"Many of our churches have created a subculture that is not built on the Word but on a comfortable lifestyle of yesteryear"

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Mike Harding's picture



Relevance is over-rated.  I agree that appropriate change should occur.  A culture of change for its own sake, however, is neither appropriate nor effectual in winning the lost to Christ.  There is an inherent connection between religion and culture.  The totalitarian nature of religious belief governs everything in one's life.  This is true for the Christian and the non-Christian alike.  For the Christian  ". . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31), "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23), and "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God . . . " (Col 3:17).  John Frame writes, "Everything in culture expresses and communicates a religious conviction: either faith in the true God, or denial of him" ("Christianity and Culture", p. 5).  Van Til says that "Culture is religion externalized" ("Calvinistic Concept of Culture", p. 29).  On the other hand some believers have adopted an evolutionary theory of culture.  Darwin claimed that "humans are the product of biological evolution, just as technology, the arts, and society were the products of cultural evolution" ("Descent of Man"). Marx agreed with Darwin and said that "human beings are, at root, socially created, neither good or bad" ("Cultural Anthropology", p. 229).  The concept that culture is basically neutral arises out of the idea of unilinear cultural evolution.



Pastor Mike Harding

Steve Newman's picture

If we replace it with the "comfortable Christian culture of today", aren't we in the same boat? I guess what he is saying, that others have been questioning, is that Northland is changing. Change doesn't have to be bad, but at least he is not saying there is no change going on....

Aaron Blumer's picture


What's unbiblical about comfortable and yesteryear?

OK, I'll grant that "comfortable" isn't the NT portrait of a disciple of Christ. But why is "now" better than "yesteryear"?

One reason: young people like "now" better. If you're running a college, it makes sense.  But then again, one of the things young people need help learning is that we're really not smarter than the people of yesteryear. 

(Also... young folks need help learning that ability to "be salt and light" doesn't depend on up-to-dateness. It comes from nonconformity--but deep nonconformity. Rom. 12.2)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Susan R's picture


I don't see a problem in changing where we have liberty to change. Some preservations of 'yesteryear' are little more than idolatry. As if people were more righteous in the past, or that it's more spiritual to shun technology than to find ways to use it to to further the Gospel. 

A woman who looks like Marion Cunningham will almost always be considered more spiritual, even if at home she's a witch-on-wheels.

The primary identifiers of Christianity should always be the fruits of the Spirit, and those character traits borne out of those fruits. IFBism in my experience still tends to be more about what we don't do and creating cliques based on shared prohibitions, than exhibiting virtuous behavior that is rooted in a deep love for the Lord and His people.

I think the fireman analogy was a pretty good one. You go into the burning building wearing protective gear, you don't stand outside yelling at people to come out and be like you. 

Mike Harding's picture

After a careful review of "Christ and Culture Revisited" by Carson.  One of my profs drew four conclusions regarding the Christian Church and its interaction with culture:


1.  Believers should courageously resist cultural practices that are intrinsically evil (explicitly unbiblical or by sound application of biblical principle).  Our culture, being the product of its own depraved religious values, will contain much of this worldliness.


2.  Believers should avoid cultural practices that are intrinsically good and even biblically sanctioned if they stem from and actively promote unbiblical and/or non-theistic values.  Again, we should expect that our culture, being the product of its own depraved values, will contain much of this worldliness.


3.  Believers should exercise humble constraint in their response to cultural practices that are intrinsically good and even biblically sanctioned if they might be perceived as promoting unbiblical and non-theistic values---particularly if that perception temps others to embrace those values and thus to sin (Rom 14:23).


4.  Believers may, however, adopt cultural practices that stem directly from common-grace values, recognizing in them the proper Christian significance that has been lost in their expression in secular society.

Pastor Mike Harding

mmartin's picture

Many of our churches have created a subculture that is not built on the Word but on a comfortable lifestyle of today.

And yet the "yesteryear" argument is by itself good enough to throw the Entire Baby out with the bath water AND take eight steps to the left when three would've been good enough.