The Church and the Culture

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, May 20, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

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    Edwin McManus writes concerning three different ways Christians interact with the secular world.

    1. Christians completely run away from the culture, separating as much as possible, in order to not be tainted by the world, and, thus, be as safe as possible.

    2. Christians completely envelop themselves in the world, making them feel as safe as possible.

    3. Christians use the culture of the gospel to influence the culture in a positive way. To do this, the Christian must know and understand that culture in order to most effectively influence them to learn and know Jesus Christ.

    McManus states (and I agree) that the third option is the one that we have been called as Christians to be. He cites Jesus who dined with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the demoniacs. He mentions Phillip who has a long and deep conversation with the Ethiopian eunuch. He also talks about Paul who could speak to the Jews in the temple using their language and understanding, and this shift to speaking to the Greeks in their temple and reason.

    McManus calls this living the barbatian Christian life - that is, a life that is not safe. He asks the poignant question, "Are you as a Christian willing to give up your life if it meant that one Islamic person would be saved?" He also asks, "Are you willing to get to know the most deviant of humanity if it were to mean that he or she would learn to love Jesus Christ?"

    This question was posted earlier, and enda commented that, personally, number one is correct. Christians should be completely separated.

    From my understanding, those who would agree with number one would be most likely to be anti- praise and worship music. Those who would agree with number three would understand clearly how GOd can use such music to glorift His name.
     
  2. Jude

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    Philosophy #1 seems to have been the philsophy of the early desert fathers/mothers, the Benedictines, and other monastic communities. #2 would appeal to 'hedonistic' Christians of any age. #3 would seem to be the philosophy of most of us, that we are 'in the world' but not 'of it'. #1 or #3 seem to be valid expressions of the Christian faith, depending of course, on the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Interesting article on Niebuhr's 'Christ and Culture'. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/116/53.0.html
     
  3. DanielFive

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    Scott,

    Please note number one does not adequately explain my position. Please don't misrepresent my views which you are well aware of. I simply have a different idea as to what 'being in the world but not of it means'. My view on seperation does not fall into any of your neat little categories.

    Enda
     
  4. ScottEmerson

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    Again, this is Edwin McManus. Please share with us your views on separation.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    Enda, are you writing under the pseudonym of Edwin McManus?

    No personal attack was evident, Enda. Do you believe in total separation from everything in the world? (i.e., if not a monastery, then Amish comes to mind).

    Deal with the subject at hand. I will leave this thread here (as it ties somewhat to music and came as a result of the "organ" thread), but it probably should be moved to general.
     
  6. ScottEmerson

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    Thanks for leaving it here (this is about the only place I go to now)! I think that this subject is very tied in to the music issue, since separation supplies much of the argument against CCM (although not all of it, I am aware!)`
     
  7. DanielFive

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    Bob,

    :confused:

    I never said Scott attacked me, I said he misrepresented me, thats all. His first post implies that I believe we should all be monks. That is not the case.

    I merely believe that we can live in the world and interact with the ungodly without being tainted or influenced by them in any way. Once we begin to copy them eg, in this case copying their style of music we blur the line between the Lords people and the world.

    This line has become so blurred today that it has all but disappeared, we now find Christians in Pubs drinking, at Pop Concerts etc.

    The fact is that when we become influenced by the ways of the world its the first step on a very slippery slope.

    I haven't got the time to elaborate on my views at this time, but I will be back at the weekend to have my say.

    God Bless

    Enda
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Look forward to hearing your position. Glad this is a new thread so it can be discussed without getting lost.
     
  9. DanielFive

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    Scott,

    I'm still very short on time due to exams, study etc. In the meantime here's a short quote from a Spurgeon devotional for your consideration.

    "And they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall."
    Nehemiah 3:8

    Cities well fortified have broad walls, and so had Jerusalem in her glory. The New Jerusalem must, in like manner, be surrounded and preserved by a broad wall of nonconformity to the world, and separation from its customs and spirit. The tendency of these days break down the holy barrier, and make the distinction between the church and the world merely nominal. Professors are no longer strict and Puritanical, questionable literature is read on all hands, frivolous pastimes are currently indulged, and a general laxity threatens to deprive the Lord's peculiar people of those sacred singularities which separate them from sinners. It will be an ill day for the church and the world when the proposed amalgamation shall be complete, and the sons of God and the daughters of men shall be as one: then shall another deluge of wrath be ushered in. Beloved reader, be it your aim in heart, in word, in dress, in action to maintain the broad wall, remembering that the friendship of this world is enmity against God.

    The broad wall afforded a pleasant place of resort for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from which they could command prospects of the surrounding country. This reminds us of the Lord's exceeding broad commandments, in which we walk at liberty in communion with Jesus, overlooking the scenes of earth, and looking out towards the glories of heaven. Separated from the world, and denying ourselves all ungodliness and fleshly lusts, we are nevertheless not in prison, nor restricted within narrow bounds; nay, we walk at liberty, because we keep his precepts. Come, reader, this evening walk with God in his statutes. As friend met friend upon the city wall, so meet thou thy God in the way of holy prayer and meditation. The bulwarks of salvation thou hast a right to traverse, for thou art a freeman of the royal burgh, a citizen of the metropolis of the universe
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    Spurgeon is wrong here.

    Christians, as the church of God, are not like a physical New Jerusalem – walled in on every side. Christ has called us to go into all the world, unto the ends of the earth. We are called to be salt (clearly mingling with those who need to be preserved) and light to those in darkness.

    Taking the image of a walled city as the normative for the Christian life and the mission of the church completely misses the calling of Christ in the New Testament. Spurgeon has used this fragment of a verse and launched into an extra-biblical teaching of propriety.

    I’m not saying that some of his observations are not correct or his concerns unfounded, but I am saying that he is misusing the Bible here and his words are merely his opinion, not a biblical mandate.
     
  11. ScottEmerson

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    I completely agree with Baptist Believer. If this is all the Scripture that Spurgeon uses to justify separation, then it is clear that separation is not Biblical.
     
  12. DanielFive

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    Spurgeon on separation :

    Separation from the world will endear you to the Savior, and bring you into conscious enjoyment of his presence; but, of opportunities to return there is no lack. READ MORE

    The heart which ought to be given to Christ and purity must not wander forth wantonly to woo the defiled and polluted things of this present evil world. Separation from the world is Christ's prayer for us. READ MORE

    Brethren, the use of the Church in the world is that it should be like salt in the midst of putrefaction; but if the salt has lost its savour, what is the good of it? If it were possible for salt itself to putrefy, it could but be an increase and a heightening of the general putridity. The worst day the world ever saw was when the sons of God were joined with the daughters of men. Then came the flood; for the only barrier against a flood of vengeance on this world is the separation of the saint from the sinner. Your duty as a Christian is to stand fast in your own place, and to stand out for God, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, resolving like one of old that, let others do as they will, as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord. READ MORE

    Do not many of God's people also need to bemoan their worldliness? Once Christ was all with you, brethren; is it so now? Once you despised the world, and contemned alike its pleasures and its frowns; but now, my brethren, are not the chains of worldly custom upon you? Are you not many of you enslaved by fashion, and eaten up with frivolity? Do you not, some of you, run as greedily as worldlings after the questionable enjoyments of this present life? Ought these things to be so? Can they remain so and your souls enjoy the Lord's smile? "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." You cannot be Christ's disciples, and be in fellowship with the ungodly. Come ye out from among them; be ye separate; touch not the unclean thing; then shall ye know right joyfully that the Lord is a Father to you, and that you are his sons and daughters. But, brethren, have ye gone unto Jesus without the camp, and do ye abide there with him? Is the line of your separation visible—ay, is it existing? Is there any separation at all? Is it not often the case that the professed people of God are mixed up with the sons of men so that you cannot discern the one from the other? If it be so with anyone of us, let him humble himself, and let him cry in bitterness, "Oh that I were as in months past." READ MORE

    Only in separation is salvation. READ MORE

    but this is the real meaning of the present-day religion; this is the drift of the times. I can justify the broadest statement I have made by the action or by the speech of certain ministers, who are treacherously betraying our holy religion under pretence of adapting it to this progressive age. The new plan is to assimilate the church to the world, and so include a larger area within its bounds. By semi-dramatic performances they make houses of prayer to approximate to the theatre; they turn their services into musical displays, and their sermons into political harangues or philosophical essays—in fact, they exchange the temple for the theatre, and turn the ministers of God into actors, whose business it is to amuse men. Is it not so, that the Lord's-day is becoming more and more a day of recreation or of idleness, and the Lord's house either a joss-house full of idols, or a political club, where there is more enthusiasm for a party than zeal for God? Ah me! the hedges are broken down, the walls are levelled, and to many there is henceforth, no church except as a portion of the world, no God except as an unknowable force by which the laws of nature work. READ MORE

    God Bless

    Enda
     
  13. JonathanDT

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    That sounds nice in theory, but in reality it is utterly impossible. If we weren't influenced by the world then you wouldn't be using a computer, would you? We wouldn't be allowed to have Christian web sites, because the world did it first. Web rings? No way. Christian Cd's? Nope, they were created by the world. Christian books? Nope, the world created both paper and writing. So in order to flourish, we MUST be influenced by the world.

    Not true. At one time it was perfectly acceptable for Christians to drink, it has only been recently when legalists have turned alcohol into a one way ticket for hell. You have yet to demonstrate anything wrong with pop concerts(though I would personally argue that people should stay away because it's bad music). It's good that the line you love so much has been blurred, because it was never created or condoned by God.
     
  14. ScottEmerson

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    The passage in question, in the context of Hebrews, is talking about returning to a non-saved state. Just as Abraham did not even think about what life was like back in Ur, CHristians should not think about what life was like without their salvation. We have been called from that. Spurgeon, for the most part, talks about specific sin - how Christians shouldn't return to sin and carnality (There are two or three paragraphs in which he advocates complete separation, but offers no Scriptural support thereof). Is music a sin? WHere is your Biblical proof for this?

    I found this very interesting. I wonder how much his view of the doctrines of grace affects his belief that Christians should separate completely from the world. What I understand from his view of separation is that a Christian should continue to live further and further away from sin. We should be on a pursuit of holiness. With this I agree.

    However, Spurgeon says that separation is the "crux and burden" of Christians. I would vehemently disagree. I would say that the "crux and burden" of Christians is to love God and love our neighbor. Sanctification is, indeed, a pursuit of holiness. However, nothing in the passage that he uses indicates that we should not try to influence the world showing them the culture of Christ, and nothing in the passage indicates that music is somehow sinful. The burden of proof still rests upon enda here.

    A couple of paragraphs before, Spurgeon states, "We cannot be fishers of men if we remain among men in the same element with them. Fish will not be fishers. The sinner will not convert the sinner. The ungodly man will not convert the ungodly man!" That's exactly right. We cannot win souls to Christ if we are sinning right along with them. I think this speaks toward McManus' second point. Later on, Spurgeon says, "If we desire, as fishers of men, to be largely used of God, we must copy our Lord Jesus in everything, and obey Him in every point." If that means attending parties with alcohol (John 2) in order to show them the power of God, so be it. If that means that we should eat lunch with prostitutes and tax collectors, so be it. If that means we sit on a well and have a conversation with the town laughingstock, so be it. I am willing to interact in the world and show them the culture of Christ. I am willing to judge what they do last, instead loving first. I am willing to reach out to a lost and dying world using the tools that GOd has given us. I am not willing to sin to do so. In this way, I am copying Jesus Christ.

    "Is it not often the case that the professed people of God are mixed up with the sons of men so that you cannot discern the one from the other?" If this is the case, then we have lost our effectiveness as Christians. SPurgeon then adds, appropriately enough, "How is it with your love to the souls of sinners? There was a time when you would have done anything to bring a man to Christ, when any exertion you could have put forth would have been made spontaneously, without the need of incessant exhortations; are you as ready to speak for Jesus now as you once were?" Spurgeon is not talking about the same separation we see anti-CCM people espouse. He's talking about making a difference in people's lives.

    This passage comes from a paragraph that is parenthetical to his sermon. In this passage, he talks about the kind of separation that you refer to - this is the kind of separation we see in point one of McManus'. "Had Mrs. Noah been like some of you she would have said, 'The girls cannot go out to any more parties, and our sons are shut out from all society. We are out of the world, and shall soon be forgotten.' Yes, yes, and Noah was glad of it, since it was the Lord that shut him in. When the Lord shuts you off from the world, you are best alone." Interestingly enough, he provides no real support for this, especially in light of those followers of God who did not separate themselves from the world. Why, if we were to follow what Spurgeon says in this passage, we would expect all of us to live in communes away from the world completely. He says we should have "faith enough to dwell alone."

    And this, as you can imagine, is the sermon I find the most contention with.He starts off well, talking about how our doctrine should not give in to what "modern thought" tells us, saying that man is basically good and a person need only act as best as he can to make it into heaven. He then commits an egregrious error. He lumps all these things into one - in other words, if a church tries to widen its boundaries to include (or attract) more people, then that church is becoming a house full of idols. There must be more enthusiasm for the party than for God, otherwise, why would a church do such a thing?

    What Spurgeon does not understand, possibly because many churches have changed, is that this is not necessarily the case. Who here can say that churches such as Saddleback Community Church or Northpoint Community Church, (which use praise and worship music, offer free coffee and cappocinos in their lobby, and has many of their congregants wearing jeans), is a house of idols, with more enthusiasm for a party than for God, when their conversions far, far exceed many other churches in the world? Spurgeon commits a logical fallacy called a false generalization. Not all churches who use certain types of music or who are committed to expand their audience to reach out to a lost and dying world are doing the things that Spurgeon says will happen. Some are, but in the Baptist world, the majority who do such things are not houses of idol or recreation.

    It is my hope that the church can adapt to this progressive age. In that stance, I take a position opposite to Spurgeon.
     
  15. ScottEmerson

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    I agree with Jonathan. In fact, I know that the person who installed my electricity is not a Christian, yet this doesn't stop me from enjoying the benefits of electricity. We shouldn't be influenced by SIN, not what we are placing as the world.

    Good call. Alcohol, in moderation, has always been allowed (one of my favorite passages is where Paul tells Timothy to drink a little bit). Personally, I do not drink because I don't like the taste, because I have no desire to, and as a minister to middle school students, I think that they would be too impressionable and unable to understand the freedom that we have in Christ. That, and as a Baptist, we just don't drink. It's in one of our codes, to "refrain from intoxicating beverages." However, many other denominations do not have a problem with alcohol in moderation.

    Just as you would have to show that the drinking of alcohol in moderation is a sin, you must show that praise and worship music is also a sin.
     
  16. DanielFive

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    Scott,

    Rather than continue on with an endless discussion I think I will withdraw from this debate. There is just no point in me telling you anything, your mind is obviously made up, thats your perogative. I don't come on here to win arguments, It was never my aim to extol myself, rather to exalt Christ.

    I hold the same views as were expounded upon by the giants of our faith, and I am convicted of these things in my own conscience.

    Looking at the life of Abraham, and contrasting this to the life of Lot and the end of Lots wife, has completly convinced me that whatever era we live in we must always do our utmost to be seperate and distinct from the world.

    I wish you well in your ministry and pray that the Lord will guide you in accordance with His will for your life.

    Enda
     
  17. ScottEmerson

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    Scott,

    Rather than continue on with an endless discussion I think I will withdraw from this debate. There is just no point in me telling you anything, your mind is obviously made up, thats your perogative. I don't come on here to win arguments, It was never my aim to extol myself, rather to exalt Christ.

    I hold the same views as were expounded upon by the giants of our faith, and I am convicted of these things in my own conscience.

    Looking at the life of Abraham, and contrasting this to the life of Lot and the end of Lots wife, has completly convinced me that whatever era we live in we must always do our utmost to be seperate and distinct from the world.

    I wish you well in your ministry and pray that the Lord will guide you in accordance with His will for your life.

    Enda
    </font>[/QUOTE]Come on now, Enda! I read through seven of Spurgeon's sermons and critiqued each of them. Several of them were saying something different than you, and two others had things that I attempted to refute, such as any church who wishes to expand its reach is a church of idolatry.

    All you have to do is show us from the Scriptures where certain music styles are supposed to be separate. I agree that Christians should not be sinners. That is the separation of the Bible. You wish to take it a step further in saying that we should be separate from everything in the world. All I ask is some Biblical support. That's it. In the absence of such support, then we must come to the conclusion that your belief that praise and worship music is worldly is an extra-Biblical belief. There is nothing wrong with that, but for it to be Truth it must be able to be backed up by Scripture.

    Spurgeon, when making some of his statements that went toward complete separation from the church, was unable to find such passages. Would you fare any better?

    What you must find is where this "line" is as far as distinctiveness. The New Testament is quite clear that we as Christians should not sin. However, the New Testament is also clear that we should "go" to the pagan world and present the life of Christ to them. For many, "going" is the same as being in the world, which goes against their belief system. You have to find out where that line is and be able to demonstrate that. Otherwise, it is a belief system that is founded upon sand.

    We all must do that. I don't care what you believe. I just care about why you believe it. For us to have the audacity to say that this MUST be this way and this MUST be that way, we must have the backing of the Holy Scriptures. In the absence of that, we are merely dealing with opinions, and not theological fact.
     

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