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Impact Family Beliefs on Cultural Differences

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We think the Bible has a high regard for cultures and assumes that God created the diversity of people with their own unique customs, languages, expressions and worldviews. This does not mean that key moral truths are unique and relative, rather they are universal and binding upon all humans, especially when it relates to the essential matters of faith, ethics and the Gospel.

But sometimes those primary truths of right living can and are expressed differently in each culture. The way a Latino expresses “honor” for their parent may differ then the way an American or Asian person does. Yet both cultures believe that “honoring” their parents is virtues and proper due to God’s written law upon their hearts Exodus 20:11-13 Romans 2:13-15.

We think when God deals with human beings, He always contextualizes the revelation of Himself, so that we as human beings can understand Him. The incarnation of Christ ultimately demonstrates this reality. Paul the Apostle had great respect for the cultures he ministered to and even adapted his “methodology” so that the means of communication and trust could be more effective 1 Corinthians 9:19-21, Acts 17.

We think the church historically has struggled with this issue of contextualization and has at times transported a colonial type of Christianity to people of differing cultures, customs and languages. This failure can be seen in the American churches inability to reach the next generation of youth, as the statistics show a decline of church participation in mainline traditional churches.

This low level of respect for various cultures and sub-cultures, multiplied by our human tendency to be “ethnocentric” or “racist” has compounded the problem of disregard for the Gospel of Christ. The church as an institution has created unnecessary walls between her presence and the culture at large that is so high and irrelevant that people are hardly convinced that Jesus is still ALIVE, and living in His people.

The churches goal is not to be “politically correct”, like the false prophets of the Old Testament Matthew 5:11-13. But, in love we should aim to build bridges of trust and communication, so as not to create unnecessary walls and make the Gospel unpalatable and incomprehensible. The Gospel is good news for sinners searching for God and not the cultural baggage that is sometimes communicated as essential (circumcision, dietary laws, special clothing & music styles, etc).

The church today, like the apostles of the 1st century needs to take seriously the issue of “Christ in Culture” , “Logos becoming flesh”, as a missions and evangelistic posture and just being an authentic human who connects with a perticular culture (s). But, missions and cultural identification should never cause us to compromise orthodox doctrines, church practices and personal morality as taught in the full counsel of God’s WORD (Read Sermon on the Mount).

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