The church and cultural/social concern

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by arapahoepark, Aug 18, 2019.

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  1. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    How much should we ad believers care or do about the world as this got me thinking:
    What I mean in essence is, if we are merely pilgrims passing through and this world is not our home, nor should we love the world, at what point does it become being a faithful witness as opposed to fruitless transformation? I see many advocating for more engagement culturally and socially, and others use the notion that since there will be a new heavens and earth, we must care about this planet and what goes on (one thinks of NT Wright and others are mostly liberal). At what point is this liberal social justice?
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  2. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I think a fairly significant part of the answer is that Christians should engage with what's relevant to their calling and stations. If your calling is to be a literary critic, then engage with structuralism, formalism, and the rest for the glory of God and model a better way to closely read and interpret texts. If your calling is as a city planner, engage as a Christian (e.g., resist advertising covers for manholes, but get the affordable risers that reduce the odds of damage to cars).

    But the Church doesn't need to have an official position on manhole covers or risers anymore than on the transmission history of Beowulf.
  3. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Always consider the source. Hart is a good source, Machen is a great source, and Galli ain’t half bad.

    I’m not endorsing any views here, I just find the insights on cultural engagement and motives behind it interesting. (We just need to form personal relationships and invite people to church. But ultimately, don’t worry about politics or cultural relevancy). From American Conservative:

    “Tim Keller is the No. 1 example of a successful Neutral World pastor. His success at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City “powerfully validated the Neutral World model.”
    He explicitly validated the pursuit of success at the highest echelons of American art, media, finance, etc., believing that Christianity had something to offer in those fields at all levels. He believes these secular fields, while suffering from fallenness like all human institutions, are fundamentally positive contributions to humanity and that Christianity should participate and engage with them rather than fighting against them or denouncing them.

    Here’s the problem, according to Renn: Since around 2014, we have shifted from Neutral World to Negative World — but a lot of Evangelicals still think we’re living in Neutral World, or wish we were.

    When the world switched from positive to neutral, the cultural engagement strategy was readily developed. With the switch from neutral to negative, the church needs a new strategy. However, one does not appear to be forthcoming. The lack of negative world ideas is remarkable not just for the fact that it has not occurred, but that it has received so little attention.

    .... Renn says that in 2014, he reckoned that “as soon as being known as a Christian would incur a material social penalty, which I anticipated happening soon, there would be a mass abandonment of the faith by the megachurch crowd, etc.”

    This didn’t happen, he said. What happened instead was that Neutral World Evangelicals have taken up the response of Mainline Protestant church by embracing the world and the social gospel. “In other words,” writes Renn, “they decided to sign on with the winning team.”

    The average neutral world Christian leader – and that’s a lot of the high profile ones other than the remaining religious righters, ones who have a more dominant role than ever thanks to the internet – talks obsessively about two topics today: refugees (immigrants) and racism. They combine that with angry, militant anti-Trump politics. These are not just expounded as internal to the church (e.g., helping the actual refugee family on your block), but explicitly in a social reform register (changing legacy culture and government policy).

    I’m not going to argue that they are wrong are those points. But it’s notable how selective these folks were in picking topics to talk about. They seem to have landed on causes where they are 100% in agreement with the elite secular consensus.

    I won’t speculate on their motives, but it’s very clear that neutral world leaders have a lot to lose. Unlike Jerry Falwell, who never had secular cachet and lived in the sticks, these guys enjoy artisanal cheese, microbrews, and pour over coffees in Brooklyn. They’ve had bylines in the New York Times and Washington Post. They get prime speaking gigs at the Q conference and elsewhere. A number of them have big donors to worry about. And if all of a sudden they lost the ability to engage with the culture they explicitly affirmed as valuable, it would a painful blow.
    ....they’d have to admit that the entire foundation of their current way of doing business no longer works. Not many people are interested in hearing that.

    The neutral world Christians – and again that seems to be much of Evangelical leadership today – are in a tough spot when it comes to adjusting to the negative world. The move from positive to neutral world brought an increase in mainstream social status (think Tim Keller vs. Pat Robertson), but the move to a negative world will involve a loss of status. Let’s be honest, that’s not palatable to most. Hence we see a shift hard to the left and into very public synchronization with secular pieties. That’s not everybody in Evangelical leadership, but it’s a lot of them...”
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  4. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hey now, don't throw pour overs under the Tim Keller bus!
  5. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    What of ideas of cosmic redemption that is routinely touted in aforementioned circles? Colossians 1:20, 1 Corinthians 15:25-29. What entails 'everything'? Are Christians called to be a part 'redeeming' institutions, culture, etc.?
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Forget all the big words and labels. We want the gospel to change every aspect of life and society, right?
  7. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not in a social gospel sort of way. We can never right every wrong, especially when rights ARE wrong
  8. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Certainly. Though many would believe otherwise and are using notions of cosmic renewed, social justice, etc. For leftist causes. My concern is how are these refuted while maintaining legitimate (not faux) causes?
    I assume this touches on Kuyperian and 2k debates...admittedly I am not as well read in the former.
  9. Reformed Apologist

    Reformed Apologist Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we need to be good and faithful custodians of what God has given us. Just as long as we keep things in perspective and not let our stewardship, trump or smother the great commision and what we have been called to do.
  10. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    There are no manholes buddy.
  11. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Berkeley retains its storied role as the critical leader in all important issues.
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