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Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Doug Wilson has an excellent piece today on the role of the Church in transforming culture.
The bottom line issue is this. If the Church is not transforming the culture around her, then the culture around her is transforming the Church. There is no static equilibrium point. That means that the Church will either be prophetically addressing the problem of homo-marriage, or it will be in the process of adopting homo-marriage herself. Either the church will speak about the carnage of abortion, and God's hatred of it, or the church will be in the process of bringing that hated object into the sanctuary.

God did not send His Son into the world to form and establish the Church, in order that this Church could float through the world like a ghost.


Chris A said...

I've thought a lot about to what degree the Church ought to influence culture and how, and I think most Christians think about this wrongly.

I do not see this idea about the Church confronting culture about all their sins in the Bible. Jesus never did it. Neither did the apostles. We are told to have a good reputation with those outside the Church. We are told to pay our taxes and obey the laws. We are told not to be influenced by the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life in the culture. We are told not to have close associations with unbelievers, but the idea that we should directly and intentionally transform culture is not a biblical one as far as I can tell.

In the culture where the church was birthed, there was infanticide and homosexuality, and while we know homosexuality was addressed within the Church, Paul never led any crusades against gays.

The Gospel can change culture, but it must first change the hearts of the people in the culture. And you don't do that by crusading against gay marriage or anything else; you do it by prayer and the preaching of the Word.

I think Christians in our country, like any other Americans, have the right to be heard if they choose to speak out. I just don't think that God specifically commissioned the Church to change culture in the way the culture warriors prescribe. I actually see it as a diversion, and this is coming from someone who is very much opposed to infanticide and any other eugenic practices.

Darius said...

It's funny that you said that it isn't Biblical to intentionally affect culture but then seemed to say that Christians should affect culture. I think the disagreement for you is actually in HOW they do it, not that they should.

John the Baptist seemed to think that he should call unbelievers to account for their sin... and he lost his head because of it. Of course, it could be argued that John, while righteous, was doing something that Christians shouldn't do. But I think that's probably a weak argument.

I agree with you that conservative Christians should be more careful about how they approach their engagement. But this piece by Wilson isn't addressing conservatives, it's talking to the type of Christian who would claim that the Church should throw out the slave-owning believer while not affecting culture. That's impossible.

Furthermore, as Wilson mentions, it's easy to pronounce judgment on an issue that the secular world has realized is morally settled, like slavery. Moral hindsight and all that makes everyone seem righteous in their own eyes. But if the Church is truly being the Church and John the Baptist is truly being faithful to God, we won't just point out immorality that Herod agrees with... we'll tell him what may cost us our neck.

Chris A said...

"It's funny that you said that it isn't Biblical to intentionally affect culture but then seemed to say that Christians should affect culture. I think the disagreement for you is actually in HOW they do it, not that they should."

You're basically right in your understanding of what I mean. I don't think the Bible makes any mention whatsoever of an intentional and direct change of the broader by Christians. I think it is biblical for Christians to affect culture by fulfilling the Great Commission, but that is indirect.

That said, I don't think there is any restriction against Christians holding office or being politically involved. And as citizens of whatever land we are in, I think we can assert whatever privileges afforded to us by citizenship. After all, Paul did (Acts 22:25).

But here is the thing. Do we take an area where we have liberty and promote it to a priority of the Church? I say no because we have no biblical precedent for such a thing, and it can only distract us from doing that which we have clear instruction about. Why? The flesh.

John the Baptist was called, as was Jesus, to the house of Israel. Even his rebuke of Herod was not a rebuke of a secular leader. Herod, part Israelite and part Edomite, was part of the community of Jews to an extent. Plus John ministered in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. That is not the Church's commission at all.

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
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