Origin of human culture

God created mankind, male and female, in His own likeness by endowing them with distinctive human faculties – rational, moral, social, creative and spiritual.  He also told them to have children, to fill the earth and to subdue it.  These divine commands are the origin of human culture.

Today we have lost our way.  All our work is accompanied by sweat and struggle and is disfigured by selfishness.

The affirmation that we are made in God’s image still stands, though the divine likeness has been distorted by sin.  I believe that God also is still looking to us to exercise stewardship of the earth and its creatures and that we still have our gift of inventiveness making us resourceful and successful in doing so.

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What is God’s view of culture?

For example, is Jewish culture created by God to be imposed on everyone who follows God?  Is there some indication in Scripture that God takes a different position?  Paul articulates his approach to cultural diversity —

 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews [for Christ]; to men under the Law, [I became] as one [a]under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might win those who are under the Law.  To those who are without (outside) the Law, [I became] as one without the Law, though [I am] not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the [b]weak I became [as the] weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means [in any and every way] save some [by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ]. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

The early Christians, who were Jewish, believed everyone who comes to Jesus must also convert to Jewish culture, but God used the apostle Paul, himself a Jew, to teach his generation and ours a different approach.  We find him arguing fiercely against the majority position of the early church for the right of Gentiles to follow Jesus within their own sociocultural contexts. God Himself had shown first Peter, then Paul and Barnabas, that this was the right way, by giving the Holy Spirit to Gentiles who had not converted to Jewish culture.

But the Church has continually forgotten the lesson. We have continually reverted to the assumption that becoming Christian means becoming like us culturally.

If, then, we take a scriptural approach, we should adapt ourselves and our presentation of God’s message to the culture of the receiving people, not misrepresent God as some early Jewish Christians did by requiring that converts become like them to be acceptable to God.

When Jesus wanted to get across important points, He aimed at the worldview level.  Someone asked, “Who is my neighbour?” so He told them a story and then asked who was being neighbourly.  He was leading them to reconsider and, hopefully, change a basic value deep down in their system. – Charles Kraft

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person [who insults you or violates your rights]; but whoever [a]slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other toward him also [simply ignore insignificant insults or trivial losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise].  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’  “But I say to you, [a]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:39,43-33

culture-malaysia

What is God’s view of culture?

Christianity and Culture

When Your Culture Clashes With God’s Kingdom

Christianity and Culture

Culture and The Kingdom of God

A Biblical View of Diversity

How does culture affect the way we understand Scripture?