Culture & Theology

It’s that time of year again, and I find myself sitting in the opening sessions of the annual Pastor’s Conference for my part of the country.  Perhaps 150 other pastors sit in a large ballroom with me to listen to our District President update us on issues facing our District.  He is followed by a distinguished man preaching on the importance of holding in proper balance and tension the beauty of our God-given diversity and our commitment to theological unity.

It just struck me as unfortunate that pastors need to be told that someone doesn’t have to look and act like them in order to be a Christian.  Our commitment to the core Bibilical truths (as summarized in things like the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed) don’t require that we all do things the same way.  We don’t need to sing the same songs.  We don’t need to use the same instruments if we play the same songs.  While there is great value in historic liturgy and tradition, there is also great beauty as that history and tradition is adopted into a new culture, translated not just linguistically but artistically as well.

I am sad if this is where we are.  Where we have to be told that we don’t have to make people like us to make them Christian.  That we don’t have to – and indeed shouldn’t – confuse Christ and culture.  We can make decisions that don’t identically match what someone else is doing in another culture, but preaches the same Good News towards the same ends.  We can have unity and diversity and diversity in unity.  We can and we should.

I sorta figure that is what eternity is going to look like.

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