Culture and Christian

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I know the title of this post is a bit ridiculous. I couldn't think of anything better to call it. I want to address one particular point where I believe we need to check ourselves. Is culture influencing us in one particular nearly invisible way, namely, the way of outrage, polarization, illegitimate certainty, and fear? Believe you me, I am preaching to myself first on this one, because I feel and see these things, and I doubt I'm the only one.

The way of outrage: if someone disagrees with me, how dare they? Don't they know I have done all the research? Don't they know I have all the answers? Don't they know I know the Bible so much better than they do? Why won't they buckle when faced with the intensity of my razor-sharp arguments that prove everything to my satisfaction, and if it's good enough for me, it should be good enough for everyone? But then, who died and made my brain the measure of all things? Why should I so arrogantly assume that if it is proven to my satisfaction, that such ought to be good enough for everyone else? Of course, in a culture that no longer values logic, the basis of all things becomes emotion, especially emotion based on my own outrage. The thickness of my skin then becomes measurable in single-digit angstroms, and I launch WW3 against all who oppose me, the idiots.

Polarization is becoming more and more popular. Shades of opinion in-between the opposites are not really allowed to exist anymore. Christians need to wake up and realize that post-modernism is no longer the reigning paradigm. Progressivism is not post-modern. Post-modernism lasted just long enough for the aberrant to become just mainstream enough to start tyrannizing the truth. Progressivism doesn't need or want post-modernism anymore, since it is an obstacle to its tyranny. It's not "truth in the eye of the beholder," it's "you have to believe that I have the truth, and your truth, if it is something I don't like, is therefore false." The most common fallacy I see today is the false dichotomy. It is indicative of a highly polarized society where mediating positions are no longer allowed. You either agree with me, or you're not a Christian at all.

Illegitimate certainty is on the rise, too. It doesn't seem to matter how little research anyone has done on an issue, if they have read a dozen online articles by self-proclaimed experts, then they are one, too. It is not a certainty based on revelation, typically. The Christian is often tempted by this into thinking that if they can support their argument from Scripture, then that brings the absolute certainty in all things that they want, and it is bedrock against encroaching liberalism. Never mind that there are Christians who have disagreed about many things in the Bible for millennia. We become ossified in our own interpretation, and thereby become extremely irritated when challenged. As a result, we lose our curiosity. This is an exceedingly dangerous place to be. It is closely related to the fear I write about next, since certainty is the thing many Christians think will prevent them from being enslaved to fear.

Lastly, Christians are being seriously infected by the fear of the world, not just in being intimidated by the world's growing animosity, but also in seeing the world's fear of COVID, say, we wind up forgetting which the winning side is. We forget how many things are both worse than death, or more important than death. Perfect love casts out fear. We have the perfect love of God resting on us. That should therefore cast out all fear. We cannot live by fear. We also need to remember who the true enemy is. It's not the person on the other end of the argument. At worst, that person might be deceived by the real enemy, but is not the true enemy themselves.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Senior
That’s only your opinion and you’re just plain wrong… (sorry, couldn’t resist…) Actually it’s more like, how did you peer into my being like that…? And that’s exactly right, cancel culture has transcended post modern relativism.
 
Last edited:

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I find it interesting how even on the Puritan Board, quite often all you have to do is read the opening post on a thread, then immediately skip to post number thirty or so, and you land on people arguing with each other intensely. It's so predictable and so often gets to that point. I understand it's fine to disagree, but the way it's done so often... wow.
 

Polanus1561

Puritan Board Sophomore
I find it interesting how even on the Puritan Board, quite often all you have to do is read the opening post on a thread, then immediately skip to post number thirty or so, and you land on people arguing with each other intensely. It's so predictable and so often gets to that point. I understand it's fine to disagree, but the way it's done so often... wow.
PB didn’t use to be like this in my opinion.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks Lane. I have been grappling with this for quite some time on the local level. I hardly have the energy to raise even here the concerns you've brought up.

Going through 1 Corinthians has caused me no end of reflection upon our time. I think the divisions in the church there were fundamentally what we see today--mostly related to a desire for checklist-like certainty and reliance on what Paul calls "knowledge." Not disparaging knowledge at all, but, as he puts it:

"We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies." (1 Cor. 8:1 NKJ)

As we debate, let us remember that each who professes faith in Christ ought to be considered, foremost, as having the same status: hopeless sinners redeemed by God's grace alone.
 

wyattchosen

Puritan Board Freshman
Why would we argue, how is that glorifying to God? Christ did not argue, Paul, did not argue. What both did was quote scripture. The power is in the word not your eloquent speech. You can't change a heart or an opinion that is up to the Holy Spirit. We help those who oppose themselves through God's word, in love, or better yet because you love that persons soul. God will use you to speak the truth the Holy Spirit will apply it to their life on His time and for His purpose.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
PB didn’t use to be like this in my opinion.
I miss the old days. LOL. I just want people to be honest and care for each other.
.
We use to have some rock and roll discussions on here. Sparks would fly. It was very good and we had some great discussions on baptism. There has been a lot of heat fire branding here. There have also been a lot of Spirit filled responses we get from people like Dr. Alan Strange. He is a Pastor's Heart exemplified. There are a lot of good things that have come from the spirted discussions. There has been a lot of growth. There have been a lot of growing pains but this board is a standard I believe. Yes, I am biased.
 
Last edited:

davejonescue

Puritan Board Freshman
Could it be also, the prevalence of heresy or liberalism in the church that has partly led to this strict, quick, "line in the sand" mentality on most issues? Sometimes in my life, and my walk, I ponder the scores of denominations and churches who are giving way to LGBTQ ordination, gay marriage, and church membership; and I often wonder; knowing we read the same Bible "in what areas of their lives did they allow themselves to compromise that led them to accept such false doctrine?" This isnt just a few fringe believers, there are millions of "Christians" in the US that hold to this. In my 16 years as a Christian, I have witnessed this, and the Emergent Church Movement. And now we are in the midst of a whole "deconversion" movement.

What I mean is, I would love, at least in my personal walk to show a huge amount of grace given convictions, but it is so hard to see a theological and ecclesiological landscape so riddled with outright denial of the basic tenants of faith, that it is hard not to look at a single compromise, even in personal convictions, as a potential avalanche into unorthodoxy that is started with a single snow ball falling from a tree limb.

I am guilty of the things you say; but it is not in the Spirit of wanting to be right, or to argue; but to hold secure those truths entrusted, for a very real fear of becoming just like those millions of Christians in churches all over the US embracing the very doctrines God calls sin. That may be one of the hardest things, at least for me to do; that is feel secure in bending while not fearing breaking.
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
I know the title of this post is a bit ridiculous. I couldn't think of anything better to call it. I want to address one particular point where I believe we need to check ourselves. Is culture influencing us in one particular nearly invisible way, namely, the way of outrage, polarization, illegitimate certainty, and fear? Believe you me, I am preaching to myself first on this one, because I feel and see these things, and I doubt I'm the only one.
Think this is absolutely spot on, and once you've seen it, you can't unsee it. On the polarisation/outrage side of things, there was an article some time back on a/the way to be counter-cultural on this which gave me a lot to chew over, https://www.reformationscotland.org/2022/06/23/it-is-possible-to-love-your-enemy-in-polarised-times/.

The fear thing is troubling too. It's as if we've allowed our horizons to be shrunk down to the best we can hope for in earthly terms. We seem to self-censor about the reality of life after death, and the glorious hope that we have, which should surely put our natural fears in perspective and allow us to live joyfully and generously.
 

iddevalois

Puritan Board Freshman
The most common fallacy I see today is the false dichotomy. It is indicative of a highly polarized society where mediating positions are no longer allowed. You either agree with me, or you're not a Christian at all.
We also need to remember who the true enemy is. It's not the person on the other end of the argument. At worst, that person might be deceived by the real enemy, but is not the true enemy themselves.

Good callout. While I'm not one to erupt into a verbal (or digital) rage, I certainly must admit I have been harboring this sentiment in my heart. I've chosen to justify this secret polarization in my journey from broad evangelicalism into the Reformed tradition. Thank you for pointing these things out, they are certainly convicting.
 

Joshua White

Puritan Board Freshman
I very much appreciate what you have said on this particular issue and have been troubled by the near constant polemics of so many within reformdom. What I have found is that so many that I have dealt with as a pastor over their hearts and attitudes as they grapple with doctirne and theological positions is that without fail they appeal to their conscience. When did our consciences become the srtandard for truth?

I cannot help but think about what Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote so many years ago, (paraphrase) "A ministry built upon polemics is a ministry that is destined to fail." Could this possibly be the case for the individual whose constant stance is polemic?

As a pastor, it is easy for me to be sucked into the infighting. I readily recognize that.
 

wyattchosen

Puritan Board Freshman
I think a lot of this sentiment is spiritually superfluous and has no relevance to the issue at hand. We can state our points without it being an argument. Seriously do you think by attacking a brother in Christ you are going to win him to your point of view? Once it digresses into an argument it needs to stop. At that point neither side is listening to the other only waiting for the other side to stop talking so they can once again repeat what they have already said. Only the Holy Spirit can apply the truth of the word to our lives and none of our eloquence of speak makes an once of difference.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think a lot of this sentiment is spiritually superfluous and has no relevance to the issue at hand. We can state our points without it being an argument. Seriously do you think by attacking a brother in Christ you are going to win him to your point of view? Once it digresses into an argument it needs to stop. At that point neither side is listening to the other only waiting for the other side to stop talking so they can once again repeat what they have already said. Only the Holy Spirit can apply the truth of the word to our lives and none of our eloquence of speak makes an once of difference.
By “argument” do you mean reasoning or having a quarrel?
 

John The Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
I think a lot of this sentiment is spiritually superfluous and has no relevance to the issue at hand. We can state our points without it being an argument. Seriously do you think by attacking a brother in Christ you are going to win him to your point of view? Once it digresses into an argument it needs to stop. At that point neither side is listening to the other only waiting for the other side to stop talking so they can once again repeat what they have already said. Only the Holy Spirit can apply the truth of the word to our lives and none of our eloquence of speak makes an once of difference.
I think there is a fine line. If you have quarreling in mind, I tend to agree. Yelling matches don’t seem to be the means God uses to bring about a person’s salvation. I especially relate to the idea of not listening but only wanting to state what one has already said.

On the other hand, well reasoned conversations and ‘discussions’ are very appropriate, I think. This is of course modeled by Paul in both the synagogues and with the Greeks. I also would not doubt if some of those discussions in the synagogues seemed more like quarrels considering they occasionally led to riots.

Righteous anger is also certainly a thing, however it seems as though that is usually used as an excuse for unrighteous anger.

To the OP, I feel this on a very deep level. There are many times I leave conversations thinking I have been an awful representation of Christ to those with whom I was speaking. They are often believers themselves, but not reformed. So, I am a bad example of the peace and security that should arise when God’s sovereignty gets a grip on you.

Michael Horton wrote:
“In an ironic twist, at that very moment in my life when I became convinced that I couldn't convert anybody and had to trust the Spirit to work as he chose through my witness, I grew impatient with my own fellow Christians. Where I had been liberated by a fresh view of God and his gospel of grace in Christ, I was now imprisoned by my own pride. Perversely, I was proud of knowing that I was totally depraved, helpless, and saved by grace alone. How blind were other Christians who didn't "get it"!”
For Calvinism 194
And also:
“When you are overwhelmed by a sense of being claimed by God and his Word- in ways that were obscure even through years of church life - it is easy to develop something like a "messiah complex." Sometimes we mistake confidence in the truth with self-confidence. Some Christians confuse humility with imbecility: a lazy shrug in the face of very important questions for which God has given us answers. However, others-including Calvinists- can confuse confidence in God's Word with confidence in our own interpretations. Genuine humility allows people
to doubt themselves even while they are confident in the truth. And we can always do with more of both.” (178)

I think we would do well to ruminate over these two passages
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I just read through 2 Timothy last night. This stuck out to me:

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." 2.24-25.ESV

Kindness, patience, and gentleness are God's standard for how we treat people. Even with people who are our enemies.
 

CovenantPatriot87

Puritan Board Freshman
I just read through 2 Timothy last night. This stuck out to me:

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." 2.24-25.ESV

Kindness, patience, and gentleness are God's standard for how we treat people. Even with people who are our enemies.
Well you think we would get that by now.
 

wyattchosen

Puritan Board Freshman
I think there is a fine line. If you have quarreling in mind, I tend to agree. Yelling matches don’t seem to be the means God uses to bring about a person’s salvation. I especially relate to the idea of not listening but only wanting to state what one has already said.

On the other hand, well reasoned conversations and ‘discussions’ are very appropriate, I think. This is of course modeled by Paul in both the synagogues and with the Greeks. I also would not doubt if some of those discussions in the synagogues seemed more like quarrels considering they occasionally led to riots.

Righteous anger is also certainly a thing, however it seems as though that is usually used as an excuse for unrighteous anger.

To the OP, I feel this on a very deep level. There are many times I leave conversations thinking I have been an awful representation of Christ to those with whom I was speaking. They are often believers themselves, but not reformed. So, I am a bad example of the peace and security that should arise when God’s sovereignty gets a grip on you.

Michael Horton wrote:
“In an ironic twist, at that very moment in my life when I became convinced that I couldn't convert anybody and had to trust the Spirit to work as he chose through my witness, I grew impatient with my own fellow Christians. Where I had been liberated by a fresh view of God and his gospel of grace in Christ, I was now imprisoned by my own pride. Perversely, I was proud of knowing that I was totally depraved, helpless, and saved by grace alone. How blind were other Christians who didn't "get it"!”
For Calvinism 194
And also:
“When you are overwhelmed by a sense of being claimed by God and his Word- in ways that were obscure even through years of church life - it is easy to develop something like a "messiah complex." Sometimes we mistake confidence in the truth with self-confidence. Some Christians confuse humility with imbecility: a lazy shrug in the face of very important questions for which God has given us answers. However, others-including Calvinists- can confuse confidence in God's Word with confidence in our own interpretations. Genuine humility allows people
to doubt themselves even while they are confident in the truth. And we can always do with more of both.” (178)

I think we would do well to ruminate over these two passages
I'm with you all the way, you are spot on. I think all to often over talking one another is called a debate which it is not. Reasoned arguments come from a desire to honor God and strive for the truth.
 

wyattchosen

Puritan Board Freshman
I just read through 2 Timothy last night. This stuck out to me:

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." 2.24-25.ESV

Kindness, patience, and gentleness are God's standard for how we treat people. Even with people who are our enemies.
That should be the mantra of the believer thank you for the response
 

pylgrym

Puritan Board Freshman
I find it interesting how even on the Puritan Board, quite often all you have to do is read the opening post on a thread, then immediately skip to post number thirty or so, and you land on people arguing with each other intensely. It's so predictable and so often gets to that point. I understand it's fine to disagree, but the way it's done so often... wow.
Carnal Funnies
 
Top