Christianity and Cultural Transformation

I heartily agree with the answer Phil Ryken (of Reformation 21 fame) gave to this question:

Does Scripture call the local church (by which we mean the local church as the local church, not as individual Christians) to the work of cultural transformation?

He begins by stating:

There is a sense in which the answer to this question must be “no.” The church’s primary calling is to preach the gospel and to worship God in the ministry of the Word, the sacraments, and prayer. While the worship of God and the proclamation of the gospel have a transforming influence on the surrounding culture, this does not happen directly, but indirectly, as the people of God live out the implications of their faith in every aspect of life.

Yet there are also ways in which the answer to this question must be “yes.”

His answer is short, but thought-provoking.

4 Responses to “Christianity and Cultural Transformation”

  1. kerri says:

    Interesting. Our church has a “Our Culture” page on it’s website that was part of what initially attracted me to it. I think the children at our church are all raised with a real awareness of their distinct cultural upbringing including the Psalms/Hymns we sing, the meal we share afterwards, distinct Christian education (When one becomes a member you have to sign a statement that promises that you will give your children a Christian education.) I think it’s very telling when on Facebook all the kids list each other as friends. It is sort of a collective community identity and it draws others in when they come because they wish they had that sort of community in their lives as well. I do think the church changes culture, and that begins by establishing her own.

  2. Joyce says:

    Hi, Kerri,
    I love your comment, “I do think the church changes culture, and that begins by establishing her own.” The way I understand your comment is: When we have been regenerated by God’s power, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and are growing in grace and in love for one another, only then are we truly in a position to affect the world around us. Is that accurate?

  3. kerri says:

    Yes, in a way, though I think a lot of people take that rather vaguely. Like that Christianity will make you a nicer person, more helpful, less likely to watch certain movies, etc. In our church there is a pretty wide range of people. Really conservative, (The Doorposts family goes there-if you’ve ever seen their products)to the kids who wear jeans and go to concerts, etc. So I’m not talking as much about the individual lifes styles so much..Though there is a certain measure of that. Like dating is discouraged, though nobody actually defines courtship, so there is a range on that.

    A large part of it I think is that the children are in church from day one and they have a shared liturgy. I think we under estimate the importance of liturgy in developing cohesiveness in a church body and also in establishing culture for the church-not to mention covenant renewal with God. There is a level of unity, even among the kids who you know can sometimes be less likely to accept differences in others. And in that cohesiveness we share the knowlege that there is something different about us because we are “RCCer’s” and we have this shared culture between us. Then we are in a position to invite other people into our culture, rather than us always trying to enter into theirs. I think we under estimate how the world hungers for a feeling of belonging and a shared culture is a large portion of how we determine who we “belong with.”

    So that’s what I mean. I guess. I’m kind of feeling my way through trying to explain. 🙂

  4. Joyce says:

    Thank you, Kerri, for such an interesting and thoughtful comment. Our pastor is very interested in liturgy, also, and very good at explaining “why we do what we do.” I think our young people must be convinced, personally, of the principles behind what we parents and other older Christians do, or these things will not long endure. (Not that I’m disagreeing with you; that’s just my further comment.)