How do we respond to the culture?

My previous post includes a talk by Billy Abraham in which he describes of four changes in Western culture that challenge the church:

  • Changes to the meaning of marriage, which he connects to deeper issues around the praise of sensuality.
  • The decline of Protestantism, which he connects to the failure to pass the faith down from generation to generation.
  • The rise of secularism and aggressive, evangelistic atheism.
  • The growing presence of Islam.

Abraham does not argue these are all arising from the same cause, but does argue that the church needs to have responses to these trends that help people in the pews understand who they are in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how they are to preserve that identity in a changing world.

I fully understand that some people will not agree that these four changes are the most important ways the culture is changing. But I do find myself trying to articulate a way that the church can respond to these changes that speaks to all the changes not just one. For instance, how does our response to Islam (and religious pluralism in general?) provide us the tools to respond to secularism and aggressive forms of atheism? Or does our response to Islam leave us less able to respond well to the challenge of growing secularism? How do we recoup from our failures to hand down the faith across generations (see Kenda Creasy Dean’s excellent book for more on this) in ways that give us tools that speak to the other changes in the culture as well?

It does seem as if we tend to respond to various trends and movements in the culture in an ad hoc way. We focus on one or the other presenting problem that the culture throws up for the church. What would a coherent and comprehensive response to the culture in which we are located look like?

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2 thoughts on “How do we respond to the culture?

  1. John,
    My first thought when looking at the four points was that we have passed the faith down from generation to generation and that is why we have failed. The next generation has been “given” the faith of the previous generation but not allowed to use it (how many youth are involved in the church today?) and when they have the chance, the next generation compare the words of the previous generation with their actions and find them lacking.

    I don’t think that we need to respond to the culture as make sure that the key points of the Gospel are met. When we respond to the culture, we are likely to be immersed in the culture and there we get lost in the mix. If we stay with the Gospel message and make sure that it is understandable and coherent, then we can respond to the changes that are around us.

    1. Agreed.
      Islam is the least of our problems.
      Why people turn to Islam and leave the Christian Church should be noted.
      The Christian Church and Christian Community have not prepared themselves for challenges to the faith.
      They don’t do their homework.
      The few really great apologists of Christianity do not get the publicity they should.
      When is the last time your church had a guest speaker in that could defend the historical positions the C.C. has held for generations.
      When is the last time you heard someone give a detailed explanation to the seekers and the young when they question these things?

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