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Discussion Questions: Christianity and Culture

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by Porpoise, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. Porpoise

    Porpoise Member

    United States
    Let's just explore some questions and see where they will lead us, to see what we can learn.

    "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

    1. What are some of the values of the country you live in? Where did these values come from, historically? What has shaped your nation to hold these beliefs, values, and ways of life?

    2. Looking into the past, were the values and ways of life of your country ever different in some ways from what they are now? What were some of those differences? What contributed to the change in values? Do you think the values of that time were better or worse than they are now, or just different?

    3. How might a Christian of that past time period understand and practice Christianity differently?

    4. In what ways do you think the culture you live in influences Christians? Are some of these influences good or bad? Could Christians of your culture have anything to learn from looking into the past, or from other cultures of the world?

    5. Has anything surprised you or stood out to you from exploring these questions? Is there anything you would like to discuss?
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  2. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Hi, Porpoise :) I am Bill :)

    God bless you :)

    I live in the United States. My impression now is that different people are representing past American culture differently, depending on how they want me to see the United States and how they want me to vote and what I will expect from governing authorities.

    Ones claim American started out as a Christian culture; but my impression is it was in name, but not necessarily in all-loving love like Jesus on the cross.

    So, part of not conforming to this world might include not going along with worldly representations of America's past, making it out to be what it was not.

    And do not depend on the government for the change which is needed. In the past, various cultural ways have come and gone, in American government, including surface Christian acting which was not enough to maintain itself on to future generations.

    Laws and reforms can't turn people into all-loving people who are pleasing to God. We need how God changes us in our hearts so we do not depend on this world to act nice.
  3. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

    United States
    You've asked some big questions. I'll start with an answer to a small piece.

    The most prominent value of American culture that leaps to mind is individualism. We value the individual above all: Individual achievement, individual responsibility, wariness of trusting any authority beyond ourselves.

    This probably came, at least in part, out of our history of Europeans uprooting themselves from their countries and families of origin and migrating here to start a new country in a New World that was fashioned to their own specifications.
    Individualism influences American Christianity in at least these ways:

    1) Baptist and Evangelical Christianity -- both very popular in the US -- emphasize the importance of each individual person making their own commitment to Christ. There are sermons mocking the idea that a person could be Christian just because they belong to a particular family or church -- in other words, just because they are part of a particular community. The individual's own commitment is what's important.

    2) The rise of nondenominational Christianity. I've realized from listening to nondenominational Christians on CF that a lot of what's going on is not wanting to trust any human authority -- including church leaders of the present and theologians of the past -- on matters of faith.

    3) The abundance of home-grown American Christian denominations and offshoots. Latter-Day Saints, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ -- they're all ours. (Please don't take offense if I've just listed your group among some other groups you don't like. I know this is a list of diverse groups. I only mean that these groups originated in the US. I'm making no judgments on anyone's orthodoxy.)

    4) Attitudes toward the poor: The notion of individual work and responsibility is good, in that we work hard, and our society allows talented people to climb the social ladder, even if they come from an impoverished background or a minority ethnic group. The dark side of this is that when someone is poor, we tend to be very suspicious about helping them. There's that thought in the back of the head that the poor person must not be working hard enough, that really it's each person's individual responsibility to help themselves.

    5) Ironically, I think the individualism also helps fuel our liberalism on some social issues. Some of the American churches were on the cutting edge of women's rights in the past and are on the cutting edge of LGBT rights now, because we're willing to throw off tradition and authority to do what we think is right.

    I note that with #4 and #5, individualism is fuel for both social conservatism and social liberalism.

    Those are some of my thoughts. It probably would benefit us as Americans to experience some more communally-oriented cultures of the world, as a check on our individualism.