Because our definition of “Christian” is intentionally broad, so will the many different views of the Scriptures these Christians will hold. Regardless of one’s view of the Scriptures, however, a Christian of any type cannot escape the Scriptures.
Although some claim they do not give any authority to the Sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament they still will use it in their identity as Christians- although, perhaps, they will weigh some sections as more important than others. At the same time some with a higher view of the Bible might claim that they believe every word in it, but sometimes, after further discussion, they might also have their favorite passages and overlook some sections that make them feel uncomfortable.
In this study of how Christians engage the culture around them we will be turning to the Scriptures for a large part of our discussion. This is because almost every position regarding Christ and culture will quote the Bible in their defense. As students of the various positions, however, we will try to consider the entirety of the Scriptures in our discussion.
I mention this because as we work our way through the various ways Christians interact with their culture, we will invoke the Bible where it (at least at first glance) appears to support that position. If the Bible’s defense of any particular position offends you, don’t worry- the Bible probably has more to say elsewhere on the same topic. At the same time, don’t be so quick to dismiss any position just because it makes you feel uncomfortable- or because of what the Bible seems to say about the issue. Let the Bible challenge your preconceived notions about how you, as a Christian, should interact with the world around you.
There are no easy answers to how Christians should interact with the world. The Bible, in my opinion, admits this ambiguity. This is not to say that there is no right or wrong way to approach culture, but merely to point out that there is much more to every debate that we could possibly consider. In the least the Bible, with its cultural depth and diversity, can give us some perspective as we investigate these difficult issues. At the most, the Scriptures can give us direction in this cultural maze.
Still, it is helpful to consider whatever passages a position might quote to defend themselves. If you took any of these passages out of context and alone, you would probably conclude that the particular view of Christ and Culture was correct. Here are some possible passages each position might invoke to defend their unique approach to culture:
- Christ Against Culture (Opposition) James 4:4; 1Peter 2:11-12; 2Peter 1:4; 1John 2:15-17
- Christ and Culture in Paradox (Polarity) Philemon; 2Corinthians 10:2-5; 1Corinthians 7
- Christ Transforming Culture (Conversionist) John 3:16-17
- Christ Above Culture (Synthesist) Romans 13; Luke 12:13-34
- Christ of Culture (Agreement) 1Corinthians 9:19-23; Matthew 22:15-22