Culture vs Conviction

August 28, 2008

The church of Christ is at a crossroads.

More and more voices are questioning whether the teachings of the Bible continue to have authority in the postmodern world. A growing number of people argue that the world of today is much more enlightened than that of the early church, and therefore the teachings about what is sin and what is acceptable should be changed to fit our modern values.

The argument is made about an entire spectrum of topics. Do biblical teachings about the role of women apply today? Are biblical teachings about marriage, divorce, and remarriage still applicable? Is homosexuality still a sin? Is it still necessary to confine sex to the marriage relationship? In each of these topics, people are arguing that the biblical instructions should no longer apply. They hold that the church should change to accommodate permissive, progressive, postmodern culture.

A recent article in the Christian Courier laments The Erosion of Marriage due to mounting pressures to conform to the standards of our postmodern neighbors. It is shocking to read that someone speaking at a “Christian Scholars Conference” would take the position that

…the sexual regulations set forth in the Bible merely were cultural and the restrictions imposed in biblical times may be ignored in our contemporary, “post-modern” world.

Yet this should not come as such a surprise. For some years, people have been arguing for the abandonment of traditional, biblical teachings about topics like the role of women in the church. They claimed that the traditional teaching was a vestige of the distant past, and an unnecessary, unpopular burden for the church. Others objected that abandoning traditional teachings is a slippery slope. If we can eliminate one doctrine of the Bible because it conflicts with the consensus of modern society, why not another? But those advocating the change insisted that this was as far as it would go. Of course, it has continued to go farther and farther.

The church faces a choice. Will we teach a commitment to vivid otherworldliness, or will we become so much like the world that we will become irrelevant?


  1. Always good to know some are still seeking Christian unity.Abandoning scriptural truth just to be united will never work. There are things that just can’t be compromised, and that leaves us on a lonely road at times.Christian unity will only be accomplished when we slaughter our sacred cows that have no scriptural basis (that goes for all factions.) While some beliefs can’t be compromised, I find it difficult to believe that two churches rooted in the RM; one believing in one-cup, and the other in multiple cups, can’t offer each other their hand in fellowship!Approaching crossroads are normal in the Christian’s life…just sometimes scary.

  2. Alan,You probably will not be popular within the blogging world of the Churches of Christ for this post, but you make valid points. Thanks for exhibiting faithfulness and courage!

  3. Good blog, Alan. Even thought I do not completely agree with everything you post, your intent and thoughtfulness used in discussion is admirable.Going beyond simply teaching commitment would be more effective in combating the “progressive” philosophy. It seems that these philosophers tell us that biblical principles are outdated, yet cannot provide credible answers as to why we have what appears as so much more pain and despair. Their dominant answer to these consequences of sin seems to be no better than “it’s just fate” or “those things happen”. Emphasizing more on teaching how sin is deceptive and showing the cause and effect consequences would go much farther helping people than emphasizing merely the commitment aspect of Christianity.

  4. Jay,I agree to a point. But I think there are some things God commands that we are expected to obey even if we don’t see any obvious “cause and effect consequences.” It’s not sufficient just to obey the commands for which we understand and agree with the reasons. Obedience prompted by faith doesn’t have to see the reasons.

  5. Probably, we should not change that which the Bible teaches, but certainly can change how we approach certain issues.

  6. Alan,My point is simply the degree of emphasis between simply teaching commitment and teaching the cause/effect relationship as well. In no way did I say, or even imply in my response that I was advocating only obeying what I could understand logically. Too often, I have seen the cause/effect relationship ignored, or at least minimized. There is always an element of faith required in carrying out obedience. However, there is nothing wrong with exploring a reasonably exhaustive look at the logical consequences of sin. My contention is that the religious world in general is lacking in the practical teaching of cause and effect. This point of view should help enhance someone’s faith rather than it being threatened. If you (collectively, not personally) strive to understand as much as you can in a logical sense, then your faith can be directed more efficiently to only that which you do not see (understand) and for that you hope.

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