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Tom
Tom
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Culture & Preaching #41699
Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:44 PM
Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,563
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Tom  Offline OP
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I have written something that is in a rough draft format at the moment. It is based on a few of my observations of Christianity and culture around them.
I am asking for some feed back, in order to be able to perhaps use this material for Christians I know to think through this issue for themselves. I have found that there are a lot of different voices out there today, that unfortunately are deceiving a lot of Christians.

I will prayerfully consider any feed back I get.
It might also be helpful, for some to do the exercise for themselves.
---------------------------------------------------

Culture- How should Christians live and preach with in our own cultures?

It goes with out saying every one of us lives with in our own cultures.
With that in mind, how should we live and preach in our culture today?

1.) Should we live and preach as many do starting with culture itself, rather than as the starting point Scripture itself?

2.) Should we live and preach based on our understanding of the texts of Scripture itself and ignore culture altogether?

3.) Should we live and preach based on our understanding of the texts of Scripture itself and as best as we are able without compromising Scripture live and preach to be understood by the culture around based on our love for them?

Culture is basically where every person gets their understanding of the world around them. Language, the arts, music, behavior etc… is included in the definition of culture. Families, the country we live in, have a huge influence on the lives and the beliefs everyone. This is why culture can only be defined in the context of the time someone is living in and where a given person lives.
Culture shock can happen when one person visits another culture. They are so ingrained with their own cultures, that when they experience another culture, often they don’t know how to make sense of it.

Through out the centuries Christians have wrestled with the problem of how they should live and preach with in the cultures around them.
Some advocate a life of solitude away from their culture, as to not be effected by that culture. Their ultimate goal is to live pure lives for God, but are afraid that the culture around them will be too much of a detriment for this to happen, so they separate from the culture around them.
This results in them not affecting the culture at all.

Others rightly understand that they live within their own cultures and since they want to bring others into the Kingdom of God, they use that culture’s methods to influence people to become Christians. However, in the end they end up compromising sometimes with out even knowing it, the very Scripture which they claim to believe.
An example of this is not calling something like sin, sin. Instead dumbing the word down and replacing them with words like “problems” and “sick”.
This can be for a number of reasons, such as not believing the Bible to be literal and so they interpret the Bible through the subjective culture around them.

Still others seek to put the Bible as the means to living and preaching to the culture around them. They do it in a manner that does not deny the fact that they live in a culture and that people are not affected by it. But by recognizing that the culture around them is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph.2:5), therefore where this is concerned they should not go outside of biblical culture (sometimes called Biblical World View).
As 1 Cor. 1:18 says: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which a saved it is the power of God.”
These Christians rub shoulders with the cultures around them every day, either in work, play, school, etc… and out of a love for God and a love for their fellow man, believe God is the ultimate source for reaching the lost. We do them no favors by dumbing down the Gospel to make it palatable to the lost. While by do so, might get results it can just as equally do so by giving that person a false impression of the Gospel and ultimately God Himself. It also is ultimately a denial that the preaching of the cross is the power of God.
These Christians try to live a life that does not say to others that they are better than them, yet just by their mere lifestyle and what they say will automatically get negative reactions, simply because unless God is working in the sinner’s heart it is foolishness to them.
Christians throughout the centuries have experienced persecution and even martyrdom for their faith; we shouldn’t expect anything different.
Unfortunately, all too often when we as Christians experience a negative reaction to their faith, they often take that as a sign that we are not doing something right. Which has resulted in some dumbing down their approach to how they preach the Gospel.
While it is true that we should make sure it is the preaching of the cross that is offensive and not us, we should not be manipulated into dumbing down in favor of what might work.

From numbers 1-3 that I have described above, which do you believe is most God honoring and why?

Being honest with yourself, which number best emphases the way you act in your culture? Explain.

Do you see Christian movements today that you believe miss the mark in what they believe about how we live and preach in our culture? Give examples.

What do the following words mean to you?

Emergent

Postmodernism

Seeker Sensitive

Do you think this is a subject that is even worth writing about? Explain your answer.

Write any other thoughts that come to mind when you think of this topic?

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:55 PM.
Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Tom] #41722
Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:39 PM
Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:39 PM
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John_C Offline

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Tom, your post is a lot to byte off.

In preaching, I think expositionally is the only way to go. Just preach through a book going passage by passage.

My previous Pastor has this acronym.

SMAP

What does it say?
What does it mean?
What are some applications?
How do practice it in our lives?


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: John_C] #41733
Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:56 PM
Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:56 PM
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Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline OP
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Tom  Offline OP
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John

I agree with you that expositional preaching is the best form of preaching. However, I was thinking more in line with evangelism.
In a way however, I think perhaps even in evangelism that might also be the best way to go. Scripture transcends culture.

Tom

Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Tom] #41734
Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:39 AM
Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:39 AM
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The Bronx, NY
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Dear Tom,

I think you are raising some valuable questions. I urge you to poke around the White Horse Inn site for recent broadcasts, because their theme for the year 2009 is almost identical to the questions you raise, the idea of being Christians in a post-Christian culture. Some of your thinking and presentation might be clarified a bit if you were to spend some time there, hearing the categories that the best reformed thinkers are using to grapple with these issues, as, for example, the "Two Kingdom Model".

If you have limited time, let me recommend the following broadcasts:

Christ in a Post-Christian Culture

Re-Thinking Christ and Culture

The City of God

The Case for Civility 1 (with Os Guinness)

The Case for Civility 2 (with Os Guinness)



In Christ,
Paul S
Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Tom] #41737
Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:52 PM
Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:52 PM
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South Africa
Johan Offline

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Hi Tom,

I agree with John that what you ask is a big bite. Also, I am certainly not qualified to say a lot about postmodernism etc. But let me give it a try.

When it comes to preaching and culture it would seem to me that we have perhaps all the examples we need in Scripture on which we can base what we are supposed to do. I agree that there might be a difference in preaching to the congregation and in evangelism, but even then there also must be some similarities because whether for the congregation of believers or in evangelism, Christ must be preached.

About the examples. John pointed to some discussions on the White Horse Inn and I think it is worth listening to it. One of these is titled "Christ in a post-Christian culture". But is a post-Christian culture not very similar to a pre-Christian culture? If this is the case, then the Apostle Paul did his ministry in a culture that is perhaps similar to what we have today in Western civilization. Whatever the case may be, the culture during the time of Paul was not Christian at all. So, we can rightly ask the question whether Paul did his preaching according to one of the three points you listed. I would say there is abundant evidence from Scripture that Paul only preached Christ. I simply cannot find any evidence that he tried to put a sugary cultural coating around his message to attract people.

Take for example Paul's ministry in Corinth (Acts 18). Verse 5: But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Clearly, Paul argued from the OT with the Jews. He did not water the Gospel down to win the Jews. The Jews did not accepted his message and then he turned to the Gentiles. Verse 11: And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Teaching the word of God - that is what he was doing among the Gentiles. In 1 Cor.2:1-5 Paul reminds the Corinthians: And when I came to you, brethern, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him as crucified. I was with you in in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. I think this speaks for itself. In fact, in my opinion it is much different from what we see of some preachers who wants to be "culturally relevant". Also take a look at 1 Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. Note: no cleverness of speech. It is like saying: "I did not add something to my message, whether in the content or in the way I presented it in order to make it more attractive to the hearers". And note his reason for not doing this: not to make the cross of Christ void.

I think we can also go back to the OT prophets and see how they proclaimed: Thus says the Lord of hosts irrespective of what the culture of the day was. Elijah did it in the face of being persecuted.

My conclusion is that when today God calls someone to preach the Gospel, the preaching must be done in the same way that Paul did it in Corinth. No fancy cultural coating or packaging to make it nice and acceptable for the people according to the culture of the day. God calls his elect through the plain simple pure preaching of the Gospel.

About ignoring the culture: I am not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean ignore it bluntly or do you mean that it should not influence the contents of the message? I don't think one can bluntly ignore the culture by refusing to know how people in that culture thinks or reason etc. It would be stupid to have that attitude. For example, Paul did not go around in Athens with closed eyes. He saw what gods they worshiped and started from there to preach the gospel. But I don't see that Paul made changes to his message to make it culturally acceptable.


Johan




Last edited by Johan; Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:37 PM. Reason: Correcting errors
Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Johan] #41786
Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:37 AM
Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:37 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,563
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Tom  Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,563
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
To make myself clear, I am not in favor at all with sugar coating the Gospel, to make it palatable.
In fact as Scripture says I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God...
I believe that by sugar coating the Gospel we are in essence, whether we know it or not denying that we believe that.
We are also trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit because we don't have the confidence that He will accomplish His will with out our help. I would say that the fear of man is one of the main causes for Christians to resort to sugar coating the Gospel.

Johan, from your last paragraph, I think we are in agreement. We shouldn't let culture influence the contents of the message.

Thank for the links, I am sure they will help me tweak what I want to say.

Tom

Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Tom] #41796
Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:24 PM
Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:24 PM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 326
South Africa
Johan Offline

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Originally Posted by Tom

I believe that by sugar coating the Gospel we are in essence, whether we know it or not denying that we believe that.


That's a good point I would say! Never thought of it in that way.

I still wanted to say a thing or two about postmodernism and emergent but time is not on my side. You can perhaps also look at Sam Storm's book review for further ideas.

Johan

Re: Culture & Preaching [Re: Tom] #41799
Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:21 PM
Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:21 PM
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Posts: 969
USA
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Peter Offline
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Tom one of the things I am learning much on with regards to the culture/Christianity is the doctrine of the two kingdoms. White Horse Inn on its last couple shows had much to say on that. So if I were you I'd do some study on that doctrine. I know myself that I am not as up on that as I should be so when I hear Mike Horton or Rod Rosenblat (SP) mention it I know that to fully understand what they are saying I need to do some reading.


Peter

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. Augustine of Hippo

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