Saturday, June 24, 2006

Christianity And Culture

I read a journal by Timothy Keller in Christianity Today, which talked about a new kind of urban Christian.

Keller asked this important question: ''How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good? "

Two movies mirrored the fractured and confusing relationship between Christians and culture this year. The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe struck fear in many secular hearts. Some journalists saw it as an ominous sign of growing right-wing power that a company like Disney would make a movie that had such profound evangelical appeal (and, arguably, content). And why did Disney pull the plug on the gay-friendly TV reality series Welcome to the Neighborhood? Isn't this, the pundits asked, what happens when you let Christians influence culture?At the same time, The End of the Spear, the account of five evangelical missionaries martyred in Ecuador, upset some Christians when it was discovered that an active gay man was playing Nate Saint, the lead role in the movie.

Major questions about Christianity and culture were raised on hundreds of websites. What makes a movie "Christian"? Do all the actors have to be Christians? If not, which kinds of 'sinners' are allowed, and which are not? Is spiritual compromise inevitable when Christians try to enter mainstream cultural production? The relationship of Christians to culture is the singular current crisis point for the church. Evangelicals are deeply divided over how to interact with a social order that is growing increasingly post-Christian.

Many are attracted to the new culture and want to reengineer the church to modify its adversarial relationship with culture. Many in the "one heart at a time" party play down doctrine and stress experience, while some in the reengineering group are changing distinctives of evangelical doctrine in the name of cultural engagement.

We need Christian tradition, Christians in politics, and effective evangelism. And the church has always contextualized itself into its surrounding culture. There are harmful excesses in every approach, however. I think that is because many have turned their specialty into a single magic bullet that will solve the whole problem. I doubt such a magic bulletexists, but just bundling them all together is not sufficient either.Instead, we need a new and different strategy.

Cultural trends tend to be generated in the city and flow outward to the rest of society.People who live in large urban cultural centers, occupying jobs in thearts, business, academia, publishing, the helping professions, and the media, tend to have a disproportionate impact on how things are done inour culture.

Christians should be a dynamic counterculture in the cities. It is not enough for Christians to simply live as individuals in the city. They must live as a particular kind of community. Jesus told his disciples that they were "a city on a hill" that showed God's glory to the world(Matt. 5:14-16). Christians are called to be an alternate city within very earthly city, an alternate human culture within every humanculture.

Lord, may your empower us to do that!


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"Christians are called to be an alternate city withine very earthly city, an alternate human culture within every humanculture."

That is a very interesting idea.

I think there is a zero sum between being a Christian community and involvement in the wider community. I think to have more of one, you must inevitably have less of the other.

To be a genuine Christian community we have to really emphasise our radical distinctiveness from the world.

Every Blessing in Christ


Rulan said...

Hi Kitty. I sent you an email with the link to those templates. I hope you got it. Let me know if it doesn't arrive and I'll paste the link here for you.

Have a great day and God bless.

audrey` said...

Oh yes Lord!
May You empower us to do that and more in our lives daily.
Thank you, Lord!

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, I think it is true that we have to find a balance between being a Christian community and involvement in the wider community.

Kitty Cheng said...

Hi Rulan, thanks for your email.

Kitty Cheng said...

Amen! Thank you, Lord!
Audrey, have a lovely day in the Lord.