church · Community · culture · evangelism · family · Uncategorized

Culture and Christianity

After reading an interesting article on the game Dungeons and Dragons, I have been thinking a lot about the Christian response in the midst of culture. I am working through how a Christian should respond to moral relativity here, here, and here. The article about Dungeons and Dragons talked about the effect of the game on fantasy and science fiction culture over the years–noting especially the thoughts of Albert Hsu at suburban Christian who stopped play D&D because Bill Gothard condemned it.  Gothard, however, did not provide an alternative culture for Christianity. It appears that Gothard takes a classic “Christ against Culture” view as defined by Richard Niebuhr in his landmark work Christ and Culture.  Those who hold a Christ against culture view “uncompromisingly affirm the sole authority of Christ over the Christian and resolutely rejects culture’s claim to loyalty” (45).The view of Christ against culture, from Niebhur’s perspective, flows from logic and chronology. Logically Christians make Jesus Lord of their life.  Chronologically, the earliest Christians were utterly opposed to an oppressive empire. If we are Christians who are make Jesus Lord and really live in a society that is contrary to oppressive empire, then we must reject the culture that creates empire. Wes, although he does not accept a view of Christ against culture in totality, does a good job of explaining how and why the church is an alternative society to empire.Over at Inhabito Dei, Halden is using Johann Batist Metz to talk about the ecclesiological difference between churches that respond with relationships rather than money. Many churches simply believe that throwing money at a problem will bring about results. Recently, at EV Free West Covina, a plan was developed to spend money on 1,000 Francis Chan DVDs to send them out in the community. The pastors rationale was that about 2% of those people who see the video will come to church and become a Christian. In other words, about 20 people will become Christians if they see a video. On a larger scale, American Christians often believe they can change culture by throwing money at it. For instance, if we had taken the money towards 1,000 DVDs and put it towards 1,000 meals that we ate with non-Christian friends in order to fellowship, and (as Wes says in the post noted above) “share in their suffering,” would  we be more successful? It really depends on how you define success.Success, as I will define it here, is the church effectively creating a viable alternative to empire by creating a distinctly Christian church that looks after the least of these.  No more DVDs will be made with a Christian message because we will be the Christian message.  We will embody Christ to the least of these.  We will take care of those who cannot look after themselves (the widows and the orphans).  For an interesting view of this type of church see Michael Spencer’s thoughts on the church here.

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