Christ and Culture (Part 1)

Written by Aleck Cartwright

Christ and Culture Part 1

The conflict between Christ and culture is not new and neither is it rare. It is a daily occurrence asrepparttar boundaries are blurred andrepparttar 126994 culture develops. Christians have been viewed more often than not as subversive because of a belief that they are destined for more than just a human destiny. Many times they have paid a high price for it and continue to do so, fromrepparttar 126995 early Christian martyrs of Rome to those who refuse to bend their beliefs torepparttar 126996 desires of a communist state. In many nations ofrepparttar 126997 modern worldrepparttar 126998 underground church is still being persecuted.

Such cases are disturbing but expected. In many nations there are overt and covert attempts to silence religion, that is out of favour, from being expressed in public institutions. Religious views are being marginalised and reduced to impotent fairy tales better suited to children's bedrooms before a good night kiss, or perhaps some trivial, private and quiet hobby like stamp collecting. Religion is seen as an activity not befitting an intelligent public-spirited adult. Religion is seen as a past-time not a lifestyle. The issue is very much current as well as historical. To tackle question of Christ and culture we should clearly define Christ and culture.

Christ asrepparttar 126999 Son of God points us away fromrepparttar 127000 many values man tends to prioritise and torepparttar 127001 one God who is truly good. Yet atrepparttar 127002 same time, Jesus is a mediator between God and man, in Jesus we see God's love for man as well as man's love for God. Christ in us is a joining ofrepparttar 127003 two. This duality in Christ leads us to a corresponding duality of expression of Christ in us.

Our faith has both a vertical dimension (directed to Godrepparttar 127004 Father through Christ in us) and a horizontal dimension (directed through Christ in us to our neighbour). Any adequate address of Christ and culture needs to emphasise both that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, above and beyondrepparttar 127005 world and haterepparttar 127006 world, in that we find no cause for identity in it, and atrepparttar 127007 same time God in fact gave His life forrepparttar 127008 world as a result of His love for mankind, and enjoins us to dorepparttar 127009 same.

We haterepparttar 127010 sin but loverepparttar 127011 sinner. Culture comprises of language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organisation, inherited artefacts, technical processes, and values.

So what happens when Christ and culture collide? How are we to deal with Christ and culture in daily life. Here are a few ideas of how Christians have often dealt with this issue.

1. Christ is against culture The most radical answer is that Christ is against culture. God isrepparttar 127012 sole authority forrepparttar 127013 Christian, presenting Christ and culture as an either/or choice. If we follow Christ we must reject any loyalty to culture.

Do not loverepparttar 127014 world or anything inrepparttar 127015 world. If anyone lovesrepparttar 127016 world,repparttar 127017 love ofrepparttar 127018 Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).

Some would argue thatrepparttar 127019 prince of this world is Satan therefore to choose culture is to choose loyalty torepparttar 127020 devil.

All state obligations are againstrepparttar 127021 conscience of a Christian -repparttar 127022 oath of allegiance, taxes, law proceedings and military service. Christians in this view are encouraged to separate themselves fromrepparttar 127023 culture, either individually as Tolstoy did, or corporately asrepparttar 127024 Mennonites have done, as a monastic community.

The integrity of those adhering to this option is shown firstly, in their willingness to suffer martyrdom in some cases under evil governments, and secondly, inrepparttar 127025 social reforms they provoke.

The problem with this option is that it is impossible to separate oneself from culture as it permeates our thinking and language, in fact it is as much around us as it is in our heads. Though it may be possible to keep some evil aspects of culture out of our communities by separatism, we cannot rid ourselves of our own predisposition to sin.

Ifrepparttar 127026 Amish live apart from state institutions or from mainstream technology and consumerism, all they succeed in doing is creating sub-cultures that while they may be counterculture, never attain to acultural status. The fact that a monastic lifestyle often required many rules and forms of discipline is proof enough ofrepparttar 127027 inherent tendency of man to fall into old patterns of sin. Because of this, separatist groups tend to adhere to grades of holiness that can only be maintained through works. Claiming thatrepparttar 127028 monastic life lead to greater holiness is why Luther said that it was not only unnecessary but, if it was chosen for this reason, it would become an institution ofrepparttar 127029 devil!

Separatism also only emphasises Christ's role in drawing us away from culture (the vertical dimension) but ignores God's role in our continued relationship with culture (the horizontal dimension). If Tolstoy was right, a Christian should pay no taxes, something that Jesus Christ said we should do. Jesus also tells us to love our neighbours, who are forrepparttar 127030 most, part found in mainstream culture where practical works of love have to be culturally relevant torepparttar 127031 people who need God's love to understand it as such.

Christ even seems to reject separatism inrepparttar 127032 parable ofrepparttar 127033 Good Samaritan. The Samaritan crossed cultural norms to help whereasrepparttar 127034 priest and Levite forrepparttar 127035 sake of holiness kept themselves apart from him. The Samaritan is held up as our moral guide inrepparttar 127036 story.

The Openness of God - Predestination, or Free Will? (Part 1)

Written by Aleck Cartwright

The Openness of God

A different perception of God has arisen in Evangelical Christianity that while not being new, has challengedrepparttar way we have always thought about God's nature. This paradigm shift is seen by it's authors to bring us closer torepparttar 126993 biblical conception of God. The book is called The Openness Of God and is seen to be very controversial in it's perception of God and will have sweeping effects on every other area of evangelical thought and life.

The God shown in this book is notrepparttar 126994 immutable monarch controlling human history and man's individual lives but rather a loving and suffering Father who has chosen to allow man's actions to affect Him in very real ways. At face value what they propose looks like Libertarian process theology with a twist of arminianism. But it seems it is actually much more. These authors introduce us to a God who is with us in time through self-limitation and does not knowrepparttar 126995 future in absolute detail. This new view of God is called "the open view of God," "creative-love theism," or "free-will theism." It is extreme Arminianism, but stops short of full-on process theology.

Some definitions may be helpful at this point, there are two main theological beliefs currently accepted byrepparttar 126996 mainstream church, Armenianism and Calvinism. Arminianism isrepparttar 126997 belief that God has given manrepparttar 126998 choice to accept or reject Him. Predestination is conditioned by God's foreknowledge of who would respond torepparttar 126999 gospel. It is also possible for a believer to fall from grace. Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God.

Calvinism states that fallen man is totally unnable to save himself, and that God's electing purpose was not conitioned by anything in man. That Christ's atoning death was sufficient to save all men, but efficient only forrepparttar 127000 elect. That God's grace is irresistable torepparttar 127001 elect of God and that they being regenerated and redeemed will persevere inrepparttar 127002 faith.

Less commonly accepted, is Process Theology which is more philosophically than biblically or confessionally based. Process Theology isrepparttar 127003 belief that God is evolving withrepparttar 127004 universe and does not knowrepparttar 127005 future but is learning along with his creation, He is confined to time and thus knows possibilities and probabilities but He doesn't know actualities.

The Openness of God is not a new concept. Inrepparttar 127006 sixteenth and seventeenth centuriesrepparttar 127007 Socinians maderepparttar 127008 same argument. "God does not know, in such a way that whatsoever he knows will surely come to pass." So in regard to human choices, God knows future possibilities but not future certainties.

Both Calvanists and Arminians, along withrepparttar 127009 most part of christendom affirmed God's foreknowledge of human choices.

John Calvin wrote,"[God] foresees future events only by reason ofrepparttar 127010 fact that he decreed that they take place." Jacob Arminius wrote,"[God] has known from eternity which persons should believe...and which should persevere through subsequent grace."

Christian orthodoxy has never denied God's foreknowledge of human choices. Both Arminianists and Calvinists (repparttar 127011 whole church) do not agree with Open theology.

I believe that a defective doctrine of God would affect all areas of Christian life and leadership as well as discipleship to bring about an eroding ofrepparttar 127012 glory due to God. Your theology will directly influence your leadership style andrepparttar 127013 outworking of your salvation. After all your conceptualisation of God's nature is what is imitated and lived out in daily life.

Openness theology is not necessarily an extension of Arminianism and neither is itrepparttar 127014 opposite of Calvinism, nor even a response torepparttar 127015 calvinist tradition. Instead it appears to be another tangent inrepparttar 127016 quest to reconcile divine providence and human freedom with a little input from Process theology.The followers of this particular view are I believe genuinely concerned with preachingrepparttar 127017 word of God andrepparttar 127018 work of discipling others in Christ. Nevertheless, it does seem clear that openness theologians lack adequate scriptural grounding and are outside ofrepparttar 127019 theological mainstream with regard to God's omniscience and providence. Biblically,repparttar 127020 future appears to be less open than they propose.

Openness Theologians say that history isrepparttar 127021 combined result of what God and His creatures decide to do. God is always walking beside us, and experiencing intimately all that we go through. God is omnipotent inrepparttar 127022 sense that He isrepparttar 127023 creator of all and could control his creatures if He so wished but He chooses not to control by coercion or force, instead His role is influential and persuasive.

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