Broadly speaking, I don’t like the Christian mentality that Christians must create Christian sub-cultures in order to be truly Christian. We have a sub-culture for everything. When people come into Church they have to learn a different language, change the way they dress, only read Christian books, start liking the organ, and limit their cinematic entertainment to Fireproof and Facing the Giants. Why? Because we must conform to the sub-culture that says everything outside the Christian sub-culture is evil at worst and dangerous at best.The above quote comes from C Micheal Patton and his post “Why I don’t Like Christian Music.” In it he talks of music and a lot more. The just of the discussion for me centers on why does everything need to be labeled Christian? Christian music, Christian books, Christian movies and shows, Christian whatever. Does taking something and placing Christian in front of it make it holy? The one I hate most is calling America a Christian nation. God never charged us to be a Christian nation, He wants us to be a nation of Christians! Which is more in line with God’s will? To conquer places, activities, and cultures and re-brand them as Christian or to be Christians in the midst of it all? Are we supposed to build Christian empires (Israel)? Or our we as the body of Christ to represent Him in and to the world?
We proclaim culture as evil, all the while building one of our own. Locked away behind all of our “Christian” we then wonder why we can’t reach the world for Christ. One of the biggest dangers I see in this, is that it leads to caricatures and stereotypes. The world doesn’t see us as individual Christians, it sees an image of a sub-culture, an institution. Then when someone or an organization that is the representative of the sub-culture fails or is embroiled in controversy, then “Its just those crazy Christians again!” The testimony is damaged for all because of the actions of one.
I know why these sub-cultures get started. It is for the sake of safety. If we confine ourselves behind walls of pre-approved activities and things, we won’t cross the line or have to think each thing out for ourselves. This area is acceptable. Come on in and relax. This is nice, but there are consequences.
One problem can arise when we begin to trust what has been labeled as Christian without discerning it for ourselves. We may begin to accept way too much. Not maturing in faith, but coasting along with it.
Another problem arises when a sub-culture environment has been trusted for a longer period of time, may be even multiple generations, we may begin to identify this particular culture with Christianity, mistaking the two. Then we proclaim Christianity as being and living in this and only this context. This corrupts the Gospel and leads to legalism. Adherents begin to look down their noses at any who may chose to live differently. “They obviously must not be saved,” is there reasoned analysis. This is not much different than the Pharisees, especially in regard to the Sabbath. The sabbath was a gift of rest and worship trusting in God for that day’s needs. The Pharisees twisted this and enslaved the people to the sabbath. What was meant to be a blessing, became a burden. Our Christian sub-culture or tradition,(the two are similar here), that was meant to be safe and comforting, then becomes the rule by which we must live. This is evident today with groups who focus on holiness as a style of dress, music, entertainment (or no entertainment), and whatever else that can be physically regulated.
Well I’ve rambled a lot. This isn’t an exhaustive look into the matter, just presenting some things to think about. Feel free to agree or violently oppose, all comments are welcome.
Before you leave check out this video. This guy does an outstanding job presenting some of these issues. Very thought provoking.