Monday, December 16, 2013

Shooting Straight on Culture

Okay.  I'm ready for my wrist to get back to normal!  

It's now week two of the "Pain Strain Right Wrist Twist," my unwelcome memento from the "icemageddon" that slammed north Texas two weekends ago.   I had slipped on some ice, sprained my right wrist, and can still barely type a complete sentence, even though most of the swelling has gone down. 

In the meantime, then, how about some bullet-pointed thoughts on various topics, instead of essay-style posts?  Most people seem either unable or uninterested in following a train of thought longer than a bullet point these days, anyway.  Weapons experts say bullets are one of the fastest ways of communicating something, so hopefully we can communicate with grammatical bullets.

And not leave any scars in the process.


Today's Topic:  Shooting Straight on Culture, Music, and Sanctification
  • First of all, can we agree that all cultures may have positive, negative, and neutral qualities?  And that cultures do not inherently hold value?  They're also rarely whole units, but an amalgamation of various trends that ebb and flow based on ancillary factors, like the economy, politics, and geography.
  • After all, just look at what many people call America's "culture."  To be honest, doesn't your definition of American culture vary from mine?  Doesn't "culture" depend on who's describing it?  How authoritative does that make our descriptions?  How sanctimoniously should we defend our "cultures?"
  • Secondly, can we agree that the Tower of Babel was not primarily God's tool for creating diverse cultures, but to remind us mortals that we are not omnipotent?  Diversity itself may have admirable qualities, but does that automatically mean applying diversity to cultures, automobiles, hair styles, tomato sauces, political ideologies, opinions on pre-born life, and music is just as admirable?  Is cultural diversity inherently good because God scattered peoples across His creation - because they wanted to build a monument to their own capabilities, is it?  Is it the expressions, traditions, expectations, moral structures, and music within cultures that matter most to God, or is it the people within each culture?
  • In fact, could it be said that multiculturalism is one of the results of sin, and the fall of mankind, not only in the Garden of Eden, but the great flood of Noah's day?

  • God used the Holocaust to bring people to Himself.  Witness, for example, the ministry of Corrie Ten Boom.  So does that mean the Holocaust was worthwhile after all?  Was it "redeemed?"  Does that make the Holocaust something honoring to God?
  • Can we agree that the popularity of anything is not sufficient justification for that thing?  If a group of seminary professors, or professional musicians, or pastors all agree on something, does that make it right?  Some evangelicals are fond of saying that they want to make God "famous," but fame and popularity are two different things, right?

  • Are discipleship, corporate worship, and evangelism about fame, or popularity?  Or something else, like honor?  After all, fame isn't the same as honor, is it?
  • Would you say that music appropriate for the worship of God is worship that ascribes to Him characteristics embodying the Fruit of the Spirit?  Or is God glorified simply through music and art that embodies the qualities of a particular culture?  Do people know we are saved because of the culture(s) with which we identify?  Who gets to decide what parts of any culture are appropriate for God's people to participate in?
  • When we get bemused or belligerent when somebody says a certain aspect of culture isn't appropriate for Christians to participate in, how reliable are our presuppositions and personal preferences as guides for how we challenge, refute, encourage, or otherwise engage in any rebuttal?  Whose culture gets priority in such discussions about cultural relevance and importance?
  • Can seminary professors, preachers, and other professional Christians be wrong about Biblical concepts?  How strongly can a Christian subculture negatively impact Biblical concepts?  How eager are we to assume that simply because we like something, and a favorite Christian celebrity also likes it, it must be good?  Is life too short to conduct vetting processes on what we've determined to be arbitrary judgments like musical tastes to determine if our judgments are accurate or not?
  • How much of a role does one's culture play in the ability of the Holy Spirit to teach His doctrines of grace, reveal sin, and guide us to repentance?  How reliant are we on culture instead of the Holy Spirit when we share the Gospel?  How much of our understanding of the Gospel is based on our personality?  Our worldview?  Our upbringing and education?  To what degree do we superimpose our own cultural background on our opinions?  Does doing so create a hierarchy of cultural viewpoints, with our particular one holding higher credibility than somebody else's?
  • Does the Bible ever specify a point in time at which all of us believers will be in complete accord regarding the customs and practices that are otherwise foreign to us?  Yes, and that time will be in Heaven, correct?  Together with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we'll join the Church Triumphant from "every nation and tribe" to share in the adoration of the Trinity.  Until that time, however, how are we to conduct ourselves?  Especially in those times when we don't - or won't - agree?
  • How counter-cultural is that love with which we're supposed to treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?  No matter the culture from which we've come, or feel the most comfortable associating with?

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