Saturday, October 20, 2007
Cultural Christianity: A phrase that has been coined in recent years to describe the "phenomenon" where people who have never truly been born of God's Spirit, who have never had their souls divinely converted, or "born again" as Jesus describes, nevertheless refer to themselves as Christians and take upon themselves all of the promises and blessings and advantages of being a Christian, but simply because they have grown up in or participated in a "Church culture", of sorts, that does many of the things that genuine converted Christians do. These things include go to church, serve in various ministries, lead outwardly moral and socially acceptable lives, pray, read their Bibles, even evangelize, and yet at the core, they remain fundamentally unchanged in their spiritual condition. Their souls remain unconverted. They call themselves "Christians" and believe they are simply because its part of their culture but not because God has supernaturally transformed their souls and lives.
This is a recent interview given by Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary, with Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina. Hear what these two men say.
Mohler: You (Page) are in South Carolina, a very interesting part of the country. How do you deal with the "culture and Gospel" issue? Do you find that a challenge in South Carolina?
Page: I see South Carolina as the capital of Cultural Christianity which has lead many people straight to hell. It is an issue which most every one, almost every one is connected to some kind of church. We're the heaviest, highest churched area in the United States, and it has left people bereft of the Gospel of Christ; the power of the Gospel. It is something I battle everyday, Dr. Mohler.
Mohler: Well, I ask that not to pick at South Carolina because it's basically true of the entire South. Those who travel around the country as we do, we know it is a very different place. If you're up in the northwest of the United States, you're in Oregon or Washington state, you're talking to people who basically know they're not Christians, and yet so often when we come down to what has been called "The Bible Belt", we find people who think they're Christians because they're Grandmother was.
Page: That's correct.
Mohler: ...Or (they think) they're Christians because they've basically gone to church all of their lives, or they go twice a year, and I think that is a particular challenge to the Southern Baptist Convention to be very clear that we are a Gospel Church that is about seeing people converted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ believing that no one is born a Christian that everyone is born a sinner and all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved.
All of you who know me know that I have lived in South Carolina all my life. I have had no other place of residence as long as I've been alive, and yet surrounded by this Cultural Christianity all my life, surrounded by many, many merely professing Christians and even being one myself for a time, I knew something wasn't right even when I gave into the temptation to live like a pagan, serve myself, and consider myself to be "loving the Lord with all my heart." I fell into the trap, too. The description offered by these two men is serious. The two men in the quotes above are men who understand the situation. They understand the problem. As much as the modern/post-modern generation does not want to hear this, they have identified the problem with definition. They are not the type that will get up in front of a youth group and tell you all about how they "really felt Jesus while they drank Starbucks last night" or how they "challenged Jesus to show himself to them and he showed up in their room one night when they were seventeen." No, these guys are telling what the problem is and the problem is lies. Jesus Christ said that unless a man is born again or born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God let alone enter it. Is your soul truly changed? Do you hate the things that God hates and love the things that he loves or do you use the name Christian because all of the sociably acceptable guys and girls identify themselves with this title? This is of the utmost importance.
The sermon below is where these clips and the definition for Cultural Christianity came from. It's about an hour long, but after these clips, Kielar describes exactly what true repentance is. Please take the time to listen to it all the way through. It would be best to get away by yourself for an hour to listen to it and not be distracted. The message is hard, but I would much rather people that I care about hate me here for a while and then come to the truth, then for them to never come to the truth at all and be forever damned because I was more concerned with their carnal acceptance than their soul. I've been there. I know what it's like to search the land for truth and find nothing but water balloon fights and talk about who's winning the Masters when, instead, there should be genuine conviction and repentance. If you feel like no one else in the world desires that, remember, "God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah? how he makes intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed your prophets, and dug down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what says the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom 11:2-5)