Thursday, November 24, 2011

No Cultural Christianity

It seems to me that as soon as any nation becomes settled enough to try to bottle Christianity as their own cultural experience, that is when God will rearrange the world. Not allowing Christianity to be bound to any one culture is essential to the spread of the Gospel. While all other major religions are still primarily concentrated in the area of their origin, the focus of Christianity in the world has shifted many times -- Palestine to Mesopotamia, Europe to the U.K. and U.S. and now booming in Africa and Asia among other places. The reason is that the Gospel transcends culture. It enhances and unlocks the full potential in the culture of it's adherents rather than destroying it and/or attempting to replace it. Obviously, certain aspects of the culture will inevitably be changed. What I mean is that an Asian or Latin American person does not have to become Europeanized or Americanized (or whatever the case may be) to embrace the Gospel.

I have decided to call this phenomenon the "Tower of Babel Syndrome". We Christians have a built in tendency to journey only so far before we settle on the "plains" of our own "Shinar". That happens when we start to believe that we have gotten all that we need from God and we can handle the rest. We are content to blend just enough of the "God ingredient" with our lives/culture to make it pleasant but not uncomfortable. Of course, we will call God in if we think we need something, but otherwise we are busy building our own monuments. We need to tear down these towers, regardless of how grand or "religious" they may appear and embrace the everlasting Kingdom that God is building in us, with us and all around us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Better than everyone else?

A common claim of Atheists is that Christians will by necessity view non-Christians as "2nd class citizens". Because of this they conclude that all public displays of Christian symbols and beliefs are not just offensive but have the effect of subverting all non-believers to a lower social standing. That idea historically and Biblically incorrect. Granted, religion by itself will almost always produce that outcome, but the Gospel of Christ is radically unique in this regard.

It is well documented that during the 1st and 2nd century Roman empire (and it could be argued throughout history) it was the TRUE Christ followers who demonstrated the most inclusiveness. The pagan Romans discriminated against people socially and the Jewish were racially prejudice. But the early Christians reached out to care for people regardless of their race or social standing. The question is, why? Answer: because at the very core of the true Christian Gospel is a man (who was God incarnate) suffering and dying for people who did not love him and did not accept his message. Anyone who follows his example today has no excuse for looking down on anyone. Taking it a step further, God's grace ought to humble a Christ follower to the point that they consider others (Christian or not) better than themself.