Separating Culture and Church

            We live in a culture that sees a benefit in the individual over the group—at least it has been true until recently.  We seem to be going through a cultural shift that wants us to give up our individual approach to life and live for the group.

            We are also a nation that seems to believe that the Age of Enlightenment was a Christian movement.  The Declaration of Independence, that great American founding document, reeks of Enlightenment, yet it is most often used as proof of our Christian founding. 

            Therein lays the problem I see us facing today.  No where does the Bible declare that we have a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The calling of the Christian is to “lay down your life and follow me.”  One down.  Early Christians found themselves in prison, often with a death sentence over them.  Two down.

            As to the pursuit of happiness, that has never been considered a Christian principle—at least not before we got to this modern me first Christian generation.

            Not willing to stop here, I must look deeper into this “Christian” document.  The declaration does talk about ideas such as endowed by our Creator, giving the illusion of a Christian foundation.  Unfortunately, it later clears up the misunderstanding by naming that Creator as “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God.”  This sounds a lot like something more mystical than the God of the Christian Church.

            While we are busy tipping over sacred cows, let’s look at the concept that America has a special place in God’s heart and is inherently good.  This, to me, is the core of what is wrong with the American church.  We are looking to convert the lost to an American understanding of everything, including God.  Yet, God exists outside of time and space.  He is not a citizen of any one country.  He did not design the world on a model of America—in fact, America is late to the game, both our language and our culture.

            It is always a mistake to take our culture and try to fit the Gospel into it.  Our job is to take the Gospel and fit our culture into it.  Anything that does not fit must be discarded as not part of the true Gospel.

            We are not God’s special children, except that all men and women are created in the image of God and that makes us all special.  We are not immune from the problems of the world system—the last year has shown that to be true.  We are in need of God’s grace and love, before and after our conversion to Christianity.

            The only way we will become what we were created and called to be is to move away from the American approach to life and begin to live a truly Jesus centered approach to life.  I am not claiming to be there, I am merely looking at what seems to be obvious to me.  We are not living in a way that Jesus would be approve when we are living for ourselves without a thought to the world around us.

            We are also not living like Jesus would have when we are more loyal to our country than to our God.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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