Cultural Christianity

As a southern boy, Georgia born and raised, Cherokee/Scott-Irish decent, I was a culturally entrenched Christian that was not really a Christian. I’m an “inheritor” of a brand of Christianity that assumes much and has evaluated very little.
Truth: I was 20 years old before I heard a gospel that was NOT moralistic, therapeutic deism. Jesus’ name was attached to a litany of dos and don’ts. But the soul transforming, justifying, new heart giving, message of the justifying work of the eternal Son of God in the place of sinners simply was not what I heard. I’m sure it was sprinkled in amongst other things, but it was not the major by any means.
I could tell you why Israel, regardless of their belief in Jesus, was still under the special redemptive favor of God (while denying any robust belief in the doctrine of election, which would be required if one is to hold that position fully) and it would be better to just kill everyone else who challenged Israel. I could tell you a timeline of when Jesus was coming back…without any doubt of the sequence of events…By God. I could tell you that hell was hot, and if I just prayed to receive Jesus I’d not go to that hot place. I didn’t know what it means to receive Jesus, but it had something to do with joining the church and filling out a decision card. That I was sure of.
Now hear me, none of that was innately evil (some might debate that)), but its debatable and when not salted with the centrality of the word of the cross and the full counsel of the whole bible, it is the byproduct of cultural Christianity. The Spirit was gracious to use that stuff to get me in the right place at the right time, but it was not ideal. It’s still not ideal.
Basically, cultural Christianity is the adoption of the name “Christian” without real application of what the bible teaches a Christian is to believe and do in the world for the ends the bible gives.
Cultural Christians likely don’t know they are cultural Christians. 
Cultural Christianity is usually not hard to spot, heck I used to be one, and has many symptoms. My aim with these few points is to capture a snapshot of a portion of the deadly virus of cultural Christianity not so much the symptoms (some would say my list is symptomatic).  
1. Cultual Christianity lacks a robust view of the local church.
CC (Cultural Christianity). does not value the local church. Church…called out ones…bride of Christ…special/elect people of God from all nations…body of Christians covenanted together, on mission, preaching the gospel, observing the ordinances/sacraments, committed to that local church, serving within that church, making disciples in the public square, and cooperating with like-minded people…
Church for CC is a product to help a person or family get to their desired ends NOT a special object of Jesus’ affection that is to be prioritized for Jesus’ sake and the sake of others.
2. Cultural Christianity makes up “laws” that contradict clear biblical teaching.
Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV) 1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, Honor your father and your mother,’ and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
I refer to this as “idolatry dressed in a Christian t-shirt”.
These guys had taken a commandment, and ripped it off it by saying one could take what they were supposed to support their parents with and thus honoring them, and giving it to God as an offering. Hey, they were supposed to support their parents and still give their 10th of everything. So are we, by the way. Stewardship, and that’s another post.
Whats wrong with what they did? They are giving an offering to God? Giving is good, right? Wrong!
Giving is not bad, but when you are giving to whatever what you were supposed to support your aging parents with and thus NOT obeying the command to “honor your father and mother”, you are sinning…according to Jesus who gave the command in the first place. They sinned by not giving and supporting their parents. It was a stewardship issue. They wanted to keep more for themselves, so they combined commands and got off with giving one thing rather than more.
If we have stated or unstated rules that contradict biblical values, we are cultural Christians.
3. Cultural Christianity has no sense of a full and robust biblical theology applied to the public square, rather CC “cherry picks” bible verses to prove their personal or organizational or political point. 
There is a lacking knowledge of the whole bible preaching the consistent gospel from cover to cover.
Many see a contradiction of the God of the Old Testament and Jesus. This one fires me up, and the prophet in me has a hard time chilling out.
Where are the good pastors teaching sound doctrine? Oh, wait, they cherry pick for sermons too, so no wonder their people do that. Like people like priest (Hosea 4:9).
When seeking to make sense out of the command to love God and love our neighbor well, I wrote about a way to curb school violence by Christian students learning to love their neighbor well…see it here Love Your Neighbor As Yourself…A Most Fitting Alternative For Schools And Violence

Look at this response someone posted to that blog:

You have compromised the gospel by adding to it the ideology of social and racial justice. You embrace cultural Marxists such as Russell Moore as Thabiti Anyabwile. Your social gospel is nothing but an attempt to appease the world and the culture by encouraging Christians to adopt political social justice ideas through the guise of “gospel mandates”.
You are trying to guilt Christians into believing that if they don’t jump onto the social justice bandwagon, they are being disobedient to the Great Commission. This is simply a false and it’s underhanded.
You are simply an open-borders, neo-conservative, social gospel preacher. Your self proclaimed conservative orthodoxy is unconvincing.
I’ll just leave it right there. You decide.
4. Cultural Christianity spiritualizes the bible and thus is taken captive by every wind of doctrine. 
Example of spiritualizing: “The city of Jerusalem had x or y number of gates (depending on when), so every city has x or y number of spiritual gates guarded by spiritual leaders.”
I’ve heard this one, and many allegorizations of bible texts. This is particularly true of Old Testament texts. People simply don’t know how to read the Old Testament well.
Again, where are the faithful pastors teaching people how to read the bible? The bible is not a magical book of incantations. It’s the inerrant, inspired, infallible word that is written in history, in genres, by human means with one author (God). This means that the bible passages have a meaning in history and in time that is timeless, and this involves some hard work of knowing how to read genres, learning a little history, and put in the hard work of taking the mined truth and applying it to today.
This is possible, even required of us. However, it’s a challenge. And it’s just easier to spiritualize everything or allegorize everything.
This terrible habit stunts our growth up into Jesus who is our Lead Pastor, Savior, King and giver of the word.
5. Cultural Christianity has zero credibility in the public square. 
CC is dying, and is segregated to itself, and has no affect on the transformation of our cities.
We work in the public square. I serve at DFCS Board Chair. I’ve been on that board for Rome/Floyd County for 12 years. We work with the city/county to repair our families.
I see first hand that there are FEW churches represented in that realm. US, THOSE FEW and our other non-profit. Why another non-profit? Because most churches won’t give to another church to do that hard work, so we had to have another non-profit so folks wouldn’t feel like we were competing with them or infringing on their territory…not making that up.
(Side Note: Most evangelical churches are not in this work…It’s the the theological liberal churches, by and large,that have really come out to serve. There are solid evangelical churches that help and serve, make not mistake. I understand why this is historically as an educated man, and I can draw that connection, but for my conservative / evangelical brothers and sisters, I don’t understand the disconnect unless much of their faith is cultural in nature…Please don’t get mad at my side note)
I believe it would be wise to read and make application of 2 Corinthians 13:5.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Contend for the faith, and likely you’ll have to do that among Cultural Christians down here rather than those who are clearly not Christians. Those clearly not Christians are easier to work with and have a greater ethic in many cases. It’s a shame, but its true.
Jude 1:3 (ESV) Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

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