There is reason to think that God’s intention is for humans to pursue life as humans which entails, not being separate from God but perhaps not only attending worship services. When He put man in the garden He told them to be fruitful and multiply, to take dominion.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground (Genesis 1: 27-28, NIV).” 1
In the midst of that existence there were walks and times of fellowship with God:
There was purpose in the garden: ruling “over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground Genesis 1:26),” working the ground (Genesis 2:6), naming the animals (Genesis 1:19-20).
Had there been no fall, there would have been procreation and a burgeoning population and culture would have arisen. But these are hypothetical exercises. The fact remains, God of course foreknew all that would happen and therefore the rise of cultures as we know them were anticipated from the beginning. In fact, we could suggest that the family is the first culture and God’s expectations of right behavior and purpose within the family is extended and expanded as families emerge and interact. All of humankind extends from Adam and Eve and is therefore one large, infinitely diverse family.
So, envisioning culture as an outflow, a natural result of the fulfillment of our obedience to those original commands is appropriate so long as such efforts are viewed as flowing from God and done for His glory rather than for the good of man or the accomplishments of his goals. The Tower of Babel represents a pursuit of the glory of man rather than the glory of God.
I think it is difficult to grasp this idea of a Christian culture because we can’t imagine the entire world being saved. But when we imagine a community being saved, we catch a glimpse of what the purpose of such a community might be and how that community might function. Or, we can imagine the model we understand best: a Christendom model that sees the culture as not hostile (Christ above culture).
1 All Scriptures NIV.
2 Although our only example of this in the garden comes after the fall, there is no reason to think that God’s venture into the garden to find Adam and Eve was a new development in their routine or in God’s behavior.
By Scott Fowler
Vast swaths of the moral fabric of the Church and the culture are being ripped away on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it is typical for evangelicals to be twenty years or more behind the times when it comes to being aware of paradigmatic changes taking place in the Church and the culture at large. The Christ and Culture Update class and blog is designed to help educate the Church in the area of Christian ethics known as Christ and culture.
Christ and Culture: Definitional
The class serves as a format to educate the believing Church concerning its need to be aware of the issues that arise where Christ and culture intersect. An important “primer” on the subject is Niebuhr‘s classic text, Christ and Culture. Niebuhr suggests five ways in which the Church has assayed to address the “problem of human culture,” which can be seen as postures the Church has taken in reference to secular culture. They are Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ transforming culture. The discussion of these approaches or postures serves to get the conversation started but by no means suggests that these five represent an exhaustive list. Many since Niebuhr’s time have undertaken this area of thought, which is really Christian ethics, but in reality, Niebuhr himself points out, the problem of human culture and what the Church is to do about it is one that has endured since the Church began.
One of the principles constantly being haggled over at precise places where the Church and the culture intersect is tolerance. What current cultures refers to as tolerance and intolerance is vastly different from what the Church understands those concepts to be. For the believing Church, the heart of tolerance involves a commitment to truth. Daily new examples of the culture’s “intolerance of tolerance” come to light. So, this section of the class’s curricula is reserved for the discussion and defining of tolerance.
The Heresy Pantheon
The true and believing Church is being assaulted in unprecedented ways by those whom we thought were part of us but who are now calling the Church into heresy. These individuals show no hesitation or remorse when it comes to pushing their agendas. What they do, they do publicly. The heresy pantheon is a catalogue of the names and doctrines of those who demonstrate this modus operandi.
Of course, the best way to get a handle on what is actually happening in the areas where Christ and culture intersect is to observe in real-time actual current events. The four particular “intersections” of Christ and culture where much is hanging in the balance today are evolution, homosexuality, abortion, and atheism.