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0409_001.pdf.pdf

0409_001.pdf.pdf

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Published by Miguel Davilla
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Published by: Miguel Davilla on Mar 11, 2011
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03/11/2011

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Tobemosthelpfultoyou,you'llwanttointeractwiththismaterialasyoureadit.Whenyoureadsomethingthatmakesanimportantpointoranswersaquestionforyou,puta']'inthemargin.
If
somethingraisesaquestioninyourmind,orpresentssomethingyou'dliketoexplorefurther,placea
'?'
inthemargin.Ifyoureadsomethingthatsparksanideathatyouwanttoincludeanddevelopinyourchurchplant,placea
'*'
inthemargin.
Module
4.1
UnderstandingContextualization
Source:Keller,Tim.
Gospel
Ministry:
ModelandPractice.
RedeemerPresbyterianChurch,2006.
WhatisCulture?1."Theshapingof
the
naturalenvironment....
Culturecreatesa
'secondaryenvironment'
withtherawmaterialofnature(natureitselfbeingthe'primaryenvironment').Itincludeslanguage,habits,ideas,beliefs,customs,socialorganization,technicalprocesses,etc.Whenwecomposeandplayapieceofmusiconaflutewearetakingthenaturalprimaryelements(themetaloftheflute;thesoundintheair)andshapingitintosomethingelse.
"Ariverisnature,
a
canalculture;
a
rawquartzisnature,anarrowheadculture;
a
moan
is
nature,
a
wordculture."
(H.
RichardNiebuhr,ChristandCulture,
32)
2.....inthe
service
ofsomething."
Culturecreatesthisenvironmenttobringthenaturalorderintotheserviceofcertaincore
"commandingtruths".
Everycultureassumesananswertothebigquestions-'whyarewehere?whatare(therefore)themostimportantthingsinlife?whatiswrongwiththeworld?whatwillputthingsright?'Nocultureisneutralonthesematters,andallculturalworkiscovenantal-donewithaviewtobringnatureintotheserviceofsomethingvaluedasultimate.
"Culture...isanyandallhumaneffortandlaborexpendedonthecosmos,tounearthitstreasuresandrichesandbringtheminto...service...tosomething.
1/
(H.VanTil,TheCalvinisticConceptofCulture
32,33).
"Cultureis...anormativeorderbywhich
we
comprehendourselves,others,andthelargerworldandthroughwhich
we
orderourexperience.Attheheartofcultureis
a
systemofnormsandvalues...butthesenormsandvaluesarebetterunderstoodascommandingtruthssodeeplyembeddedinourconsciousnessandinthehabitsofourlivesthat
to
questionthemistoquestionrealityitself.
/I
(JamesD.Hunter,BeforetheShootingBegins,p.200)Thisviewofcultureseescultureitself(andthuseachparticularculture)asessentiallyreligiousatitscore.Cultureisthecreationofasecondaryenvironmentintheserviceofultimateconcerns.Culturethusarisesoutoftheonlyultimatehuman"need"-toworshipsomething-andoutofourcapacityasimage-bearerstotakedominionovernaturetobringintotheserviceofthatwhichweworship.
("Worshipedandservedcreatedthings,ratherthantheCreetor"
Rom.l:25)
The'mixednature'ofculture
 
Allculturesare'mixed'-thatis,allculturesarecomplexandtheyinterweavegodlyandungodlyelementstogetherveryclosely.1.Culturesaremixedbecausea)allhumanbeingsarebothradicallyfallenyetmadeintheimageandlikenessofGod,andbecauseb)therearevaryingdegreesofnaturalandspecialrevelationpresentwithinthem.EvenincultureswheretheBibleisinfluential,thedepravityofhumannaturecreatesidolswhichreignwithin.Andontheotherhand,cultureswithlittleornoinfluencefromtheBiblemaystill(dependingonthelevelofGod'scommongrace)containmanystrongelements,forGodgivespeopleaknowledgeofmoraltruthintheirconsciences(Romans2).2.Therefore,everyculturetosomedegreewillreflecttheknowledgeofGodthateverypersonpossesses,evenifitissuppressed(Romans1).Yeteveryculturetosomedegreewillbedistortedbysin,namelytheelevationoffinitevaluestothepositionoftheabsolute(idolatry).Thereforewecan'tsimplyevaluatemoretraditional,conservativeculturesasbeingmore'Biblical'andliberal,secularculturesasbeingmoreimmoralandevil.Conservativeculturesoftenelevatethefamilyorone'sracetoanabsolutevalue-leadingtotheidolatriesofracism,tribalism,patriarchyandotherformsofmoralismandoppression.Liberalcultureselevatetheindividualandhumanfreedomtoanabsolutevalue-leadingtotheerosionoffamily,community,ofintegrityinbothbusinessandsexualpractices.Yetboththeimportanceofthefamily
and
theworthandfreedomoftheindividualarerootedinaBiblicalworld-view.Soboththe'collectivist'traditionalcultureandthe'individualist'liberalculturearemixturesofdarknessandlight.3.ThisisquiteimportantforChristianstorealize.MostChristians'reactiontocultureistoosimplisticanddoesn'tdoanalysisthatgoesbeneaththebehaviorallevel.Theysimplyseecontemporarycultureas'bad'andthemoretraditionalU.S.cultureoftheearly20
th
centuryasbetter.But-a.First,thiscomesfromatheologically'thin'viewofsin,whichseessinasaseriesofdiscreteactsofnon-compliancetoGod'sregulations.Christiangrowthisseenmainlyasseekingenvironmentswhereyouarelesslikelytodothesesinfulactions.Sinissomethingthatcanbeessentiallyremovedfromtheperson.Butatheologically'thick'viewofsinseesitasacompulsivedriveofthehearttoproduceordiscoveridols.Ifwehavea'thin'viewofsin,wewillremovefromourviewanythingthatcouldtemptustodoovertactionsofsexualimmorality,profanity,violence.Bywithdrawingsuchcultural'texts'fromourviewwemayfeellesssinful,butthatisnotthecase.Thecomplexorganicnatureofoursinwillstillbeatworkmakingidolsoutofthingsthatarenotovertformsoflaw-breaking-likeourmoralgoodness,orfinancialsecurity,orourfamily,ordoctrinalpurity,orprideinourowntraditionalculture,andsoon.Infact,toomuchemphasison'withdrawal'makesthelikelihoodofslippinginto'respectable'idolatriesgreater.If,instead,wehavethe'thick'viewofsin-asidolatrythatpervadesallwedo-thisshouldleadnottowithdrawalortouncriticalconsumption,but
2
 
ratherto'humble,criticalengagement.'Weshouldidentifyculturalidolatriesinpopularcultureaswaysofrepentingfortheseedsofthesameinourownheartsandavoidingthem.(Thereiscertainlyroomforspecificwithdrawalformsometextsofpopular-or'high'!-culture,especiallywhenweareyounger.Wearetalkinghereofblanketwithdrawaloruncriticalconsumption.b.Second,thiscomesfromatheologically'thin'viewof"commongrace"orwhatissometimescalled'general'or'natural'revelation.Christianshavelongrecognizedthatallpeoplehave'knowledge'ofGodthattheysuppress,accordingtoRomans1-2.Butmanyconceiveofthisknowledgemainly(orstrictly)ascognitiveinformationthatcanberetrievedsomehowaswearguewithpeopleabouttheexistenceofGod,thetruthofChristianity,andsoon.Inotherwords,innate
know/edgeofCod
isthoughtofinintellectualterms.ButthelanguageofRom1:18-25givesusamuchmorecomprehensiveanddynamicpictureofhow'generalrevelation'or'commongrace'works.The
'truth'
isbeing
'suppressed'
(v.
18)
butitcontinuestobeardownonus.TheNIVtranslationofverse
20:
"Sincethecreation
of
theworldCod'sinvisiblequaJities...havebeenclearlyseen,beingunderstoodfromwhathasbeenmade,somenarewithoutexcuse."
Buttheverbs
nosumena
("arebeingunderstood")and
kathopatai
(lJ
are
beingseen")areintheformofpresentpassiveparticiples.Thatis,therealityofGod'snatureand
OUf
obligationstohimarecontinuouslypresenttous.Itshouldnotbethoughtofasstatic,innateideasorinformation,butasacontinuallyfresh,insistentpressureontheconsciousnessofeveryhumanbeing.Inshort,everyartifactofhumancultureisaresponsetoGod'sgeneralrevelation
(d.
Isaiah28)butalwaysmarredbyanidolatrousheartthatdoesn'twanttoacknowledgethetotalsovereigntyofGod(Rom
1
:21.)SoallculturalproductionisadialoguebetweenGod'sgeneralrevelationalgraceandtheidolatrousnatureofthehumanheart.Inshort,everyhumanbeingwhoproducesculture(andeveryoneis!)isinadeep'dialogue'withthegeneralrevelationofGod.Thereforehumancultureisanextremelycomplexmixtureofbrillianttruth,marredhalf-truths,andovertresistancetothetruth.Weshouldbewillingtobeveryengagedwithgeneralhumancultureproducedbynon-Christians.Why?a.First,a'thick'viewofsinmeansthatevenovertlyChristian-producedculturewillalwayshavesomeidolatrousdiscoursewithinit.WhenwebecomeChristianswecontinuetohavepowerfulamountsofremainingsin
In
us.b.Second,a'thick'viewofgracemeansthatevenovertlynon-Christian-producedculturewillalwayshavesomewitnesstoGod'struthinit.Eventheangry,overtlyanti-GodcultureistoadegreeatestimonytoGod'sreality.Manyofthesehaveanairofdesperationaboutthem.Theyarevainlytryingto'putout'whattheyknowintheirhearts.
3

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