Wednesday Wisdom: Culture

Ok so I saw Andy Crouch at Catalyst. He was very good, but I don’t think that he got enough time to really dive into the intricacies of what he was presenting. I will touch the base of what he said so we can hopefully start a little bit of dialog on this subject.

First he said that we as churches don’t really to do anything to really affect culture. Most of the time we do one or a few of these four things:

  • Condemn Culture
  • Criticize Culture
  • Copy Culture
  • Consume Culture

I would like to offer that I don’t think that any of these really offers considerable insight or change into the thing that Christ really wants us to dive into: the lives of people. Andy Crouch challenges that we should do one of two things:

  • Create Culture
  • Cultivate Culture

I would love to give you alot of insight on these but honestly I can’t. I haven’t read his book yet. However, I do think that its pretty awesome that he challenges the church to do this. We should celebrate creators of culture. Creative thinking comes from our Father. I believe that it is something that will be absent in Hell. But I think alot of people will be shocked at how much creative thought happens in heaven. Anyway, sidenote sorry.

I want to know what you think about these few statements.

If you think this is a cool idea here is the link to Andy himself.

Even if this isn’t your thing. I beg you to check out the site and read a couple of posts. I guarantee you it will spur your mind to thinking more about the subject.

Comments

  1. says

    Guess I have to answer your question, with more questions —
    Can man create anything “good”?
    Which existed first, man or culture?
    Did culture create man OR is culture a byproduct / symptom of sinful man?

  2. says

    Judy I would have to say that I think that man can create good. Just like man has the potential to create evil. Culture is most definitely a byproduct of man based on the fact that it is completely based on the decisions of men and women and differs by location.

    I do think that man can create good. I agree that man is sinful and completely separated from God but I would say that through God’s common grace, man can create good. Such as worship songs, written by artists from year to year. Or books that help other people get closer to Christ by virtue of illustration.

    But imo I would say that man is capable of creating things. Things that are good.

  3. says

    I would reference Gen 1:27 to start. The fact that men and women were made in the image of God. Its hard for me to articulate this in a concise manner, however I feel that God has given people the ability to do good. I don’t think that it is an accurate argument to say that men are not capable of good. God’s common grace allows for things such as love, compassion, patience, self-control. Things that are fruits of the Spirit and are acts of goodness.

    Love is something created by God. It is good. However, people that are not children of God and are separated from Him for eternity in their relationship status may still experience love in some way. Therefore to argue that there is no good except for the actions of those in a relationship of Christ can’t be accurately depicted.

    It was just an inadequate job of explaining myself. There is nothing “good” in man that merits us the ability to spend eternity with God. Because of our sin, we are separated from God for eternity. Only because of the intense love of Christ to come to earth and find us in the middle of our lostness is the reason that we need and have an eternal relationship with the Father. I don’t want that to be misunderstood. But we have the ability through God’s common grace to do acts of good. Such as creating a culture that consists of love and community and giving. Even more so because we are empowered by the Spirit of God.

    I hope I am not confusing you at all as far as why I believe that way. Man is sinful and cannot enter into a relationship with Christ without the total life and sacrifice of Christ.

    However, I do believe that we as people created by a loving God, and created in the image of that loving God to do loving things.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Keep them coming.

  4. Yvonne says

    I appreciate your explaination of common grace and human’s capacity to do ‘good’.

    May I ask two related questions?

    1. Is the ‘good’ that sinful man does for man’s glory or God’s glory?
    2. What Scripture reference do you find that would support Crouch’s premise that Christian’s are called to ‘create culture’? (FYI–I’m reading his book now.)

    Thank you for your time.

  5. says

    You didn’t confuse me (thanks for really trying) and I think I understand what you are saying. Guess, the next question is can good exist separate from God? If the answer is yes — then the arguement could be made that all the philanthropists in the word are “Godly” because of all the “good” they have done —

    However, man may be able to create “cultivate” goodness BUT it has nothing to do with Salvation. Which gets to my main concern with Crouch — Where does Scripture exhort us to create culture or redeem culture? Baptize, Disciple, and teach God’s commands — is clearly stated Mt. 28.

  6. says

    P.S. I have heard what Crouch says about the church — another statement of his opinion that I don’t see backed up with Scripture. Does the church really exist to serve us? Isn’t the purpose of church to worship?

  7. says

    Judy I will answer your question first. And I ask you both to give me a little slack. I’m just a twenty two year old kid without any kind of theological training except for what I have read in books and of course my knowledge of the Bible.

    I also haven’t read his book but mainly posted on the highlights of what he spoke about at Catalyst.

    So Judy first, good can exist except for God. God is good. God created good. After all He said after He finished creation that it was good. And man cultivating good has everything to do with salvation. Why do people not give credence to things that Christians say…because their isn’t an authentic example that is consistent across denominations. Jesus told us that we should love God with all that we have and we should love others as ourselves. Creating that good in my mind is to love other people. Jesus, Himself was creating a culture of love on earth as well as service. I have come to serve, those who are last shall be first, etc.

    All of the ways that we seek to create, ways to serve others and love them more does exactly what Matt. 28th calls us to do.

    And as for your second question, the church exists to carry out the purpose of God. We are the church. Worship is a part of that, a church service that “serves” us by teaching us more about the Word is also a part of that, as well as serving the community. We are the church. What should we be about? That is what the church should be about.

    Anyway, I am not trying to really spark an argument here for or against Crouch. But the idea that we shouldn’t copy others and instead create our own is an incredible ideal that the church isn’t known for.

    Quick name me someone in the “church” world that people not at all involved in “church” world know? Someone that transcends culture like our Savior Jesus Christ does?

    hard huh, and that is the problem. We should be the most innovative, creative people that are on earth like our maker is. He created a beautiful world in spite of the incredible fall of man and the circumstances that followed. That is why we should be creators of culture. Just like Noah built an ark and David built the temple, and Nehemiah rebuilt the walls (all of which seem ridiculous by any church members standards think about the attitudes towards “building projects”). Should our number one focus be to create, No i don’t think so our number one focus should be those commandments that Christ gave to us. But I also think that part of the way that we fulfill Matt. 28 is to be authentic lovers of people and the way that people are more committed, excited, and full of life is when the idea is their own. Not copied or altered but created by those people.

    God gives us the vision for those things and that is why what I think Crouch offered was an acceptable idea. One that we should really look at as the church.

  8. says

    Yvonne I think I summed up your answer in the last answer. If you are asking about man that is separated in his relationship with God then I would say that no it doesn’t, but if you ask about men that are in a relationship with God then yes what they create is for God’s glory. This is another reason why the church should be leading in creating culture.

    And I can’t give you a specific scripture that says create culture period. But when you look at the fact that Noah was called to make an ark and to try and save the world with it, and you look at the Israelites building a temple to worship corporately, and Nehemiah rebuilding the walls to protect the people. All created things. A giant boat, a tent, and some walls. Church people would be ticked if these things come up in the budget but in reality God used them to further His plan for mankind.

    The saying “we’re never more like Jesus than we give” isn’t in the Bible but its “church gold” But nevertheless you are reflecting some characteristics of Christ when you give, just like you reflect characteristics of Christ when you create your own things. Just like Christ created the wine out of water we should be creating music, art, ways to serve that aren’t copied or stolen but instead come out of our own creative spirit that God gives us.

    Overall we should reflect the character of God. If God is Jehovah Elohim-The Eternal Creator then we should reflect that character and create things and ways to love and serve people (also character reflections) in ways that haven’t been thought of yet.

    Anyway I am not a Crouch disciple. I am a disciple of Christ. I hope that we would be careful to do what 2 Tim. 2:23 says and also Titus 3:9. If what we are thinking about is a way to love God more or love people more, then we should find a way to do it.

  9. says

    JC — I will respond more thoroughly in a few hours or tomorrow when time allows — but what cannot wait is for you to know my heart. I am a mom of a child 21, 18, and 13. My husband have been apart of a ministry to college students and youth.

    When I see “new” books by authors spouting their “new way of reading a very old story” pg. 11 of Crouch’s book — it raises not only red flags but anger towards the author for deceiving passionate, Christ-centered, young adults like yourself. Just because it makes some sense to you and it has been proven by your experience does not make it of God. Scripture is FULL of warnings against false teachers and warnings to us not to trust our own perceptions. Everything must be taken to Scripture. The Holy Spirit will be our teacher but if you want to look to a theologin — choose someone who is proven. Again, Crouch sites his own feelings and convictions that God is in his theory — not Scripture. Red Flag

    If nothing else, from our discussions, I hope you proceed with caution (following Crouch ideas). It has been promised that God’s word is divisive, a stumbling block, a frustration, and offensive. It will be rejected. So creating a new angle (creating culture) that if humanity sees and receives love in the form of building a playground, reading to afterschool children, or helping native americans with their Olympic games (random, but in an interview with Crouch); Humanity still will not accept Christ. They will so appreciate those things but there is no distinction from Christ, Buddha, or a Hindu god for that person.

    Crouch’s ideology resontates because it makes us feel like we can do something. The world is broken and bleeding — and yes in many ways the church has shut its doors to these people and ignored the injustices in their back yard. Scripture doesn’t need to be tinkered with — man has to keep admitting that he is full of sin and that is why the church shuts its doors. Culture is a byproduct of man’s sin not the disease to be healed but a symptom of the disease.

    Does this make some sense to you? When you have an hour (i am sure you just laughed) please listen to this and give it a chance. http://www.reformationtheology.com/2008/10/regeneration_v_the_idolatry_of.php

  10. says

    I agree that scripture is the most important thing that should be in our lives. But I disagree that doing things to show love are not what we should be doing. Jesus, Himself spoke to a crowd of people knowing that not all of them would be saved. And I agree that Scripture doesn’t need to be tinkered with but I am suggesting that instead of copying what the world does to actually make a difference in people’s lives, that we come up with our own ways to give them the love that Christ has shown us.

    I again want to stress to you that I am not a Crouch disciple, I haven’t read his book, I haven’t read his interviews. I live my life by the scripture, but if we don’t ask questions about how we are loving people as the body of Christ then we aren’t actually applying the Scriptures that we hold so dear.

    I would really like to here your scripture reasoning as well as why this is a bad theology. That’s all. And I would love for you to focus on the post and not things like the book or interviews that probably don’t apply to the discussion. I am so sorry that it sounds like I am being arrogant or upset in some way. That is the problem with blogs, it doesn’t convey the emotions that actually speaking with someone does. But anyway, I would love to hear your response of scripture that refutes what my post is about. Thanks Judy for your comments and your love for students and your love for the scripture!

  11. says

    JC — Since your post specifically asks the reader to think about Crouch’s 2 statements, it is impossible to respond on the thoughts of someone without discerning the truthfulness or theology of the source. Truth cannot be gleaned from a source – keeping some morsels of truth and discarding the rest. A person is the sum of their parts and their theology or ideology flows from there.

    So, simply stated there is no Scripture where God emphasizes a “call” for Christians to cultivate or create culture. AND sometimes it is just as important what Scripture DOES NOT say.

    Citing Genesis 1:26-28 as a “cultural mandate” is a faulty foundation. Crouch decides that the Garden was “culture” not Scripture and then proceeds to emphasize those verses retrofitting the Bible fit into it.

    1. Genesis 1:26-28 is before the fall
    2. No mention of “culture” in the Greek or Hebrew language
    3. Culture did not exist before the fall.

    Yes, we are God’s image bearers – indicates the crowning of creation being mankind. BUT still between God and man there is an infinite distance. Christ is the express image of God’s person. Our soul is a mirror of God’s image – this is more about the government of man, himself. God’s image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Eph. 4:24

    This discussion is a challenge because you want to have a postmodern conversation and I want to have a discussion. In my mind, your question alone is erroneous because one must agree to Crouch’s basic premise that Christians “ are called “ to create culture. Since I don’t see Scripture supporting the basic premise – there is no point in the discussion of the posted questions until discerning the truthfulness of the presumption.

    Questions (and ideas) have consequences. It all began with a harmless question and conversation, didn’t it? Genesis 3:1. You are right – it is your blog and you make the rules.

  12. says

    Judy, this is going to be the last reply to your comments. Not for any other reason than I don’t want to get into an argument. It’s not a discussion and comparing me to the fall of mankind at the end for posing a question is demeaning to me. I am sorry for any hurt that I may have caused with posing a question. I pray that God would mold us together as the body of Christ to affect the world instead of drawing us apart from one another in such quarrels. I don’t want to sound like I am avoiding the questions Judy, I appreciate the voicing of your opinion and I would love for you to continue to come to my blog but I never want anything associated with me to be characteristics that don’t reflect Christ and I don’t want either of us to do that.

    I don’t want to promote a post modern agenda on this blog. I just simply want people to think about life and why they exist on this planet. While we have a universal purpose under the call of God we also have personal calls. Maybe after reading the material I would agree with your thoughts. Questions do have consequences and trying to find that answer will promote growth as long as you search for truth.

    Always fight for truth but remember we are called to love people. And I think that we are straying from those two calls.