Does our culture need to change? – Creating Culture, Part 1

What is a uniquely Christian approach to bringing change our culture? 

It’s a big question.  Christians have many opinions about how to answer it.  Often very different opinions. 

Before we can attempt an answer to the question, I think we need to examine the question.  The question, “What is Christian approach to changing culture?” assumes some things. 

What culture am I talking about?  I’m talking specifically about the culture of the United States of America.  And I’m specifically suggesting that many, if not most, Christians would say that our American culture needs to be changed.  But does it?  Does our culture need to be changed? 

You might think that the answer is so obviously a loud YES to that question that you might be surprised I’m even asking it.  What is so obviously wrong with our culture that most Christians would say our culture needs to be changed? 

This brings us to the headlines of the past week. 

As of April 10, 2023, there were 147 Mass Shootings in 2023.  A mass shooting is defined as a shooting in which at least four people were killed or injured.  In that same time period, there were 14 mass murders.  A mass murder is defined as a shooting in which at least four people are killed. Think about this astounding reality: In just over three months, there have been 147 mass shootings and 14 mass murders in the USA. Worse, 2023 is not starting out radically different, as if this is a new situation in our culture. The stats from many recent years are awful.

In Tennessee, where one of those awful mass murder shootings happened last month in a school, three Democratic lawmakers began protesting gun laws, speaking boldly in opposition.  The Republican-majority Tennessee state house voted to remove two of the three from the state house.  Why only two of three?  Why not all three?  Some have suggested racism was at work.  The two removed were black.  The one not removed was white.  After the removals, there were two open seats in the house, and that necessitated action to fill those seats in the interim.  Maybe not surprisingly, the local districts that had originally elected the two men voted to appoint the men back to their seats.  But how did this happen in the first place?

Or take Florida where there has been a battle between the governor (a conservative) and Disney (seen as progressive) and its tax status.  Actually, Florida is an ideological battleground of sorts, as there has also been talk of banning books. But it’s not just Florida. Numerous local school boards across the country are hearing from some of their constituents that they should ban books or curriculum.  Any time you hear about book banning, you should be concerned. So why would Americans, living in a land of free speech, ask school boards to ban books?  Because they claim the books and curriculum are based in Critical Race Theory, better known by its acronym, CRT. 

(My sense is that most people who are fired up about CRT have never read a single article explaining CRT, let alone read a book about it. I decided I wasn’t going to be one of those, so I read Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, Third Edition, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, 2017. I would be interested in hearing what readers of this blog think about the book, and if you have anything objectionable in it. From my perspective as a Christian theologian who is trained in both biblical and theological studies from conservative, evangelical institutions, I found nothing objectionable in the book.)

Whether it is about abortion, sexual ethics, the entertainment industry, the Supreme Court, gun rights, social security, or a plethora of other concerns, who or what molds our thoughts and beliefs about these issues?

Especially in evangelical Christian circles there is much talk about how to address these issues.  Some dream of the country reverting to what they consider to be a more righteous time.  One of their primary methods to bring about that culture change is the use of political power.  From the national level Supreme Court justices to the local level School boards. 

Throughout history, though, when the church has mixed with politics, it has generally gone very poorly.  Political power can be used for good, and it should be molded toward the common good.  But a distinctly Christian response to creating culture has a much more nuanced answer than to control the political conversation and political power. 

Hear that one more time: a distinctly Christian response to creating culture has a much more nuanced answer than to control the political conversation and political power. 

What is that distinctly Christian response? In the next post we’ll begin to talk about it.

Photo by Josh Barwick on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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