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The Church and Culture

Updated on March 4, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Most Bible scholars acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures were written when male dominance prevailed in every aspect of life- pg. 87

When I was an undergrad student, one of my professors, whom I liked, made the statement in class, “That was the culture of that time”. He was, of course, referring to one of the many passages of scriptures modern people reject because cultural practices had changed over time.

This view that the Bible was influenced by secular culture has not diminished over the decades and as you can see by that quote, it stays strong today. The accusation that the Bible was culture was culturally influenced is not an accurate view to take.

The Many Problems of a Culturally Influenced Bible

There are a lot of problems that come up when believers and unbelievers take the view that the Bible was written under a certain cultural influence that dominated the world at a given time in history. Here is a look at those problems.

#1. People Want What They Want

In this problem, culture becomes the justification for demanding changes to certain biblical passages. It also becomes the go to excuse when people do not want to obey God anymore.

The idea that certain passages of scripture are culturally influenced allows modern believers, etc., to live their life as they please and ignore God’s instructions. They get to do and pursue what they want instead of humbly obeying God’s instructions

#2. Culture becomes omniscience

Instead of God’s words bringing the light to a dark world, the dark world is bringing information to the light. Also, God is seen as incapable of constructing the operating apparatus of his church and must use secular unsaved, blind and deceived ideas to guide his church.

Culture then becomes god over the Bible and pushes God out of the picture. Also, it makes the Bible a completely human book and not divine holy words sent to us by God.

#3. Leadership is Lost

While this happens with male leadership of the church, once you open the door to false ideas, then the leadership gets infected and starts to teach and lead people to the wrong doctrine and information.

Leadership has no moral foundation as that has been undermined by the lack of integrity found in the Bible by having a culturally influenced scripture. No man can say ‘The Bible says...’ because the Bible may not have said it in the first place. The passages may have been culturally altered.

A Major Problem Arises

When professors, Bible Scholars, preachers, and so on say the words “That was the culture of that time...’ They open the church to a major problem. The Hebrew culture was not the only only ancient culture in existence at the time of the writing of the different books of the Bible.

Even if they were not known, and that is hard to accept given the Minoan and Phoenician sailing prowess. There were still previous known cultures and current ancient cultures that held differing views on how life should be led.

Plus, with the intervening years since the Bible has been put together, thousands of cultures came into and went out of existence. Once the Bible has been translated and translators tell the new cultural believers that certain [passages are culturally influenced, then we have another problem.

Which culture should the new cultural believers use? The myriad of their own ancestral cultures or the Middle Eastern ones which they have no knowledge of or the modern ones which missionaries and Bible translators have brought to their lands?

The Choice is not an easy one especially since all human cultures are not greater than each other. The subjective use of a culture would wreck more havoc on the church and the believing world. Which culture would be the ultimate guideline for believers to follow?

God is not the Author of Confusion

The Bible tells us that or is that a misuse of the passage because it comes from the same culture that wrote those passages of scripture modern people do not like? If you believe the Bible, then you would accept those words as coming from God and that he would not let his followers be confused.

There can be only one culture that would have direct influence on the Bible and it would not be one of the many human ones found throughout history. If God let one human culture rule his Bible, that would probably start too many fights in the church and cost God souls.

One nation would reject the biblical interpretation made by another nation’s cultural thinking their own culture to be superior to another nation’s. The division in the church would be too great to solve as everyone would be fighting for their own culture to be superior in biblical work.

The Culture of That Time

There is only one culture that produced the Biblical words. It was not the Hebrew culture, nor was it the Roman, Assyrian, Babylonian or even the American cultures that influenced the words of the Bible.

The culture where all the words of the Bible came from was God’s culture. God has his own kingdom and He has his own rules for his followers to adhere to. God also started the Church thus it operates under God’s rules and not man’s.

God is not influenced by secular cultural practices. Instead he has issued his rules for his people to follow. His words, The Bible, influence secular culture, not vice versa. If it was the reverse, then we are saying that secular culture is superior to God and his ways.

The Bible is influenced by God alone.

Some Final Words

The term, ‘the culture of that time’ are words that undermine the authority of the Bible and leads all people away from the truth. Culture had nothing to do with the passages of scripture we read in the Bible today.

It couldn’t have for culture is an inanimate object prone to sinful influences and corruption. It offers people nothing eternal nor is it holy, fair or just. The Bible comes from the only Holy God who knows how he wants his people to live.

It is up to us to humbly choose to obey his words correctly

© 2019 David Thiessen

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