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The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Good Work and Christian Culture
Are truly good works possible in this life?

How one answers this question has a profound bearing on how one views the possibility of Christian culture.

Here is an example of "good-work" and cultural pessimism from Gene Veith:

"There can be no such thing as a Christian culture as such, because Christianity comes from faith in the Gospel, not the works of the Law, and God saves individuals, not nations. Not every member of a culture is going to be a Christian. Since conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to coerce or require anyone to become a Christian. The unregenerate cannot obey biblical principles so as to be part of a Christian culture. Neither, while they are in their fallen flesh, can Christians."

Here is an example of good-work and cultural optimism from Calvin Seerveld (via Gideon Straus):
"[C]reaturely life is what the Lord wants redeemed (cf. e.g. Psalm 50, Matthew 6:7-15, especially verse 10); saving persons for bearing obedient fruit in all facets of our existence is what the Holy Spirit was given for after Christ ascended into heaven (John 16:5-15, 1 John 2:27); the world-wide ministry of reconciling everybody, everything, back to God out of the shaping grip of idolatry is what Christ's body is logically to be busy with here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Romans 11:36-12:2), says the Scriptures. In old-fashioned language, I am talking about sanctification that is gritty and concrete. Not as a chore in work-righteousness. Not as a means to a guaranteed millennium on a stipulated timetable. But as the normal, happy task of God's trusting people who are eager to be claiming the riches of God's straightening-out gifts, embodying that insight and joy, showing all that the Rule of Jesus Christ begun is a Rule of understanding, love and shalom - that's enough to make almost anybody jealous of also belonging as adopted child to the Lord of heaven and earth (cf. Romans 11:11-16).

Two very different takes on the work of the Holy Spirit and culture.