2 thoughts on “Christians and Culture: What Is the Way Forward? (Part 4)

  1. Hi Aaron,

    Is this the last in this series? Do you have practical outworkings for your perspective?

    To be honest, I’m not comfortable limiting myself to four approaches because, as you note, each has limitations and good points. But how would you fit the seed falling to the ground and growing to take over everything, or the spreading out of the yeast? Which approach would that come under? Or is that too general?

    In terms of the way forward from here, do you mind if I throw out a few thoughts? (I’ll assume you said yes 🙂 ).

    1. I have recently had Psalm 11 come to mind, especially verse 3, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The answer, take refuge in the Lord and live righteously. I certainly agree, as you note from James K.A. Smith above, that the gospel has permeated our civilisation over centuries, right to its foundations. Now, the foundations are being destroyed through over-correcting real and perceived weaknesses, but this is not out of the Lord’s hands. He tests people (v4) through these very situations, the righteous (v5) and the wicked (vv5-6). It’s a time of purification, where the righteous can become more righteous, though the civilisation may or may not survive.

    2. The purification of the righteous is desperately needed. Let’s be honest – the righteous are not particularly righteous! Proud, immoral, and excellent at producing a righteousness of our own, Christians in the West are in need of sifting. We have sinned against God and others, and non-Christians know it. Two anecdotes come to mind:

    a) The illustration of a sheep thief branded with ST on his forhead who served the people in his town so that years later the letters took on the meaning “Saint”. tomboulian.wikispaces.com/file/view/Sheep+Thief.pdf

    b) A blog post (can’t trace it) was written as if from a future date about what happened to Mark Driscoll over the intervening years. Instead of starting a new church in Phoenix, he disappeared and started ministering to the down-and-out and homeless. Years passed, and rumours surfaced of his work, but he avoided publicity. Finally, someone caught up with him and found a completely transformed Mark Driscoll, making a huge difference in people’s lives through Christ.

    In light of these examples, I think if Christians take the present situation as an opportunity to repent and reform, to love and work in the shadows, that is how the foundations will be rebuilt, if that’s in God’s plan.

    3. The above sounds an awful lot like the Benedict Option, doesn’t it? The problem is, the Benedict Option requires more than just a change of focus. It requires repentance and changed lives. I sometimes read the Peaceful Wife blog, and the type of repentance and change discussed there is something of a parallel I see necessary for the Benedict Option to work. In other words, we need a renewed commitment to the Lord. We need conviction about things we are unaware of that are sinful, then repentance, then long-term working out of change, through his strength.

    4. How that flows out into the culture would be an organic thing, but also would result to a change in structures and institutions. That distinctive community of Christ spreads to the non-Christian community, meaning that the church is the heart of the society, within a society increasingly built and maintained by people formed by the church, through continual repentance and change where repentance reveals a need.

    No. 4 is ideal, of course, but I think that’s a better picture than the two kingdom approach. I prefer using the Christian who is changed at the centre and being sanctified as the model for culture and societies. Therefore, there might be two kingdoms, but they occupy the same spaces, and one is losing – not through fighting, but through persuasion and conversion.

    Can you tell I’m writing without having it all figured out?

    Anyway, those are my thoughts for the moment.

    Thanks for your posts.



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