Keeping the Faith in the Dark Night of the Culture
Session 1 Notes
- Even flourishing Christians puzzle over the nature of cultural engagement. What does it mean to engage the culture?
- Cultural activism
- Not just about evangelism
- The darkness of the culture causes Christians to despair.
- Can cause Christians to retreat to “comfort”
- Pulling out doesn’t get us away from the culture, it only weakens us. The culture will take over the ground we leave.
- Engaging culture does not inhibit salvation of souls; rather, it helps it.
- The main goal of the church is the expression of love—thus bringing others into the fold, not “soul harvesting.”
- Mercy is our motivation, not a “soul quotient,” – love is the message.
- Renewing the culture is not just a means of conversion—though the two do go hand in hand.
- Godly cultural institutions are “pre-evangelical”—one thing leads to another.
- Say not “if the culture came to Christ, it would be renewed,” but “if the culture were renewed, it would come to Christ.”
- The culture is hopeless in a Christian sense, tempting us to lose hope with them.
- Don’t think you’re too small to do something.
- Don’t exaggerate your cross; don’t make your burden out to be more than it is; don’t create drama.
- Don’t belittle your cross—don’t be ashamed of being un-persecuted—for suffering less than others.
- Remember God’s reassurance.
- The church can’t make everything go right, it’s job is to simply do the right thing.
- God has not promised us we will dominate the culture, He commanded us to love. He hasn’t promised us
, He promised us Himself. America
- “One Christian is no Christian” – never try to bear your burden alone.
- Christ bears your cross with you
- Other Christians bear your cross with you—bearing each other’s burdens.
- The light of Christ illuminates the culture, not the church.
- It’s not always Christians blatantly “evangelizing” apathetic listeners—take what you can get. Stay relevant, stay real. Follow their interest, don’t always push for instant conversion, have faith in God rather than just yourself. Begin where they are, don’t push them further than they’re willing to go.
My Thoughts and Reactions
The paradox of truth – the more we know, the less we know we do; the more we understand, the less we know we can comprehend; the closer we get to God, the more we realize the distance; the more we learn of Him, the greater His mystery.
That unknown is our comfort—what is the power of a God who is on our level? With our obvious flaws, our short sight is an accolade, for God’s greatness is blatantly beyond us, giving us the possibility of hope and faith.
To pull out of the culture is to destroy one’s ability to understand (and thus, interact with) the culture, crippling our evangelistic efforts. To change the cultural mindset is to make one more receptive to evangelistic messages. The evangelism-only focus of the modern church is nearly self-defeating. A world who sees us as being without a purpose will reject what we have to say without consideration.
The nature of love is to share itself, a want of mercy brings only the question as to the sincerity of one’s own salvation.
God draws us to Himself, we don’t need to do the pulling, only the presentation, lest we attempt to take the place of He whom we serve.
Renewal brings about Conversion, it isn’t a by-product of it. Like salvation, transformation brings about conversion. We must keep our focus on the key, lest we undermine our own efforts.
Cultural influence is the macrocosmic variation of personal salvation—inward reformation comes before outward transformation.
To turn all our attention to the conquest of the culture is to lose sight of the ultimate reason that we act. When the culture passes away (as all cultures are destined to do), with it dies our purpose, and we despair.
Separating yourself is spiritual suicide, alone we lose our selfless focus and thus forfeit our purpose.
We can’t become too enamored with ourselves, only Christ reforms and saves, lest we lose our souls to our own supposed deistic importance. Our battle is with the self, not the culture—log before the speck.
Reformation follows a pattern: Individual>Church>Culture
The transformation of Christ reaches all, our own necessity to Him is limited. We must always know our place, lest we forfeit our purpose.
Christianizing a thing doesn’t make it good. Poorly executed “influence” is more a hurt than a help, it can even be crippling to our efforts.
Tolerance = good judgment, “live and let live” as opposed to universal acceptance