What is Faith Culture?

“contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 1:3

Everyone is talking about culture.  There’s hardly an area of life, from politics to economics, where culture doesn’t promise an explanation for something we observe. Yet we don’t really know what culture is.

If we look it up, we find general definitions like “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.”  While this is of some help, it leaves us with more things to define.

The first place question raised by this definition is “Whose culture?”  We become aware of culture when it is someone else’s, but are often unaware of our own.

This is made more difficult because no one has “a” culture, rather we all have many.  As we encounter these cultures, we adapt to them and they to us, forming new cultures.

Certain broad traits about culture can be measured and understood, but our sense of it will always be a blurry and changing picture.

Faith is finished, but culture is always a rough draft.

Culture is different than faith.  Our experience with faith is greatly affected by culture, but the object of our faith is fixed.  That unchanging object is Jesus, God’s Son, and his life given for us (Heb. 12:2).

Here we encounter a challenge.  We need culture to relate to this faith “once for all delivered” (Jude 1:3).  That means faith and culture will constantly have to interact.

This is increasingly difficult because of how quickly culture changes.  In our technical, global world, we are constantly encountering other cultures to which we must adapt.

We have never faced this kind of changing cultural landscape.  In response, we have learned ways to cope, but are often unaware of how much adaptation we undergo.

Faith Culture is my attempt to find that line of separation between faith and culture.  This is not a call to go back to how things were.  That is not possible, nor would it be better.

Culture is the framework for faith, but we mistakenly assume our culture is the same as our faith.  Culture is changing, and it will change, but our faith must not.

Culture is part of God’s design.  It has operated within his plan from the beginning.  Now we need to understand that design and actively be part of it.

Without it, we cannot accomplish his mission in the world.

2 thoughts on “What is Faith Culture?

  1. Interesting comment "We need culture to relate to faith". I would see that as necessary if our faith was based on culture. However, our faith is based on the Word of God which is unchanging. Albeit, an argument could be made that the Word was written to address a particular culture. The question is whether the changing culture demands that the Word be changed to fit into the current culture? If that is the case then is the Word no longer infallible? I do not believe this to be the case. The bottom line is God's Word is truth. No matter what culture or environment a person(s) is/are in, God has given us a standard by which to live. That standard is to be applied to all cultures, past, present and future.

  2. John, you are right that our faith is not based on culture. But we do use cultural things to express and understand our faith.

    The message of the gospel is communicated through things that are understandable because they were part of a culture. They don't get their meaning from the culture, but God used those cultures to communicate their meaning to us.

    The word "relate" is essential. Culture is always changing, yet the foundation of our faith never changes. But that means the relationship between faith and culture must change too.

    We are not always aware of where faith ends and culture begins. We don't always have to be, but sometimes we start defending things that are cultural like they are Biblical. That's were we need to understand the relationship between faith and culture.

    Thanks for your pushback. It's exactly the kind of conversation I am hoping to have.

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