And we’re back! If you’re just joining us, we’re in the middle of reviewing the three typical ways that we as Adventists have responded to pop culture we find ourselves in. If you need a quick refresher course or have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to get up to speed.
So, other than to reject or ignore culture, another predominant tendency is to
This is when the pendulum goes from one extreme to the other. No longer is anything seen as “the Devil;” as a matter of fact, one may doubt if the Devil is really a real being or not in this position. The main thought in this point of view is, “We can’t escape culture and culture is what it is, so let’s just accept the whole thing.”
Nothing is off limits; everything is permitted for this group. All parts of your particular are great and not only that, they’re the BEST! All other ones pale in comparison to how cool yours is.
So, which culture/lifestyle is the best (city, suburban, country, vegan, Caribbean, South American, European, Central American, North American, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, etc.)? The answer in this case is either all of them, or mine is! Which culture makes the best food at potluck? Well… OBVIOUSLY that award goes to the _______. You can vote in the comments section on who wins the Haystack Award for best potluck.
Which language is going to be spoken in Heaven? Obviously Spanish, like every other Hispanic thinks. Obviously English with British accents to everyone else.
As far as what is permissible in church and in your own personal life, everything goes too. So whatever comes into contact with your five senses is good. Almost hedonistic in a way: everything that we see with our ears, ear with our ears, or feel with our hands is great.
This wholesale acceptance of culture has some serious side effects, though. If you think your race is the best, you’re kind of racist. If you think that your way of viewing the world is the only way there is, it makes you a poor missionary.
Looking at Scripture, wholesale acceptance of culture can either relegate the Bible to a big book of nice stories and poems used to talk to the culture of that day, or the other extreme is accepting the Bible wholesale and trying to live within the Ancient Near Eastern culture that the Bible was written in.
The problem with the former is that it robs the Bible of the authority with which to speak to the human condition. The problem with the latter is that it requires embracing such customs as polygamy, slavery, and perhaps holy kisses and veils for women in church. It also means putting an end to your days of wearing polyester (see verse quote on the left).
‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” –Leviticus 19:19
Let’s face it, everyone. Even Adventists tend to slip into the trap of thinking that their way of viewing the world is the best. Left, Right, and everywhere in between, it doesn’t matter. Each one will claim to speak as the voice of authority for all “true” believers. I’ll probably address why in a later post.
So, with all that said, what really is the best way to live? In my opinion, none of them. I believe that the best road to take as Christians living in culture is neither to reject, ignore, or accept. Rather, I want a fourth option.
Every culture has parts of it that need to be addressed because certain practices within it go against the principles that we find in scripture. Take our own country for example. I’ve always found the Thanksgiving-Black Friday season perplexing. So you’re telling me, people will literally trample each other to get things they want hours after claiming to be grateful for the things they already have?
Every culture has Sacred Cows that need to be addressed. Yet, as a friend of mine says, “Sacred cows make great burgers!” Engaging in culture and being able to evaluate it for the good and the bad (and contextualizing your own approach to it) is what I hope you will learn as we journey together.
A decade ago (maybe even longer than that!), there was a crazy fad about a group of teenage superheroes called the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The show’s plot hinged around a group of ordinary adolescents, but they could have access to power beyond themselves to become heroes for justice. They were still the same people but they fundamentally changed to be something bigger than themselves individually and collectively… with the help of giant robots, too…
It’s funny how the same word “morph” is found in Romans 12:2 where it reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed [the root word for “transformed” is morphoo”] by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I believe this is what God calls us to be. Yes, Power Rangers. Not rejects of culture, not ignorant of culture, and certainly not wholesale consumers of culture. Rather, we are called to engage and transform culture into what is “good, pleasing and perfect.” You may wonder, “How is that even possible?”
Here is one example:
This is what the Culture Clash series is all about. Transforming culture while engaging culture within culture.