Monday, December 05, 2016

1 Corinthians 11:4 (KJV) Christianity and Culture

1 Corinthians 11:4 (KJV)
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
Very frequently the subject of Christianity and culture comes to play in popular discussions.
No one questions whether Christianity is a culture, what they question is whether Christianity ought to influence or bend to other cultures.
The subject has been a big one and, in some respects, considered settled in the world of missions. Beginning, as I understand it, with Hudson Taylor, it has become the normal thing for missionaries to meld their faith into the popular culture of the area. Rather than conforming the converts of a field to the culture of the missionary, the missionary learns to adapt his message to the culture of the field.
This mentality seems to be increasingly obvious here in the United States as we shift to a non-Christian culture. More and more churches are expected to conform to the changes in societal culture. To refuse is to be legalistic and, worse, unchristian. Allow me to say that again. This post-Christian culture believes it to be non-Christian to refuse to adapt faith to their culture.
I don’t think this should surprise us too much given what was the great objection to Christianity in societies like China where Hudson Taylor ministered; they didn’t want the white God to change their way of life, their culture. Isn’t this also the huge attack leveled against missionary work among the Native American Indians over the last couple of centuries? Christianity changed their culture. I am part Native American.[1] When I first became a Christian I had some who tried to turn me from the faith. One was an old chief from the Tacoma area. He drew the Indian medicine wheel. Then he drew a cross inside the wheel and said, “The cross divided the Indian culture.”
What I notice in our text is that Paul didn’t consider the individual cultures of the many people groups he had already preached to and the many more God knew his message would reach. With something as seemingly innocuous as the length of hair a man and a woman wore, he gave a decisive instruction. It would be the same instruction regardless of culture.
I know that there are many cultural issues that are spiritual non-issues. But where the Bible is clear, our cultural preferences, no matter how important they may be to our heritage, ought to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit of God.
It is a controversial subject I know, but it is non-negotiable with God.
[1] I hear the politically correct title is now “Indigenous People.”

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1 Corinthians 11:4 (KJV) Christianity and Culture

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