Friday, July 31, 2009

A best compliment

One of the best compliments I have ever gotten came from my dad. I can' t remember what the topic of discussion was but he said, "You know, your house doesn't look like the rest of the world." I wanted to climb to the rooftop and say, "Hallelujah!!!" but rather said, "Good!! And if it ever starts to will you please let me know!"
I was thinking about this because of our recent discussions about living in an increasingly non-christian culture and how our lives should look accordingly. I think one of the hardest things to figure out and one that requires ongoing evaluation is what to embrace in our culture and what to reject. This isn't one of those areas that are completely black and white and look the same for each and every family so it makes it difficult. I read a great line on a blog the other day regarding how to make decisions: Why should I do this? rather than Why can't I do this?. In other words, instead of trying to rationalize those things we want to do or trying to make sure that there is nothing biblical that mandates we can't, we should think through whether we should do those things. Why would we want to do so? What good can come from it? What harm could come from it? Is it glorifying to God or idolatry? Is it celebrating God's good gifts or mocking them? Is it going to draw me closer to God or the world?
This is a good framework for my family to adopt. Too often, we don't even think most actions or decisions require much thought. We just go with the flow and figure that if everyone else is doing it why can't we. Not only am I going to adopt this for myself but for my kids as well. When they ask"Why can't I?", I am going to ask that they articulate why they should.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Answer to Rachel's question, part 2

Now to answer the original question, "Do we live in a post-Christian culture?", by answering with a qualified 'Yes'. If we look at the overall picture of the world, then the trend does seem to be away from a Christian worldview. Of course, some places cannot properly be said to be post-Christian because they were never heavily influenced by Christianity in the first place.

The reason for the qualified answer is that when you look at the geographic pieces that make up the whole, one's experience of this transition may fall somewhere along a spectrum. In Western Europe, most of the culture is well into this transition from Christian to post-Christian. In America, where you live probably determines your sense of this transition. In the Northeast and Northwest, particularly urban settings, this idea of being post-Christian is much easier to see. In the South, post-Christian may not be on many people's intellectual or spiritual radar. Christian ideas still have a high level of influence in this part of our country. So, overall I think we are all heading in the direction of a post-Christian culture; it's just that some are further down the line than others. Again, not a reason to despair but to pray for God's Spirit to move in reformation and revival.

Answer to Rachel's question, part 1

A week or so ago, Rachel posed this question, "Do we live in a post-Christian culture?" and asked me to respond. Before I can answer that, I think I need to answer the question, "What do you mean by 'post-Christian'"?

To say that we live in a Christian culture is not to say that everyone is a Christian. However, for a long period of time, matters such as morality, ethics, virtue, were heavily influenced, if not dominated, in the public square by biblical, Christian values. Thus, even non-Christians knew that societal norms had some level of Christian basis and that in order to "fit in" to society one had to conduct themselves, at least in public, by those norms.

What we are seeing now is a move to post-Christian. Those same biblical, Christian values no longer have the same level of influence. As that influence has waned, people outside the Christian faith have felt less and less of a need to conduct themselves by the old norms. And, sadly, many of those who profess faith in Christ are more and more influenced by worldly ideas than they are by a biblical worldview. Thus, the church in many ways bears little distinction from the prevailing culture. Thus, post-Christian culture is one in which Christian values and ideas no longer hold sway over a significant portion of the culture. That may seem scary to some but it also may be a prelude to needed reformation and revival among God's people.

Look for part 2 later today.