Friday, December 16, 2005

We're like yogurt

We've got culture. All you have to do is listen to us talk. Where do we learn to talk like this? New converts after just a few months are very adapt at using our terminology. They have "asked Jesus into their hearts", were "raised in a Christian home," have "rededicated their life to the Lord," and, of course, have "accepted Jesus as their personal Savior." My point here is not that these phrases are bad in and of themselves. My point is that we all (generally speaking) talk the same way. We use the same phrases. Where do we learn this? Where do our people learn to end prayers "in Thy name", instead of something drastically more biblical (like, "in Jesus' name")?

We've got culture. And it's not Trinitarian. It's not Nicene. It's not even Biblical. It's American and it's fundamental, and (thanks to Christian radio) it's evangelical. We do not talk about Jesus as "Light of Light," he is "our personal Lord and Savior." The fact that we and our converts speak this way should instruct us in what we emphasize in our culture. And it should confirm to us that we have a culture.

Of course we have a culture. We by necessity have a culture. We like to think that we are above culture or that we are objective arbiters of what our culture is. Not so. This is akin to trying to pull the splinter out of our brother's eye while a Redwood is protruding from our own. We are unable to tinker with culture in this way. Culture is not a buffet where you take and leave what you will. Culture is rooted in us deeply; it comes to us veiled and we adopt it without even knowing it. How many times have you begun a prayer, "Dear Father, thank you for this day . . ." Where did you learn first to thank the Lord for the day (whatever that means) when you pray? Where did you learn that joy is supposed to be like winning a high school basketball game? Where did you get the idea that a songleader is supposed to be a cheerleader? Where did you get your idea of what David's dance in 2 Samuel 6:14 looked like? Our culture is much more homogenous than we like to believe.

We've got culture. And it's bad.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Keith said...

Well said. Or should I say, "Amen, preach it brother!"

12/16/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger lilrabbi said...

While I agree with your entire post, I've been wondering about how much one can actually change his own culture during his lifetime. It seems that simply spending time with people of different cultures does a lot to change us. Like the missionary who spends a lifetime with the tribe in Africa, and then returns to the States. His culture has changed, he doesn't fit in quite as well. Like the one who reads books from days gone by, if he really gets into them, he adapts their culture to certain degree.

Then I think about those Christians who are raised in a home that is spiritually bankrupt, and they see it, and it repulses them. I think this feeling of repulsion goes a long way in sanctifying them. They see sin more clearly at times, and despise it. It grows in them a love for the Light of all Light. Like Paul says: "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen."

We learn to give things their proper weight. We learn to love the right things and despise the bad things. There is hope.

There is still something to be said for having those proper assessments passed down from generation to generation. You have things ordered pretty well in your worldview from the start. I think that's the advantage they had in the middle ages. We're kinda clawing our way back to it.

Just some things I've been thinking about...take'em as that:)

12/17/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I do believe that a degree of change can happen. My main point is that is that American evangelical culture in very large part homogenous.

12/17/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Joel said...

speaking of culture, nice use of Rembrandt.

12/17/2005 02:21:00 PM  

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Immoderate: We're like yogurt

Friday, December 16, 2005

We're like yogurt

We've got culture. All you have to do is listen to us talk. Where do we learn to talk like this? New converts after just a few months are very adapt at using our terminology. They have "asked Jesus into their hearts", were "raised in a Christian home," have "rededicated their life to the Lord," and, of course, have "accepted Jesus as their personal Savior." My point here is not that these phrases are bad in and of themselves. My point is that we all (generally speaking) talk the same way. We use the same phrases. Where do we learn this? Where do our people learn to end prayers "in Thy name", instead of something drastically more biblical (like, "in Jesus' name")?

We've got culture. And it's not Trinitarian. It's not Nicene. It's not even Biblical. It's American and it's fundamental, and (thanks to Christian radio) it's evangelical. We do not talk about Jesus as "Light of Light," he is "our personal Lord and Savior." The fact that we and our converts speak this way should instruct us in what we emphasize in our culture. And it should confirm to us that we have a culture.

Of course we have a culture. We by necessity have a culture. We like to think that we are above culture or that we are objective arbiters of what our culture is. Not so. This is akin to trying to pull the splinter out of our brother's eye while a Redwood is protruding from our own. We are unable to tinker with culture in this way. Culture is not a buffet where you take and leave what you will. Culture is rooted in us deeply; it comes to us veiled and we adopt it without even knowing it. How many times have you begun a prayer, "Dear Father, thank you for this day . . ." Where did you learn first to thank the Lord for the day (whatever that means) when you pray? Where did you learn that joy is supposed to be like winning a high school basketball game? Where did you get the idea that a songleader is supposed to be a cheerleader? Where did you get your idea of what David's dance in 2 Samuel 6:14 looked like? Our culture is much more homogenous than we like to believe.

We've got culture. And it's bad.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Keith said...

Well said. Or should I say, "Amen, preach it brother!"

12/16/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger lilrabbi said...

While I agree with your entire post, I've been wondering about how much one can actually change his own culture during his lifetime. It seems that simply spending time with people of different cultures does a lot to change us. Like the missionary who spends a lifetime with the tribe in Africa, and then returns to the States. His culture has changed, he doesn't fit in quite as well. Like the one who reads books from days gone by, if he really gets into them, he adapts their culture to certain degree.

Then I think about those Christians who are raised in a home that is spiritually bankrupt, and they see it, and it repulses them. I think this feeling of repulsion goes a long way in sanctifying them. They see sin more clearly at times, and despise it. It grows in them a love for the Light of all Light. Like Paul says: "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen."

We learn to give things their proper weight. We learn to love the right things and despise the bad things. There is hope.

There is still something to be said for having those proper assessments passed down from generation to generation. You have things ordered pretty well in your worldview from the start. I think that's the advantage they had in the middle ages. We're kinda clawing our way back to it.

Just some things I've been thinking about...take'em as that:)

12/17/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I do believe that a degree of change can happen. My main point is that is that American evangelical culture in very large part homogenous.

12/17/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Joel said...

speaking of culture, nice use of Rembrandt.

12/17/2005 02:21:00 PM  

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