How do we engage wisely with culture?


(SeanO) #1

A large part of apologetics is the way that we, the Church as a community, engage with the culture. I have included some thoughts and a message from Tim Keller that I think can help us wrestle with this question. If I were to summarize his message, I would say it is ‘Do not abandon, attack or assimilate with culture. Instead, be Christ’s presence within the culture.’

What are your thoughts on Keller’s message? How do you think the Church has engaged culture poorly? How has it done so well? What do you think the implications of how we engage culture are for apologetics? The Lord bless our conversation.

Keller lists these wrong ways:

  • defensive against (triumphalism - take back the culture)
  • purity from (stay away from / isolate from culture)
  • relevant to (need to be hip and in style)

And says the right way is:

  • faithful presence within culture

What is culture? How do we define it?
(Jean Daniel Slabbert) #2

Hi @SeanO ,

Unfortunately, I was not able to watch Keller’s full sermon yet. I intend to though.

But I couldn’t agree more with his views as you have summarised them. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul writes that we are Christ’s ambassadors. This implies, by definition, that I am from a different culture. I like to INTENTIONALLY engage with strangers. And there’s a reason for the emphasis on the word “intentionally”. It is during this intentional interaction that we can engage meaningfully and share our culture within the ‘foreign land’ and different culture.

Paul continues to say that we are ‘Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making His appeal through us’. It is in lovingly holding to our culture and beliefs during interactinos that God appeals to those who do not know Him yet. How we deal with this responsibility often determines whether these individuals get to know God or not… It’s when we ‘abandon, attack and assimilate with culture’, that we push people further away from Christ’s love and His invitation.

Sadly, we seem to see the church do this more often these days…:cry:

May we as members of the church know who we are, what we believe and how to engage with individuals with other worldviews and cultures, i.e. may we all effectively become Apologists. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. :pray:


(SeanO) #3

@Jean Amen! Yes, may the Lord Jesus grant us grace and wisdom to lead others to the life, joy, peace and inheritance incorruptible that we have in Christ!


(Tara clay) #4

I really liked the clarity of his message. I liked the 4 points greatly. I have been a participant of all 3 of which he stated were the wrong ways to engage and now I’m working toward number 4.

I have gone from shoving my views so offensively in peoples faces with the “I am right and you are wrong stance” to the sheltering myself for fear that I would just morph because I wasn’t strong enough. I have, also, been involved in church cultures of both.

  1. Defensive against: my opinion on this is that we build a wall for people when we take this approach. We strengthen their defense against us because of our behavior. They only feel further validated and it pushes them to fight back harder to win.

  2. Purity from: my opinion on this is that we loose sight of reality. We do not see people for who they are but as aliens. We fail to be able to see the hurt causing their choices. Their fears guiding them. We pull away out of fear of the world. We fail to remember that “Jesus overcame the world”. The other approach is that we feel like we are better than everyone and judge our own sins as “not as bad” as everyone else’s. Which, I believe, has led to the condoning of “lesser” sins in the church such as gossiping and judging.

  3. Relevant to: To me, this is where we focus so much on pleasing and reaching peoples wants that we go so far as to forget or taint the gospel so that it seems more inviting. We leave out parts that we are scared to share. We do not get to peoples needs and emptiness because we are too focused on the pleasing aspect.

  4. Faithful presence in the culture: I feel that this presence fills people with hope of something more and if we take the number 2 approach they feel that they can never live up to it.

For me, I believe how we engage our culture has lasting affects from generation to generation. I believe that some of the things that we are seeing are due to the affect of people like me and our approach to the sharing the gospel in negative ways.

These are, of course, just my thoughts and opinions.


(SeanO) #5

@Tarieberry Thank you for fleshing out each of those categories using your life experience. I think that is very valuable and we would all do well to reflect on how we have and are wrongly engaging with culture so that we can shine more brightly for Christ in the future. May the Lord grant you strength and insight as you share His love and truth with those around you.