The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Theology of Culture Test
Match the quote below with the pastor/theologian who said it:

1. A church that regards such transformation as its primary goal may well miss its more fundamental calling to glorify God in preaching the gospel. Yet a church that minimizes the importance of its legitimate calling to cultural transformation may fail to do the full work of discipleship or of bearing full witness to the kingdom of God.

2. In addressing the question, "Is it the church’s responsibility to embrace or assume the civic responsibility of the state (e.g. education, the poor, social injustice, the arts, etc.)?", we need to consider the following. The church does not have any juridical authority in the city/state public square, but that does not mean that the Church ought to stay out in the periphery. The church does have the responsibility for acts of mercy and for engaging our community with acts of social justice (cf. Jas. 1.27). Paul states that "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Gal. 6:10). He is clearly referring to a deed ministry that should be shared with all people as they have need. . . . it is the church’s responsibility to pursue both public compassion and personal piety.

3. Combining these assumptions leads me to conclude that the church should focus on doing that which she is uniquely charged to do: guarding doctrine, preaching it boldly, and calling her members to live it out vigorously and practically in their communities. This excludes the church, as the church, from taking responsibility for the culture, though it does not exclude the church from changing the culture indirectly through the work of individuals. In fact, if a church is not expressing a Scriptural concern for those outside the church—leading and equipping her members to act—she is not preaching the whole counsel of God.

4. In my understanding, the local church is not free to do anything in Christ’s name that Christ himself—the King of the church—has not commissioned it to do. Preaching the Word, administering Baptism and the Supper, teaching, and providing spiritual fellowship and discipline receive clear mandates in Scripture . . . Now, as citizens of temporal kingdoms as well as the kingdom of Christ, believers are called to be husbands, wives, children, parents, employers, employees, voters, and neighbors in a variety of daily callings. In these vocations, they love and serve their neighbor. With no expectation that they are transforming the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of Christ, they nevertheless "aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] own business, and to work with [their] hands, so that [they] may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one" (1 Thes 4:11-12).

5. The task of the church is the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20)—to make disciples, teaching them "to observe all that I have commanded you." By God’s grace, we train believers in obedience. That obedience inevitably transforms culture, as it has done now for nearly 2000 years. Christians have made huge contributions to learning, the arts and literature, the treatment of women, the abolition of anti-biblical slavery, the care of the poor, the sick, the widows, and orphans. Sin, of course, has impeded our mission; but the grace of God working through his people has accomplished amazing things.

____ Michael Horton, professor at WTS, California
____ John Frame, professor at RTS, Orlando
____ Philip Ryken, pastor, Tenth Presbytian, Philadelphia (PCA)
____ Aaron Menikoff, elder and PhD student, Southern Baptist Conv
____ Steven Um, pastor, Citylife Presbyterian Church, Boston (PCA)

This is a self correcting test. Answers here.

Additional credit: Read Michael Hortons latest TKV screed here and related comments here and post a twelve word essay in comments below.