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My title is ambiguous. 

Winding-up can mean bringing something to an end. It can also be energizing something, such as winding up an old-fashioned clock. 

I intend both meanings. I want to bring this current series to an end – at least, a pause; and, I want to energize you about what you’re learning. Let’s deal with the second of these first. 

Energizing

I have come across some resistance during this series on “Christ and Culture.” I want to briefly address two of these points. 

First, when I have asked some people whether their culture is good, bad, or neutral, they often say their culture is neither good nor bad – just neutral. I ask them why it cannot be a combination of good and bad. I also ask what they mean by neutral. Second, are those who have told me that God is not concerned with culture at all. Both of these positions begin to break down when people become more aware of the diversity and scope of culture in all areas of life

In simple terms, culture is the shared beliefs, values, and practices of a particular group of people. This includes such things as language and clothing; how we view and treat people; and, how we understand and relate to God. All of these aspects of culture can be good and bad. 

For instance, language can be used to communicate beneficially and, when distorted by sin, it can be used to demean people and blaspheme God. Honor (as in honor-shame cultures) can draw people to Jesus Christ or, when distorted by sin, it can cause people to harm others – which I experienced first-hand in a bombing.  

How can these issues energize you? 

Culture is a great key to understanding what makes people ‘tick’. If we grasp how their dominant culture responds to sin then we can communicate the remedy for sin through the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that resonates with them and their culture. This concept was introduced in the post “Cultural Awareness for More Effective Evangelism.” Hopefully, this begins to energize you as you discover aspects of the Gospel you have ignored that open doors to speak with people from other cultures such as your Muslim workmate or neighbor. 

Awareness of your own culture also gives you a better insight into what makes you and your neighbors ‘tick’. Again, it expands your understanding of human thought and behavior in a way that can be used to impact others for Jesus Christ. 

Below, I summarize the posts on Christ and Culture so you can read them again, or for the first time, and become energized to see ways in which you can build bridges with others in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Engaging

Before providing some helpful new resources on culture, let me quickly survey what we have covered in this series. 

Some of you are recent members of living theology and may not have engaged with this series from the beginning. Others of you may want to re-read all or some of the posts for “Christ and Culture.” If you want to subscribe to living theology you can do so here and receive helpful free resources.

So, here are the posts in order with a summary of each.

1.      From Ringing Bells to Wringing Hands

This series was triggered by my legal-social analysis of a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision. A legal scholar who shared this post on LinkedIn provided a spoiler alert. I advocate moving from wringing hands to ringing true – that is, living genuinely for Jesus Christ within your culture. 

2.      Christ and Culture: an introduction

This post introduces the participants (God-Christians-Culture) and their mutual interaction wherever and whenever we live.

3.       3 Things to Keep in Mind about People

The three things are absolutes shared by every human: created in God’s image and therefore ‘wired’ for God; imperfect (the image has become distorted or corrupted); and, a sense that there is something more (life is not as it could be). What bearing does this have on different cultures?

4.      Who is the God of All Cultures? 

Despite the distorted views of all cultures about “god,” there is one true God of all cultures who self-reveals himself as Jesus Christ. 

5.      A Short Exploration That Will Help You Understand Culture 

A hypothetical case study of identical triplets representing three different dominant culture types. This post also identifies some forces that make a culture and provides some definitions of culture. 

6.       A Key That Will Unlock Some of the Mysteries of Culture 

This post describes the three dominant culture types and some of their features. 

7.       Cultural Awareness for More Effective Evangelism

How can the Gospel speak into each dominant culture-type? This post is meant to push you out of your cultural niche and realize that the Gospel is great enough to speak into every culture – no matter how different from yours. 

8.      I was on my way to the temple when … 

An illustration of how a culture was engaged by Peter and John in Acts 3-4. 

9.      4 Dynamics of God Toward Culture

With extravagant generosity and grace, God is active in every culture

Ending

Winding-up can mean bringing something to an end. I will probably return to the issue of culture, so I simply press the ‘pause’ button for now. Feel free to write to me here about your thoughts on culture – your successes and frustrations. 

There is so much more we could deal with on the issue of culture. For now, let me leave you with a couple of links that I found helpful. 

The first link is a thoughtful interview with Tim Keller by Trevin Wax called “Gospel, Culture, and Mission: An Interview with Tim Keller.” This interview centers around Keller’s book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. Keller has some great insights. Keep in mind that he lives and serves in Manhattan and this has certain limitations – but it is worth the read. 

In Center Church Keller proposes four common ways Christians can relate to Culture: transformationist, relevance, counterculturalist, and two kingdoms. Again, this has certain limitations, but I find it more useful than the categories in Richard Niebuhr’s classic, Christ and Culture. This brings us to the second link: “Four Models of Cultural Engagement According to Timothy Keller” by Anthony Burgess.

In this article, Burgess summarizes and critiques each of the four models proposed by Keller. Burgess writes of the “church” engaging culture, whereas I would advocate followers of Jesus being the medium or catalyst for culture engaging with Christ – but that’s me. Again, a post worth reading. 

With that, I push the ‘pause’ button on this series “Christ and Culture.” If there is sufficient interest, we can push ‘play’ and examine more of this rich and profitable subject.

How has this series on Christ and Culture equipped and encouraged you? You can contact me here.

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Photo credit: Visual Hunt

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