to be left alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, to live one’s life with only the marginal possibilities of being personally troubled.
- ACHIEVING PERSONAL AFFLUENCE: [“Wealth” “Success” “Power”]
The overwhelming and ever-increasing need for prosperity — a life made up of things, a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance.
HOWEVER THERE IS A THIRD BANKRUPT OR EMPTY VALUE:
If RELIGION is such a big part of our lives, why hasn’t it made more of an impact on our lives and society? Since the mid-seventies a third “bankrupt or empty” value has emerged. 1 Peter 1:13-19
1 Peter 1:13-19 (ESV)
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
- CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY means to pursue ‘the god’ or ‘savior’ we want instead of the God and Savior who is. The One who is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER. (Hebrews 13:8) It is the tendency to be superficial in our understanding of God.
- CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY is Christianity made powerless or impotent. It is Christianity that makes no meaningful impact on the values and beliefs of our society. (2 Timothy 3:5)
WE END UP WITH TWO KINDS OF CHRISTIANS:
Because of the current vagueness surrounding the term ‘Christian’, thinking in terms of being a Biblical Christian or a Cultural Christian is a very useful way to explain the broad differences in what professing Christians think, say, and do.
- BIBLICAL CHRISTIANS: (SPIRITUALLY AUTHENTIC)
Simply put those who seek to live and walk by faith and understanding are engaged in applying Biblical principles.
- CULTURAL CHRISTIANS: (SECULAR)
Those, whose experiences of Christianity are more of a matter of conscience, but who have been drawn into the secular mold.
Those, whose experiences of Christianity are more of a matter of convenience rather than a matter of true conviction.
Secular Culture today is so polluted, that to be a Cultural Christian today means that your life view and lifestyle are contaminated by failed, impoverished values.
Scriptures To Be Considered:
Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Can we have or serve both God and materialism?
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV)
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Can we honestly still have ‘friendship’ with the world?
2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)
1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
Does our pursuit of holiness put restrictions on such a friendship with the world?
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
How does this passage define the limitations of our contact with the world?
1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV)
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
How did Paul approach the various peoples and cultures with the soul saving, life changing message of Jesus Christ?
Ephesians 2:14-15 (ESV)
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
Christ’s purpose is our purpose! To declare Christ as our peace, to bring peace and to make peace in order to unite all people (in the cultures in which they live) through him who is the constant One. (Hebrews 13: 8) He is the God and Savior that all men need!
As practicing Biblical Christians living in a very ‘hostile world’ should we seek to introduce the lost to Christ and His salvation by: Perhaps at times there seems to be more questions than answers, but the place for answers are to be found in the Word of God nowhere else.
- Tolerating, but not accepting the culture that we are living in?
- Rejecting all forms culture that run counter to our experience of Christ?
- Adapting or adopting to ‘the culture’ of the day?
- Blending ourselves into the culture?
- Transforming the people and culture itself?
- Translating Christ directly into the culture?
- Ignoring the people and their culture completely?
- Should the culture around us shape the way we preach and teach the Christ we believe in?
- What are the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach?
- Should culture be allowed to ‘dictate’ the type of Christianity that it would accept or tolerate?
- How should we react or respond to the diverse cultures that surround us?
- How do we continue to maintain Biblical integrity as we attempt to make Christ relevant to all men?
When we speak of ‘culture’ what do we mean by this? How is culture shaped or defined?
- Common Practices/Uncommon Practices
- Languages and idioms
- Life Styles/Choices
In the past complete cultures have been obliterated by conquest, disease or by loss of their cultural identity to a more advanced culture.
Sometimes the ‘old religion’ is superseded or replaced by a ‘new religion’ such as Christianity replacing paganism. (Constantine)
Often Christian places of worship were built right over the former pagan places of worship as a way of demonstrating the displacement of the pagan gods and the superiority of Christ.
There are ample warnings in the Scriptures about assimilating or tolerating oneself with the established customs and practices of other cultures. (The unsuccessful conquest of Canaan)
FINAL THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER:
It seems that the further we get (through the passage of time) from certain cultural beliefs, customs and or practices that were once deemed as pagan, immoral or ungodly; the easier it becomes to adopt, adapt and accept them into a new ‘cultural framework’, where the pagan or immoral connotation has been removed or neutralized through common practice or wide acceptance.
- You might call this ‘cultural traditionalism’. (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving/Harvest, New Year practices, Easter)
- Can you think of a cultural custom or practice etc. that has been helpful or useful in the spreading of Christianity?
- Is Christ living in me personally, authentically and Biblically or is He living in me through the broad prism of the culture that I have adapted, adopted or accepted?
We must continue to live in this world it is the only we have and we need to be engaged with who is in this world those who are enslaved by sin as we once were. Ephesians 2: 1-10ff and Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15-17
We cannot afford to become isolationists and retreat behind our hallowed walls because of what or who is in the world.
The message is clear that we have an obligation to reach out to sinners who can be saved by God’s grace in Christ which transcends all cultural norms or barriers. Ephesians 2: 5, 8-9
Read again Paul’s approach in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 especially verse 22 “that I might save some.” Their culture can’t save them, but only Christ can. He is calling on us to be authentic, biblical Christians of genuine faith reaching out to a world saturated by cultural practices and beliefs. 1 Peter 1:13-19