Scott Hodge


Cultural Christianity

May 9, 2005

Dan Kimball has a blog.  It’s a couple of months old and I’m glad I found it (thanks Jordon). 

In a post dated March 18th, he shares about a book that he is in the process of writing entitled: They Like Jesus, but not the Church (don’t you just LOVE that title??). 

In his book (and post), he shares a very interesting quote from Moby:

"In my own strange way, I’m a Christian, in that I really love Christ, and I think that the wisdom of Christ is the highest, strongest wisdom I’ve ever encountered, and I think that his description of the human condition is about the best description or understanding of the human condition I’ve ever encountered. And although I try and live my life according to the teachings of Christ, a lot of times I fall short. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a Christian in the conventional sense of the word, where I go to chuch or believe in cultural Christianity, but I really do love Christ and recognize him in whatever capacity as I can understand it as God. One of my problems with the church and conventional Christianity is it seems like their focus doesn’t have much to do with the teachings of Christ, but rather with their own social agenda. So that’s why I tend to be sort of outspoken about how much I dislike conventional cultural Christianity."
-Moby, from the Animal Rights Interview CD

What a quote.  It sounds so familiar to me.  The attitude that says, "I love Jesus, but I can’t seem to connect with ‘cultural Christianity’." 

Oh wait, I know…  The reason it’s familiar to me is because I so often find myself feeling the same way – which is why I am so encouraged when I stand back and see what is happening all over the world.  It seems like churches are becoming more intentional than ever about becoming faith communities that do a better job at reflecting "Jesus" culture – and less of  a man-made modern "church" culture. 

The other option (which so many choose) is to ignore people who think like this (which would be a travesty – especially considering that Moby’s thinking so clearly represents the thinking of our emerging culture.) 

Pastors/Church Leaders – let’s hear from you.  What are you doing in your church to create an environment where our cultures do a better job at representing Christ more so than "cultural Christianity?"

6 Responses to “Cultural Christianity”

  1. I’m not a pastor, but I’ll make a statement or two. I think Paul pointed out a line that we would do well to watch. On the one hand, Paul said he was “all things to all people.” Does this include bending over backwards to attract people to church? Well, as long as “bending over backwards” doesn’t involve anything contrary to the spirit of the gospel, sure, by all means! Let’s get the people in, who would never have come in before. Evangelism, by any and every means necessary! Why not?
    On the other hand, Paul warned about people having “itching ears.” In this process, let’s not become a church that simply caters to people who are distrustful of authority; let’s not just preach whatever people “want to hear.”
    I may not have answered your original question, but as I said, I’m not a pastor myself, so I’m not really in a position to comment. :-)
    Be well!

  2. Brian says:

    The funny thing is, I always seem to hear the itchy ears comment. You know, it’s not about trying to create some place to attract people by giving them what they want or telling them what they want to hear. That’s so not it.
    It’s about living out the things you teach. It’s about seeing the way Jesus lived his life. Seeing the way the disciples lived together. Then applying that to your life today. We still teach biblical truth. We still teach pre-marital sex is damaging to your spirit, it’s not just a physical thing… but a spirit thing… and because God loves you and wants to protect you, he designed it for the confines of marriage. We still teach, truth is truth, and God

  3. Hi, Brian! The itchy ears comment wasn’t meant, by any means, to be an indictment. I think the reason it might come up in this sort of discussion is that it’s a real danger, in any church, mainstream, denominational, or otherwise. Paul took it seriously, I think we need to also.
    To all your other comments, you have my complete agreement. It is all about people, that’s who we’re here for; you’ll get no argument from me there!

  4. Bill R. says:

    I’m not a pastor, either, but do have a ministry with people who come from addictions, prison, abuse, neglect, etc. The ministry used to be me going to preach at them in the facilities where they lived. They are of a variety of denominational backgrounds, which I found to be the biggest obstacle to sharing the love of Christ. These folks (and me too often) are so hooked on following the teachings of their pastors that they cannot get past the doctrinal disagreements to reach a point of accepting that Christ died for and God’s grace applies to each of us. So now they come to my home twice each month. We have a study guide in 1 John, we open the Bible and we roll. Fur flies, voices raise, but at the end of the night, we walk away as brothers and sisters in fellowship with God and one another through Christ. It ain’t church, but it’s Christianity. And we’re all growing.

  5. laura says:

    What do we do to represent Christ rather than cultural Christianity? Honestly, we’re a fairly typical evangelical church, so often I simply try to help our people SEE and understand the walls that divide traditional church from the outside world. Many of them have been in church so long they don’t even realize why the word “evangelical” grates against a lot of people.
    Then I think the most fruit we’ve seen in drawing people back to Christ the person is through relationships…people seem to be “getting it” that this is about Christ, his character and purpose, much more when they see Christ lived out in the lives of others. Seems too simple, but that is more effective for us than programming in helping people get it.
    We have a long road ahead in getting past “the way we’ve always done it” here, but it’s fun to help the people who are open to think outside the box and take steps of faith to try new things. I pray that someday they’ll help tip the rest of the church toward a fresh look at Christ and his dream for us…

  6. Joel says:

    Wow, that’s fascinating. I was curious if Moby was a Christian (or maybe more pointedly, Christ-follower), he has quite an insight into the way a lot of us Christians feel about our own ‘Christian’ culture. Maybe Moby (ironically) has more practical wisdom for the Church than many prominent figures in modern-day Christianity.

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