Creating, Not Attacking, the Culture

By Mark A. Taylor

We were visiting the beautiful Cloisters museum and gardens in New York City and browsing through its remarkable displays of 5,000 works of medieval art. Most of the paintings, sculpture, and stained-glass windows depicted Christian images, and I found myself wondering, “Centuries from now what great art from the West will the world find as a Christian witness?”

10_Eddy_ARTBUG_SRSeveral writers at our site this month are trying to answer that question. And all of our “Christians and culture” articles appearing here present a challenge to positive culture-shaping initiatives, some of them in ways far removed from the arts.

These stories can prod all of us to decide how we will be salt and leaven for a culture that needs the flavor and beauty that only a biblical worldview provides.

Some of us, like Joe Boyd, may make films that lift up godly values or find other ways to take the Bible’s stories beyond the confines of our church buildings.

Some of us, like Rich and Dori Gorman may decide to get in step with how God is already working to transform the culture of our communities.

Some of us, as Dudley Rutherford advocates, will pursue political or legal influence.

Some of us, like missionaries to Kenya Dan Crum and Joe Cluff, will decide on a slower, subtler, and ultimately more effective approach than a frontal attack on a culture’s ingrained social shortcomings.

Hopefully every reader will notice that “attack” is not the theme of these posts. Christians, attempting the world’s methods of confrontation, manipulation, and political power brokering, have lost the “culture wars.” But those writing and interviewed this month are shaping the cultures they’re touching. And each of them is an example for us to find ways to do the same.

It’s an issue that won’t go away. Seven years ago, I wrote an editorial asking, “Can the Church Impact Culture?”  Dave Ferguson, lead pastor with Community Christian Church, Naperville, Illinois, and its sprawling network of multisite churches, said something then that bears repeating in this issue:

“The best way to penetrate the culture is to create the culture and not react to it,” he wrote. “The church was designed by Jesus to set the pace in cultural transformation, servant leadership, and spiritually inspired art! When we do that we will be creating the culture, and the world will respond to us.”

 

Hear Joe Boyd and Rich Gorman talk more about their vision for culture influence in our next episode of Beyond the Standard, Thursday, October 23, 11 a.m. at http://bit.ly/1vUfLqW.

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