What is Your Relationship With Culture? – Part 1.

In Andy Crouch’s book, “Culture Makers” he suggests four basic postures the Church historically, especially recently, has towards the dominant culture around it.

The first reaction is one of judgment, the pointing finger, the ‘we vs them’ lines of distinction. We can all think of cultural norms which solicit this at times, but does it change culture?
The second reaction is one of intellectual criticism. Perhaps something isn’t worthy of condemnation, but is a complex issue, deserving of dialogue and co-operative learning on the part of the Church before it forms rigid dogma. Does this posture change culture?
When the Church embraces elements of culture as undeserving of condemnation, and even worthy to adopt within the Christian worldview, it copies culture. Does this change culture?
Finally, the Church once it adopts culture, it becomes a consumer of it. I think we can all agree, consuming the dominant culture at large, does not impact or change culture.

Is there a better attitude or posture we believers should have towards culture? I think there is, and Crouch makes this observation.

We could, if we took some time, come up with many different topics, cultural themes which would fit into each of these categories. One of the difficulties is that when we focus on these often divisive topics, not every believer agrees with our own agreed posture. We may each hold to the authority of Scripture, even belong to the same church, and yet understand a cultural trend or topic differently. One condemns, another open to a different interpretation and still others adopting a christian version for their own consumption within their christian sub-culture.

What if all four postures towards culture are less than what we are truly called to be and do in our world? What if our response towards culture should come from a place of creativity as we’re restored in Christ to expressive, gifted, story-telling, and authentic selves?

“The only way to change culture is to create more of it.”

Andy Crouch

What if we were designed to co-create with God. What if embedded in our divine image bearing selves, is the ability to create cultural, visible, felt, tasted, heard expressions that reflect the world that should be. The Kingdom, Christ said, has come. We do, and should have a story to tell. What if, instead of condemning or critiquing as our primary postures (defensive as they are), we are Kingdom culture makers in a broken world desperately in need of repair.

During the first four centuries of the Church, it was the radical Kingdom expressions of equality, service, love, sacrifice which propelled this revolution of Christianity throughout Rome, despite often strict opposition of the dominant culture. Without this vision, we’re relegated as the body of Christ to the sidelines, incubated, even secularized in a corner of culturally permitted Christendom. It’s sad that our posture too often as Christians is that of a people ‘opposed?’ Opposed to what, the world? The world in need of a Savior? The world for whom the Father sent His most loved Son to suffer for? We need a new posture than that of a condemning, criticizing, copying, and consuming Christian culture. This is far, far less than what the Father intended us to be as salt, light, and Kingdom culture makers in this world.

Christian faith malfunctions when it is practiced as a mystical religion in which assent is followed by a barren rather than creative return, a return that has no positive results for the world.”

Miroslav Volf

In the next blog, I will share some really interesting concepts that comprise our worldview. If you haven’t a vision for how the world should be, under the reign of Christ, it will be very difficult to embark on culture creation. The places and spaces we create, the reflections of our worldview through all kinds of artistic expression, should inspire, attract, convict, and be shared with our world.

Think of the many ways we absorb and are shaped by cultural expressions. Next we will dive more deeply into the concept of culture and our potential to create within it.

You are already creating cultural expressions, things that you deeply value. Perhaps you just don’t realize it. From the wafting aroma of the baked cookies, to the smile you give someone that you don’t know. We are communicating, expressing in so many ways.

What is your vision of the way the world should be?

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