The church has among its number some tribes who can only be called “despisers of culture.” The irony here is that these self-professed despisers of culture are among those most captive to it. That’s what this open letter is about.
How does one become a “Christian” despiser of culture?
First, you see the “world” only as a system of evil organized to tempt and trap believers from living godly lives. And the world of material creation as dispensable fodder for the destructive apocalyptic horsemen.
Ironically, the more you reject and shun the reality and “values” of the “world,” the more you open yourself to being shaped and conformed to it! You can’t escape it, you see. God never meant you to. Remember Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the tares? We mix together till God himself comes to do what only he can do: separate and judge which is which. God means us to engage the struggle with the spiritual powers that animate our culture but not to reject or shun their reality. Indeed, that can’t be done!
Second, you do not believe that “all truth is God’s truth.” Truth can only come through approved “Christian” channels. Fallen creatures are apparently completely unable to see, think, theorize, or articulate anything true. Only the Bible gives us the truth about everything in the world – science, management, diets, fashion, whatever!
Ironically, thinking that God has told us everything we need to do and how to do it infantilizes us. But God has made us to live freely and responsibly in the world, on “our own two feet” (C. S. Lewis) as it were. That is what obedience to God means and entails. To deny this and imagine God himself will or wants to tell us everything to do step by step is to treat him as the worst kind of “helicopter” parent!
Third, you are a dualist. At root, you believe that reality is divided into two realities. Call it mind – body or spirit – world, you think there is an inner, immaterial sphere of life that is “spiritual” and another that is material. The former is good, desirable, and eternal; the latter less important, deficient, perishable, evil even. “Christians” will value and give their time and energy to the former while denying and decrying the latter. Your patron saint is Plato (sadly followed by too many church leaders through the ages). Yes, that Plato, the Greek philosopher – he came up with this dualism.
Ironically, this dualism tends to make your deity “too small.” You do not take his role as Creator seriously (except as a guarantee in the pseudo-battle against evolutionism) nor can you really believe Jesus was truly one of us (except as a guarantee of the historical reliability of your inerrant Bible). Athanasius was wrong: what has not been assumed need not be saved. It’s your “spirit” or “heart” that is of eternal importance and value. Finally, this dualism imprisons the Spirit within your “heart” as your inner guide and assurance that you truly believe in God. Of course, you call the “heart” home for the Spirit and neither expect or want him to push you to involve yourself or be concerned about the “world” (because it’s going to hell anyway, see the first step above).
Well, more could be said. But this is enough for now. God, the biblical God, loves and intends to see his creation be all he meant it to be – a well-appointed home for him and his creatures throughout the ages. God’s truth in inscribed in and derivable from the reality of his creation and the human mind, though disabled by sin in regard to knowledge of God and how relate to God, is capable of discerning and using the truth it finds in creation. All truth is God’s truth no matter who discover it or passes it along. In every area of culture we are free to esteem and approve of goodness, truth, and excellence wherever we find it. Or, in other words, Thomas Kinkade is no Picasso!
Humans are embodied creatures for all eternity (with the possible exception of what happens between death and Christ’s return). Even Jesus keeps his body forever! Abandon Plato and take your bearings for the Creator God of the Bible who makes no junk to be tossed aside for something better! There is nothing better than to be created – except to experience it in full measure on a creation flourishing in abundance and beauty in intimate fellowship with the Creator who loves creation and creatures so much that he has done everything possible to reclaim and restore us and it from the effects of our own wayward rebellion.
There is no despite of culture in biblical faith. Despisers there are, at present, but your despite is in no way Christian or pleasing to the God who is our Creator and Redeemer!