Thursday, December 29, 2011

Faith and Modern Culture

People often call for the church to "get with the times". How else can it perpetuate the faith? Hardly anyone buys the old stuff anymore. But when we attempt to repackage the "old stuff" by mass producing some generic equivalent of what we do & believe, is it faith we're actually perpetuating? Folks say the language is archaic, so we need a new translation of the Bible or some new media tactic- maybe music or video- to get the Word out, to make it appealing to our culture today. Some say the music is lame. How about some Latin Rap or the Gloria mixed up "House" style? That would really pack 'em in & Mass might actually be fun! Take out the pews & let the people dance to show their thanks to the Lord! I don't know of anyone who has done that, but what if someone did? Wouldn't that be the same as conforming to the world? I've often heard the argument that God gives some of us gifts for music & media, so we ought to use them for the glory of God by meeting the culture where it's at. We have to be relevant or no one will take us seriously. Its as if we think we're in competition with the forces of evil & we have to try & stay ahead of the game. Or do we? Who is our God, anyway? Again, I ask, what is it we're perpetuating through modern media tactics? Is it truth? Or are we actually allowing the world to dictate our next move? If, for some reason, our efforts actually accomplish something, can we be sure the recipients connected for the reasons we intended? Will they grow up strong & sure in their faith? Or will they only crave the generic junk food we've offered?

There is a reason why the church tends to stand in opposition to modern culture. I'm not a prude, but I believe there is wisdom in maintaining the integrity of tradition & scripture... Its kind of like responsible forestry. The forest will always be there because for every tree taken, another is planted in it's place. If we gave in to modern culture, we might cut a stand of trees to build a bar, a strip mall or a gym to accommodate people. If that went well, we might take some more trees, lay roads & build houses. Eventually, only a tiny grove of trees would remain, set aside as a park for all. This would be what's left for us & those we accommodated... Eventually, we might even forget where we come from altogether & unceremoniously settle in among the people. The church needs to be responsible with the gifts it has been given, but not at the risk of giving up it's heritage from the Lord. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. May we strive to be conformed to God rather than the Godless culture around us.


  1. But what about Paul? Didn't he say he had become all things to all men in hopes of saving some? I heard a radio show the other day where the pastor warned not to attend a church if the music was modern and people dressed casual. He felt that only the proper dress and organ/piano music was correct. But what I was dying to say was, don't you mean a tunic dress, sandles and a lyre?

  2. 1 Co. 9:22 “...I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”

    I knew this would come up! I'm definitely not of the mindset that church needs to be about dressing up & singing hymns to traditional organ music (heaven forbid)... But sometimes our services smack more of a marketplace or a mission field than an assembly of believers gathering to worship God with the reverence & awe He deserves. Why do we gather? To worship God or to advertise how cool our services are? What's wrong with wanting to provide a comfortable place for ourselves & others, without judgment? We know Jesus became all things to all men too... look at all the times he sat down to eat & drink with “sinners” & tax collectors. YET WHEN HE WENT TO THE TEMPLE, THINGS WERE DIFFERENT. Who can forget how pissed He got when He saw people in the courts selling animals for sacrifice (John 2:13-17)?
    I think “becoming all things to all men” definitely has it's place, but it would appear to me that this was more of an individual action rather than a corporate one. My opinion is that the concept wasn't meant to usurp the regular church “services” where believers gathered for a specific purpose (namely, worship, teaching & fellowship). I think we DO need to find ways to reach out & be relevant to this culture. And I also think we can incorporate the positive aspects of our culture into our services, but only to the end that it actually glorifies God. These days, it seems sketchy at best. Our identity as believers is easily blurred when we're not mindful of the things we approve in our assemblies!

  3. Not to beat the horse here, but something else came to mind today. In Acts 2, we're told the disciples were in one place praying. It was Pentecost & there were many people in the city at the time. They overheard the disciples speaking about “the mighty acts of God” in various dialects & were astonished. Peter came out to explain what was going on & ended up preaching to the crowd that had gathered. 3,000 believed & were baptised that day. The disciples weren't really doing anything extraordinary- they were all just gathered together praying, doing what they knew to do. It was God who filled them with His Holy Spirit & the rest is history...