christians and culture

Carl Trueman is raising a contrary voice to the current fashion of cultural engagement in evangelical churches and doing it with style. This article holds together tightly and is not very amenable to slicing out a piece for a tease, but here is the introductory paragraph anyway. you really should go read the whole thing. It is a hoot. And I mean that as a compliment. Any time somebody takes this strong of a position and does it with this kind of style, then I like it.

One of the modern shibboleths of the evangelical church, particularly the evangelical church in the West, is that of culture. One must be interested in culture, or one is simply irrelevant. Books and organizations abound on Christian approaches to various aspects of modern culture; there are magazines and e-zines dedicated to the topic; and numerous conferences are held, some local, some national, some international, which address cultural issues in terms of the categories and so-called world-and-life-view of Christianity. Now, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater: sure, we need to understand the language and idioms of our culture to the extent that we need to communicate the gospel in such a context in a meaningful, comprehensible way; but I do believe that fascination with culture is now way out of hand in Christian circles and has come to eclipse more important, more central things. Indeed, even as I say that it is important to understand context to communicate the gospel effectively, I am conscious that this seemingly obvious statement needs to be tempered by the fact that some of the greatest preaching ever known was designed precisely not to communicate to the contemporary culture. Just check Isaiah’s commission in Is. 6, and the use of that text in Jesus’ ministry to see how not communicating in comprehensible categories as determined by the immediate culture is a critical sign of judgment on an idolatrous people.

I don’t think that Carl is saying anything substantively different than I did in this post yesterday.

Nor do I think that Carl is saying anything substantively different than Mark Driscoll is saying in this video:

or in this message.

I believe that we have to know enough about the culture we live in so that we can engage it with truth, but that we have to engage it with the truth of the gospel. That is what Mark Driscoll is saying as well. I think that Carl’s caveat that I bolded in the introductory paragraph above is saying the same thing.

What do you think? how far should the church go to engage the culture?


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