Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Culture and the World (Londinistan II)

I wanted to clarify something in contrast to my article about loving culture. As I mentioned in that article, by loving culture I do not mean loving “the world.” David F. Wells has rightly said that “worldliness is that system of values and beliefs, behaviors and expectations, in any given culture that have at their center the fallen human being and that relegate to their periphery any thought of God. Worldliness is what makes sin look normal in any age and righteousness seem odd.” It is very much the case from a biblical point of view that Christians are to hate and separate themselves from worldliness. They are not to engage in or tolerate within themselves those values, beliefs, expectations and behaviors that are not in tune with the mind of Christ. For the Christian, Christ must always be the center. Everything must be judged in relationship to Christ. As it says in the scriptures, every thought must be made subject to Christ. As David Wells has also pointed out, the problem with the church today is not that it is not efficient enough or appealing enough. Its crisis is not one of image or management. Rather it is because we are, in fact, too worldly. We love the things our world loves instead of loving Christ. Christians should ask the question of what Christ wants and how God expects us to live and then through prayer and the help that comes from prayer, bring his life, his family, his community and as much of the world as possible into conformity with God’s rule and direction. Naturally, in a fallen world that is in rebellion against God, this is a never ending battle. I am not a post- millennialist and it seems to me that scripture seems to indicate that the church will never be completely successful in bringing the entire world to know Christ prior to Christ’s return. Nevertheless, we should fight the good fight so that when Christ does return we will be found faithful. And who knows, history is a long phenomena. There may be long periods of great success if we will seek God and apply ourselves.

How must we apply ourselves? As I say, the answer is not in management or appearances. The real thing is seeking God and His truth. Jesus in His high priestly prayer asks God the Father to sanctify His people and to sanctify them through His Word. It is through the Word of God that we are sanctified, that is, made holy and brought into conformity with the will and rule of God. In other words, becoming what we need to be involves finding the truth and believing it. It also means communicating the truth to others. And not just a few simple truths, but the truth about everything. This is exactly why post-modernism is so dangerous. It proclaims that there is no truth. It is the anti-logocentric philosophy. By contrast, Christianity should be seeking the truth about everything. It is logocentric. That is, it has Christ as the word, the will, the plan, the knowledge, the logic, the revelation, the order of God at the center.

As I am certainly not the first to observe, the root of culture is “cult.” It is the stuff associated with a religious belief that animates a society. The worldliness of our age resolves around man as his own god. In post-modern philosophy, man rejects the Logos of God and instead substitutes the will of the community. In his post-modern business, he rejects the Logos of God and substitutes modern managerial technique. In his psychology, he rejects the Logos of God and substitutes the desire to feel good, be positive and shrug off guilt. In his politics, he claims that whatever is legal is good and that whatever he wants to do should be legal. As a corollary, whatever he does not want others to do or say should be illegal irregardless of moral truth. The world tries to tell us we can’t know truth, we can’t know anything about God, we can’t really make up our minds of what is right or wrong. Because of sin, there is a tiny grain of truth in claims about our lack of knowledge. But rejecting truth and seeking after the will of the human community is not a substitute for attempting to find absolute truth and falling short of the goal. Truth exists and we must pursue it ruthlessly. Christ is that truth and He wants to be found. In fact, if we find ourselves pursuing truth, we shall eventually learn that it is actually Christ drawing us to Himself rather than our own virtue that is the ultimate cause of such a phenomena. If it is difficult for us to pursue truth, we must pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to us, that He will draw us to Himself, that He will cause us to love Him more and to understand His ways. We must seek the will to be illumined and to have the desires of our hearts be in conformity with the will of God so that God will happily grant them. Undoubtedly, God will not say no to such prayers. Jesus spoke again and again of how God is a loving Father and gives His children good gifts rather than bad ones. If we ask for good things such as a greater knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the Word of God as it applies to life, God will say yes and give us what we seek. His promises about prayer were not given to us so that we could ask God for self-destructive things like money, sex and power grounded outside of His will and used outside of His plan. Instead, it is exactly faith and truth and wisdom that God promises to give in return for our asking. Let us seek His face as individuals, as the church, as a people, and we will surely find Him for He is not far from us though we have tried to be far from Him. We can know the truth. And he will set us free.

No comments: