Cross-cultural differences

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Matt Black, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I've noticed in my very short life on these boards that there seems to be a marked difference in approach to a variety of issues eg; the war, the French, women pastors, which version of the Bible is 'infallible' etc between those on my side of the Atlantic and those of you poor souls ( [​IMG] ) on The Other Side, yet we are all Christians and most of us are Baptists. This has got me wondering: I've always tried to let my faith inform my outlook on life, politics, social issues, the environment etc, rather than the other way round, whilst at the same time in my infinite yet humble wisdom regarding much of the American Christian scene as having more to so with the American Way of Life/ American Dream than the Bible - I being totally uninfluenced by my culture but you being corrupted by yours of course ;) . But it seems pretty plain that we are all products of our culture.

    And it occurs to me that many discussions (eg. re: guns, the inevitable war, Bush, taxation, and so on) have been or can be derailed because there are people on one side of the Atlantic who consider it a reasonable topic of discussion, while there are those on the other side of the Atlantic who don't because it's either simply right or wrong, no question.

    It's a difficult thing for us (and by "us", I mean all of us, British, American, and otherwise) to realise, but there is, across the water, at least one other country where they speak a similar language, but where they do things differently - and because they do things differently, we are not to judge them.

    I struggle with this - I was brought up to believe that the death penalty is wrong, only a lunatic or a criminal owns a handgun etc. but it's dawning on me that many of these opinions (which may be right or may be wrong) are not so much because they're the Christian point of view - or even a Christian point of view - but because I'm British.

    Now. I'm willing to admit that this is the result of either a) British people being arrogant wusses or b) Americans being triggerhappy nutcases if anyoine could prove the point, but it occurs to me that neither is the case. The truth, no doubt, lies somewhere inbetween.

    Now this is no new thing. There was a time where the lending or borrowing of money with interest was simply, no question, wrong, and slavery was OK, or at least open to discussion. But that was then, and as we know, the past is another country.

    The question is, to what extent can we as Christians know the rights and wrongs of life-and-death issues when even our co-religionists in those nations which are at least supposed to be similar to us have different standards of right and wrong?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. TheOliveBranch

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    We start with the Bible as the source for our beliefs. This country was founded on Christian beliefs and standards. We believe in freedom and the right to bear arms. We speak out with the right to the freedom of speech. We have the right to our choice to worship and believe. Our churches hold the people and hearts of our beliefs. We can go where we want, when we want. We can choose a way to earn money and go as far with that if done in the right mind.

    But how we do these things is done with a right mind if we hold the Lord God up higher than our personal comforts. If we seek to please Him first, our lives will fall into place. America gives us that ability. We are a prowd nation, but not for self pride. It's a pride in our rights do be able to do so.

    What you may be seeing is coming from a media that has controled the worlds view over us. There is no country like us, nor has there ever been. We have a large Christian population, and we send out more missionaries into the whole world than any other country. But, how long this will be, I cannot say. It's because of the views you and many of our own hold, as you can see from this board, that will help cause this country to fall. It's weak christian values and the inability to see beyond self that will grab hold and bring us down.

    Praise God for the few that remain and wish to continue to hold onto a Godly and seperated life for the Lord. And praise God we still have a country to do this in.
     
  3. Matt Black

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    Doesn't what you've said just demonstrate what I'm saying though? You say, effectively, that the US is 'special' or 'specially Christian', whereas we don't particularly see it that way here; to us, America is a country just like any other, and should be treated on a level playing field. I could say equally that, whatever our current state, Britain was once a very Christian nation and therefore deserves some kind of special dispensation

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. TheOliveBranch

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    But Matt, that is my point. Why is your country no longer a Christian nation? It's because the people fell far away from Godly standards. Our country hasn't. We, as a Christian nation, can still stand prowd for our stands. It also doesn't help to have a media that doesn't see our Godly side, and lways pointing at our wrongs. But that also keeps us on our toes.

    We are a strong and powerful nation, but only because the Lord has given that priveledge to us.

    I also have to add that we have some very strong churches that I believe the Lord knows their hearts. These are what I believe keep our nation together. There are alot of unpatriotic bigots, and alot of non- christians in this country. They are on the far left and had gained some ground while the Clinton administration was in office. But since 9/11, and our current administration, we have made some turn arounds. I also believe that if we don't keep trying to please the Lord, we will fall. Then we will be like all the rest of the world.
     
  5. Bartimaeus

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    I fear the Olive Branch is looking through "rose colored glasses".
    Many times we think we see what we would like to see and the truth is far from us.
    Question: If America was a Christian Nation in the beginning are we still as "good" as we used to be?
    Writing from down in the Ozark Mountains.

    Thanks ----Bart
     
  6. Su Wei

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    hey! i'm across the Pacific! :eek:

    This may sadden some, but no one here (in Singapore) would think of America as a "Christian" nation. Unless maybe they've studied history or have gone to certain parts of the States. Much of the news and information that comes through doesn't carry the religious influences the President or the country has.

    INstead, what we get is Britney Spears, Michael Jacko, Eminem (sp?), X-files, Charmed, etc.etc.
    That colours our perception of America alot. THe American culture that the young people here idolize is not godly be any stretch of the imagination. :(

    Thanks to the themes of the pop music and movies and dramas, many of our youth don't believe in waiting till you're married anymore. (Of course, coupled with other factors like lack of parental guidance).


    Last year, our pastor showed us a tape on the War of Independance and only then did i learn what a real godly man Washington was. And what were the Christian issues that were behind the war and how God miraculously delivered that small and weakly armed group of people in America.

    It was such an eye-opener for me and i thought it was such a conspiracy to keep such important background facts from the story. Yes, i've heard stories of Washington chopping down the apple tree. But not the GOd of Washington. Same like Florence Nightingale. All her good works, but not her God.

    apologies if i've drifted from the topic... [​IMG]
     
  7. Su Wei

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    Agreed! God would have spared Sodom and Gommorah if there were only ten godly men. And so America is still strong because of godly men and women in the country.

    Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

    I'm sure the strong godly churches there in America are making a hedge around the nation.
     
  8. Ed Edwards

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    TheOliveBranch: We in America
    "can go where we want, when we want."

    This is not always true in America,
    but is just as true in nearly every English
    speaking place in the world.

    In the dust bowl (in Oklahoma)
    drepression era (the 1930s)
    it is said that Okies going to
    California were stopped at the bridge
    across the Colorado river at Needles
    by Los Angeles Police.
    If the Okie had $50 or more
    (a month's wages) they could go on.
    If not, and they stayed in California
    there were subject to
    a $50 fine for vagrancy (duh, they don't
    have $50 to pay).
    If not, they could go east and
    NOT go to California.

    Try being an American Indian and see
    what it is like OFF THE RESERVATION.
     
  9. Helen

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    Su Wei, you didn't drift from the topic at all.. [​IMG]

    There has never been, to put it bluntly, a Christian nation. The United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but that is a far cry from actually being a Christian nation. From the beginning the deists held sway.

    And we are even further from being a Christian nation now. In fact, we are so pagan, there are Christian churches in Africa sending missionaries to us now!

    But Matt, yes, there is a tremendous cultural coloring to most people's understanding of the Bible, or at least of Christianity. And that can raise a lot of hackles. It can also be dangerous. For example, when the Christian missionaries arrived in Taiwan a hundred or so years ago (I don't know the date), the brought with them the western concept of modesty. As a result, they insisted that if someone become Christian, they had to also cover their babies' nakedness. This meant diapers at the very least, which were not used then. Result? In that humid country, infant mortality skyrocketed due to fungal infections starting in the diaper area.

    Just an example, but one worth noting. I would not have known about this, but we flew to Taiwan almost 24 years ago for a darling baby girl who just got married last June!

    So where do we go for the standards by which to judge? The Bible. Capital punishment, which you brought up, Matt, is the first command given after the Flood. You will find it in Genesis 9:5-6. That is long before Abraham or Moses, so it is not something confined to the Jewish people, but a command given to the human race. There is also a reason behind it: "for in the image of God has God made man." In other words, murder is an affront to God Himself.

    However the individual instances where capital punishment is commanded after Exodus 20 were specifically for the theocracy of ancient Israel. So, biblically, the commanded punishment for first degree murder is execution. Some people call that two murders, but we either pay attention to God or not...

    As far as owning a gun goes, I never have and don't see myself as ever having one. On the other hand, I live in an area where mountain lions have mauled and killed the occasional jogger. Not far from here in a creek there is a resident wildcat who has been known to go after people's pet food and also pets. There are men with guns in most of the houses nearby, and I can understand that.

    America simply is not like England at all. Animal attacks on livestock are not rare. For much of our history men had to hunt for food for the family and guns were an absolute necessity unless one happened to be especially proficient with a bow and arrow!

    So guns are actually a part of our nation's history. That does not excuse some of the gun craziness that goes on now, but I think it does help explain some of the history behind it. Keep in mind also that there were a number of tribes of Indians who were not known for friendly relations with the European settlers, and the antagonisms were certainly returned. (Today the Indians still scalp, but now it is in their casinos, financially!)

    Guns used to be survival. Today the most legitimate reasons to own them are still for the ranchers who are needing to protect their animals. That's my opinion, as there are a lot of gun owners who would say that there are all kinds of other reasons, including self-defense. However from what I see in the news, household guns are generally responsible either for aggressive shootings or accidental shootings, but I suppose that's another argument someplace else. I hope that gives you a little background, though.

    Are the British arrogant? As a nation? I doubt it. There are arrogant British. There are arrogant Americans. I'm sure that's a trait that transcends national boundaries!

    But as we look at the Bible we see a few things where perhaps guns and arrogance can be judged:

    1. I have never found even one passage in the Bible instructing the individual to defend himself. Defending a nation is one thing, but defending one's self is never promoted. Interesting, eh?

    2. Since we are to consider others better than ourselves, there goes arrogance if one is truly following Christ.

    That sort of thing.... the better we know the Bible the better we can see the guidelines we have been given and we can adapt to them under the laws of the nation and culture within which we live.

    One last word: I have been privileged to travel somewhat in my 55 years. And there is something I have found in every place I have ever been, whether or not I know the language: Christians know each other. Spirit knows Spirit. The body knows itself, across all cultural and language barriers, the church of our Lord is quite alive and joyfully well.
     
  10. rlvaughn

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    Matt, thanks for the thought-provoking topic. I think we as Christians should strive to be aware that we often are shaped by our culture rather than our Christianity (and then try to reverse that).
     
  11. Christian41974

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    Matt, Nice to discuss(argue, debate, slander,) some issues with you again. ;) [​IMG] [​IMG] I am from the South of the US. So could I say we are all a little trigger happy down here. [​IMG] Actually not all Southerners are trigger happy. Many are for the death penalty but it seems as though more are getting against it. Our schools teach Americans so little any more. I heard that some students who were protesting did not even know the name of Iraq's dictator; they were just doing what their teacher told them, all war is bad, it is our fault, or something's wrong with our President.(what foolishness,but back to the death penalty) I am for the death penalty, I believe it is taught in the Bible and is the only possible just punishment for certain crimes. Our countries are very different ,but I think I understand what your saying that our country sometimes affects our decision more than our Bible. But I try to hold my beliefs on the Bible and not which way America is swaying for the time being.
    America is not a Christian nation, now. Christians are not in the majority. America is wicked. And all our greatness and wealth and strength must be attributed to the God of heaven Who has protected and blessed us so bountifully. But I do believe we were a Christian nation at one time though we are not now. At one time Christians were in the majority.
     
  12. Ed Edwards

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    Helen: "In fact, we are so pagan, there
    are Christian churches in Africa sending
    missionaries to us now!"

    When i was in common schools (1949-1961)
    at church we were always having missionaries
    to Africa speak. They asked us to
    surrender to preach to the natives of
    Africa. In the 1990s i heard at church more
    missionaries FROM Africa than missionaries
    TO Africa.

    Seems about 1975 the number of CHristians
    in Africa passed the number of
    Christians in North America.
    Percentage wise, there are still more
    Christians in North America than in Africa.

    Here are some numbers from 1996 (last year
    for which i have data):

    Africa: 361 million Christians out of 748 million.
    North America: 256 million Christians
    out of 295 million.
     
  13. TheOliveBranch

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    Ed, you are also comparing a country, the US (I know you said N America, but we are the statistics for this continent) to Africa, a continent.

    Secondly, American Missionaries should also include our nationals.

    Thirdly, How many of those African missionaries are supported by American missionary churches?

    This is a good read: Four Reasons why God Established the US

    We only need to look at other countries to see why America is the super power of the world. We have fallen from alot of the Godly principles of the Founding Fathers, but we don't need to be negative about our country. I am still able to proclaim the Gospel freely and hold my Bible high. It is a shame that the few isolated cases are publicised so well that many christians hide for fear of their beliefs. I for one will stand up for my God.

    The wrongs of some also should not dictate what this country is free to do. When was the last time you were prevented from going freely across this land? Try being an American Indian on that reservation. They are not only destroyed by the reservation, but they destroy themselves. The Gospel has been proclaimed to all American Indian Nations, yet they refuse to hear. They have made their own boat to sail in. Quit blaming us for the actions of the past, and quit making excuse for the choices of them today.
     
  14. Ed Edwards

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    I believe in the traditional Baptist principle
    of "the separation of church and state".
    Christianity is NOT USA-ity.

    BTW, I am a Christian
    and possess a certificate of service
    to the Government of the United States
    of America for THIRTY YEARS.

    I'm a Bible-thumping male Baptist Christian
    and I'm a flag-wrapping patriotic
    USonian -- but i know when one ends and
    the other starts.

    BTW, i'm not buying into the
    USofA is the chosen people of God
    replacing the Universal Church replacing
    the Nation of Israel. Well, at least
    until i get through arguing with the
    GWBush-is-antichrist crowd [​IMG]
    Alternately, if i find the idea in
    my Bible, i might change my mind.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. TheOliveBranch

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    I agree wholeheartedly with this statement [​IMG]

    Glad to see you stir ;) Keep it up, we need more American Christians like you [​IMG]
     
  16. Ed Edwards

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    Matt Black: "I've always tried to let
    my faith inform my outlook on life,
    politics, social issues, the environment etc,
    rather than the other way round,
    whilst at the same time in my infinite
    yet humble wisdom regarding much
    of the American Christian scene
    as having more to so with the American
    Way of Life/ American Dream than the Bible ... "

    Good idea: let your faith dictate your
    world view. I try to do that also.
    I'm sorry the USofA comes off pretencious.
    The USofA has been blessed greatly by
    God largely in the freedom
    we have to worship God. Not that there
    weren't a lot of Baptists fighting for
    Freedom at every opportunity they had.
    The American blessing from God: our freedom
    to worship, should NOT however, be flaunted
    at the rest of the world. I don't think
    we are best because we are blessed by God; but
    because we are blessed by God, we are best.
    The milage of others may vary.
     
  17. Bartimaeus

    Bartimaeus
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  18. Matt Black

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    Thanks, Edifier. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. I'm a Christian first and everything else, including British, second. Part of what I see the church's role, and my extension my role as a Christian, is to be a prophetic voice to the World,and, where necessary to be critical of one's government. To me, this is very much in accord with the OT prophetic tradition - I mean, you can hardly imagine Jeremiah saying "Well, he's our President/ Prime Minister/ King so that's OK and we must be loyal to him". That's kind of the stance I adopt, in contradistinction to the (IMO) dangerous stance that one or two people seem to be adopting here that ISTM amounts to a bizarre kind of replacement theology that sees the US as some kind of New Israel - God's Chosen Nation. I'm afraid I don't see it that way at all. To me, my first loyalty is and has to be to my Lord and Master Jesus Christ and to His people. It is this that really informs my attitude to Iraq; I am aware that there are not a few Iraqi Christians and aware that if I support this war, I will like as not be supporting their deaths. I cannot do this as a Christian - support the deaths fo my brothers and sisters - without an exceptionally good reason being shown. To go back to the old chestnut "What Would Jesus Do?", I really can't see him dropping bombs on people, can you?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     

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