Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Creating culture

I may be about to set up some straw men and then set fire to them. That's sometimes the fun of blogging. I'm still chewing over some of the things Tim Keller said a couple of weeks ago. Behind all the hoo-hah over cities was a deeper goal - culture shaping.

Keller who leads the influential NYC megachurch Redeemer clearly has the goal of influencing, transforming, changing (call it what you will) the nations culture. To do that, he reasons, you have to be in the cities. In America that means one of 2 places probably - LA or NY. Too bad for everyone else.

The mandate to create culture comes at the beginning with Adam & Eve to work the garden, which doesn't sound like creating culture but really it is. God says to man, 'Go build stuff' and man does. What man builds is summed up by the word 'culture'. Well ok.

But is the goal of the church to transform culture? Is that our goal? It seemed to me that Keller was saying, 'Yes, that is the goal of the church'.

Because I'm pedantic, I'd argue that transforming culture may be a wonderful byproduct, bonus if you will, but it's not our goal. Our goal is simply faithful obedience to Christ our awaited groom. The church is to obey Christ, love Christ, adore Christ, preach Christ, remember Christ, be clothed with Christ. We are all about the one who loves us like no other.

We are to do that in the marketplace, in the world of arts, law, commerce, sport, crafts, design, publishing, music, politics and even the church. We are called to obedience wherever we are until He comes back to claim what is His. If that means by doing that that culture changes because lots of us are all doing that with similar values and aims, wonderful. If there's just a few of us and the darkness seems the greater it's no less wonderful.

Do I want my neighbourhood and community to have changed and transformed values? Of course I do, absolutely. My strategy? As best I can, with all I can, and all I am, wherever I am and whenever I can to love Jesus. I think on that point at least, Dr Keller might agree with me.


Peter on 12 March 2009 at 01:22 said...

Is that not sort of like saying that the aim of being a Christian is not to love other Christians, but that is a wonderful byproduct of being a Christian?

That is in some sense a true statement, but at the same time if we weren't loving other Christians it would be a clear indication that we were doing something wrong! If we aren't transforming the culture around us to be more Christlike, aren't we doing something wrong?

Phil on 12 March 2009 at 08:57 said...

Hi Peter, I agree that there should be a noticeable difference in all sorts of ways because of the presence of Christians - impact on culture being one of them. So, yes no change there's a problem. We've become like the culture and not the other way around.

But Jesus didn't ask me to 'make an impact on culture' but to love God with all my heart, obey him and teach others to do likewise. If that results in change great. I'm just thinking through what my aim is. My eyes I don't think should be on culture change.

Anonymous said...

Yet again a great post. I have tried to get my head around the stuff on culture from people like Keller and felt very uncomfortable. I feel it can be a big distraction from our commission.
I also think that it is funny that Local Authrities also talk about culture alot and have performance indicators on the subject.

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