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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Christianity had much more influence than it does now in our generation.

Here’s a good word about Cheerful Confidence After Christendom:

“God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.

Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”

Sure, there are definitely some unique challenges we face as Christendom wanes in our country, but there are also some gains.  And remember there were some pretty bad times for Christians that turned out pretty well for the gospel in the end.  Remember Christ is building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. So read the rest of Tim Larsen’s article Cheerful Confidence After Christendom.

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David Wells, a theologian who is adept at applying Scripture to culture, always makes me think. I just finished his most recent book and am now working my way through it again going over the highlights of it.  He makes the observation early in his book that as Christians we are not to be conformed to this world. This is a very difficult task, harder at times than we think, because we are so easily influenced by our culture.  He makes the point that our culture gets in the way of our knowledge of God so often.  The prevailing view of God today is that He is out there. . .somewhere. . . maybe. . .But we aren’t really sure if he intervenes and if he really cares about how we live.  We think of God today as a our cheerleader, as an absentee landlord, or as a therapist more than we think of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.  Our view of god is distorted.

Wells talks about the “American Paradox”: never before have we had so much but never before have we had so little.  We have high self-esteem,  but the self is empty. We have lots of outward happiness, but we have little internal happiness. We have lots of friends on Facebook, but yet we are lonely.

Wells also explains how we have “exited the older moral world in which God was transcendent and holy, and we have entered a new psychological world in which is is only immanent and only loving.”  We have also no longer think in terms of humanity and virtue; rather we have substituted the self and our own perspective on right and wrong. “Out of this has come what Philip Rieff has called “psychological man.” This is the person who is stripped of all reference points outside of him or herself. There is no moral world, no ultimate rights and wrongs, and no one to whom he or she is accountable. This person’s own interior reality is all that counts, and it is untouched by any obligation to community, or understanding from the past, or even by the intrusions of God from the outside.” [Wells, David F. (2014-01-31). God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (Kindle Locations 407-410). Crossway. Kindle Edition. ].  We do think in term of community, but in terms of self.

Here is Well’s summary of where we are heading in this culture where we have replaced the God of Holy Scripture for the God of our culture:

“The external God has now disappeared and has been replaced by the internal God. Transcendence has been swallowed up by immanence. God is to be found only within the self. And once that happened, the boundary between right and wrong— at least as we had thought about these things— went down like a row of falling skittles. Evil and redemption came to be seen as the two sides of the same coin, not the two alternatives in  life.

The truth is that all of life is being reconceived and reimagined. However, this attempted rebuilding of ourselves and our society on different foundations is leading us, if I may be so bold, into a dead end. The truth is that we are not doing very well. When God— the external God— dies, then the self immediately moves in to fill the vacuum. But then something strange happens. The self also dies. And with it goes meaning and reality. When these things go, anything is possible. Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World, does not seem so far off into the future after   all.

We know ourselves now to be on a fast-moving train hurtling down the tracks, and it is absurd to think that by leaning over the side and digging our heels into the ground we could have the slightest effect on the train’s velocity. People sense this. Many do. There is panic in the culture because we know our era is ending. Our horror movies are not just stories. They are a kind of mirror of ourselves. They surface the inchoate sense that we have, the sense of dread, the sense that all is not right in our world, that out there is a lurking menace whom we cannot see. We intuitively feel that a terrifying calamity looms over us, but we just do not quite understand what this is or even where it   is.”

Wells, David F. (2014-01-31). God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (Kindle Locations 493-505). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

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Credit: Alexander Abolinsh

Credit: Alexander Abolinsh

“It’s not going to get easier.

If in a mere decade, a society can overturn a pillar that has undergirded civilization for thousands of years, what kind of changes will come in the next decade or two? The unthinkable is now the possible.

The cultural pressure upon us will increase. We better be okay with standing out from the rest of the world, no matter how unpopular it makes us.

We also better get used to people saying we are filled with hate and vitriol toward neighbors we disagree with. And we should do our best to show the world so much love that those labels don’t stick.

Maybe the way God is teaching us to reach out to the maligned and marginalized is by letting us taste the same kind of social ostracism.

Maybe the less we seek the love of society, the more we’ll be free to love others in God’s image.

Maybe the cultural car is careening toward the cliff, and we’re supposed to be the people who are standing with our arms outstretched saying, “Stop! You know not what you do.”

I don’t have all the answers to the ethical issues we face today. Nor do I know what issues will soon appear on the horizon.

What I do know is this: when things get complicated, we should remember the basics.”

Keep reading When Things Get Complicated, Remember the Basics by Trevin Wax to find out the basics.

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HT: Truth Matters

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Francis Schaeffer would have turned one hundred years old this year. He was a man who had a great, transforming effect on the evangelical church. He saw, like few others, what was unfolding and warned Christians everywhere about where our culture was headed. Forty years later his observations have been proven again and again to be spot-on and we need to hear it still in 2012. Please read till the end; the last paragraph is especially important.

In ancient Israel, when the nation had turned from God and from his truth and commands as given in Scripture, the prophet Jeremiah cried out that there was death in the city. He was speaking not only of physical death in Jerusalem but also a wider death. Because Jewish society of that day had turned away from what God had given them in the Scripture, there was death in the polis, that is, death in the total culture and the total society.

In our era, sociologically, man destroyed the base which gave him the possibility of freedoms without chaos. Humanists have been determined to beat to death the knowledge of God and the knowledge that God has not been silent, but has spoken in the Bible and through Christ—and they have been determined to do this even though the death of values has come with the death of that knowledge.

We see two effects of our loss of meaning and values. The first is degeneracy. Think of New York City’s Times Square—Forty-second and Broadway. If one goes to what used to be the lovely Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, one finds that it, too, has become equally squalid! The same is true of lovely old streets in Copenhagen. Pompeii has returned! The marks of ancient Rome scar us: degeneracy, decadence, depravity, a love of violence for violence’s sake. The situation is plain. If we look, we see it. If we see it, we are concerned.

But we must notice that there is a second result of modern man’s loss of meaning and values which is more ominous, and which many people do not see. This second result is that the elite will exist. Society cannot stand chaos. Some group or some person will fill the vacuum. An elite will offer us arbitrary absolutes, and who will stand in its way? (How Should We then Live? [Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1976], 226–27)

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“We should make clear that we are Christians first and Americans second. We are aliens and exiles in the world and our deepest and truest citizenship is in heaven. Our decisive Lord and Leader is Jesus Christ, not the president of the United States. This first and deepest allegiance unites us with Christians of all nationalities more firmly than our secular citizenship unites us with other Americans. In regard to many American values and behaviors we are dissenting citizens. American culture is not Christianity. We believe it is not unpatriotic to criticize unjust and ungodly aspects of our own culture. (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11; Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29; 1 Timothy 6:14-15; Revelation 17:14; Ephesians 5:11)”–John Piper

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I would commend to you two articles that strike a good balance and offer counsel on the recent Chick-Fil-A controversy and how we go forward from here

Trevin Wax in “Why Chick-Fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus” writes:

What we are seeing today is a massive cultural shift that permits leaders to label Christians as intolerant and bigoted simply for expressing their views about how society should function. But strangely enough, the same social ostracism and cultural condescension are not extended to Muslims and faithful adherents to other religions. No, the prejudice appears to be directed toward Christians who dare to speak publicly about their deeply held religious convictions.

That’s why, at the end of the day, this conversation isn’t really about marriage, gay rights, or restaurant permits. It’s not about the cultural divide between north and south, liberal and conservative.

It’s about Jesus. It’s about the radical sexual ethic He put forth in His teaching – a moral zealousness that hits our current culture’s sexual permissiveness head-on. And it’s about His forgiveness offered to all sexual sinners, so long as we agree with Jesus about our sin and embrace Him instead.

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me. 

Pastor Kevin DeYoung urges Christians to practice 3 R’s as we move ahead:  No retreat, no reversal , no revilling.  He calls these “The 3 R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture Wars.”

But call it what you want—a culture war, a battle of ideas, an ideological struggle—there is no question we have deep division in America. The most obvious division right now concerns homosexuality. When Dan Cathy’s off-handed, rather ordinary comment in of support traditional marriage sends big city mayors out on their moral high horses wielding the coercive club of political power—and when the subsequent response from middle America is a record-breaking avalanche of support for Chick-fil-A—you know there is more than a skirmish afoot. I know every generation thinks they are facing unprecedented problems, but it really does feel like free speech, religious freedom, and the institution of marriage are up for grabs in our day.

 

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