What direction are we going?

Andy at ThinkChristian asks “Is our culture on a downward moral slide?

One question this begs (see my most recent post) is what does one mean by “our”?  Do Christians include ourselves in the larger culture in which we live, or do we define this away and try to explain ourselves in terms of a “Christian culture?”

This question takes me back more than a decade, when I was still in coursework for the PhD at Baylor.  Once upon a time in a seminar, one of my fellow students went on at length about how the gospel of Jesus meant that he had more in common with a Christian in rural China than with a non-Christian who lived across the street from him.

In the words of Dave Barry, I’m not making this up!

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3 thoughts on “What direction are we going?

  1. Some theologies preach a metaphysical dualism. There is a material world and there is a spiritual world. The salvation Christianity teaches is OF the spiritual world and saves us FROM the material world. Other theologies see more unity between what we would call material and what we would call spiritual.

    Most theologies preach a social dualism. There is a secular (non-Christian) world of sociality and a Christian world of sociality. Some Christians say we are called to spurn the former and embrace the latter. Others say we are called to save the latter.

    I’m not yet convinced of the argument that Christians ought to have nothing to do with any forms of sociality other than church. Biological family? Jesus did away with that. Ethnic or national identity? Pure idolatry.

    When it comes to family, my reading of the NT is that Jesus doesn’t do away with family. Rather, he relativizes it. While one’s primary relationship is to Jesus, with this relationship becoming the pivot for all other relationships, those other relationships are not eliminated. Jesus is still able to condemn {can I say Jesus condemned something?) those who weasel out of responsibility toward honoring parents.

    Ethnic or national identification surely has a weaker case in the NT, though I still think relativizing is a better description than elimination. Jesus doesn’t only love “the world” (which we take to mean “everybody”). He also loves his own people Israel, and laments over their misguided ways. Paul loves his fellows Jews as well (Rom. 9), but is also willing to USE his Roman citizenship when it seems useful. From what I see, he never seems interested in pursuing the Roman agenda (what was the average Roman’s sense of “responsible citizenship?” I don’t know).

    Paul lived an itinerant lifestyle – like some other folks I know – though his tenure in each location seems shorter than ours. I don’t see him at any point saying of a place, “This is my home.” Though Jesus appears to have had a house in Capernaum, in the period of his life depicted in the Gospels, he seems even more “homeless” than Paul. What are we to make of their homelessness? Is that aspect of their lives to be part of our imitation, our following? If it is, then most Christians for most of the time since Christ have gone seriously wrong.

  2. i read a few pages of c.s.lewis’ mere christianity after
    having around for years. he was explaining a way to
    view morality as 4 cardinal virtues, which are shared
    by all civilized society, and 3 theological virtues.
    in dicussing temperence he cleared up for me immed
    iately that temperence is “going far enough without
    going too far. I saw myself as guilty in the area of
    eating. the church hasn’t been talking about that stuff.
    can we , the church, break out of that ? is lewis right?

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