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Archive for May 14th, 2009

Later at noon, I will be teaching at an apologetics seminar for a Christian college fellowship

Here is the outline:

WHAT CULTURE IS, IT’S CHARACTER AND THE CHRISTIAN ANTITHESIS

  1. What is culture?
    1. It is derived from the Latin ‘colere,’ which simply signifies the tilling or cultivating of the ground.”[1]
    2. Culture arises out of humans
      1. Humans make culture.
      2. Humans participate in culture.
      1. If nature is the first environment, then culture is his second environment.
      2. Sometimes culture touches on the natural, which man modifies.
      3. Illustration of Natural v.s. cultural
        1. Nature: An ocean.
        2. Cultural: A pool.
    3. Culture is a pattern of beliefs, behavior and values that a community of people hold to.
  2. Characteristics of culture
    1. Culture is concern with values
      1. It tells us what is and what is not allowed.
      2. Culture tells us what is valuable and the worth of people, places and things.
    2. Culture is not religiously neutral
      1. All things are to be done for His glory (1Corinthians 10:31).
      2. To do otherwise, would be violating God’s command for his creature, and thus not neutral towards God.
    3. Culture is not morally neutral
      1. Everything that man does come from his heart.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

All that man does will include culture

  1. Man’s heart is wicked.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

  1. Culture is social in nature
    1. It involves a community and not just an individual
    2. Example: Art display, ways of speaking, etc.
    3. Culture is unavoidable
      1. Man can not help but to be involved in a society, a “second” environment created by other human beings.
      2. We live in a culture, and how we live shows cultural influence.
    4. Culture changes
      1. Since culture is man-made, it is also able to be changed.
  2. The Christian response: Pressing the antithesis, and reconstruction for the glory of God
    1. Summary: A Christian should not uncritically accept things just because it’s part of their culture; a Christian should engage in culture in a fashion that gives God the glory.
    2. Since cultures are concerned with values, Christian must measure it to the Word of God
      1. The Bible and not culture, is the authority for right and wrong, and values.[2]
      2. Culture could be wrong.
      3. There needs to be a standard that transcends culture.
        1. We cannot use rules and standards for our culture to address another culture as right or wrong,
        2. A universal timeless standard is required.
    3. Since cultures are not religiously neutral, Christians must not offend God in their cultural pursuit.
      1. Once again, a Christian is to enjoy God and glorify Him.
      2. There is a danger therefore, of being too much like the current culture

“But in a society where Christianity is being widely and rapidly disowned, where evangelism is often considered inherently intolerant or even officially classified as a hate crime…the culture to which we would conform in order to be relevant becomes so inextricably entwined with antagonism to the Gospel that to conform to it must mean a loss of the Gospel itself.”[3]

  1. Ungodly elements within a culture must be challenged (1Corinthians 10:5).
  2. Since cultures are not morally neutral, Christians must speak out against evils within culture.
    1. Cultures could be wrong.
    2. These wrongs must be addressed by Christians (Proverbs 31: 8-9)
    3. Since cultures are social in nature, Christians must watch who they are socializing with
      1. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
      2. It is wise to ask ourselves, “Who are we keeping in our company?”
    4. Since culture is unavoidable, Christians must engage the culture and contribute to it for the glory of God
      1. Christians can engage in the arts[4], art history[5], music, and science.
      2. In other words they are doing these to enjoy God, and reflecting on Him.
      3. Christians should offer their interpretation of what’s going on around them in the World, from God’s perspective.
    5. Since culture can change, by the grace of God, Christians must share the gospel in their culture.
      1. Christians must not forget the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
      2. Christians must realize that cultures change, trends die down, but eternity has been set in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
      3. People ultimately need the Gospel for salvation, not just a culture.

[1] Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 29.

[2] See my outline in Introduction to Systematic Theology, Part XI: The Authority of the Bible Part IV: Objections to Culture and Traditions as authority, available at http://teamtruth.com.

[3] Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 27-28.

[4] For example, see Francis Schaeffer’s book on  Art and the Bible.

[5] Hans Roomaker’s book is in the spirit, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture.

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