Theology and Culture

I define theology as a way to apply the truths of God to the human experience; the way God interacts with our humanity by His divine presence. I define culture as the influence in a society that shapes values, ethics, and paradigms. As a pastor I have observed the disconnect between what a person believes and how they live in society. It has been interesting to read all the “techniques” Christians have employed to make the message “relevant” to their friends and neighbors. 

It became very clear that this is no simple matter. It requires creativity, tension, paradox, and the Holy Spirit to be able to look at culture and the ways in which theology can address it and bring about the redeeming and life giving message of the gospel. The rise of the “nones,” those that identify themselves as having no affiliation to any religious group, should be of no surprise to anyone. My critique of the American Church is that we have become syncretized as a way to be relevant, trying to merge the sacred with the secular. It has failed, the proof is demonstrated by the rapid decline of the church in America.

We are challenged to hold true to a theology that is redemptive, joyful, and life giving without trying to make it appealing by mixing it with pop culture tricks and gimmicks. On the other hand, we need to embrace and challenge culture realizing there are elements that are life giving.

It was Karl Barth who said,

“We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”

We live in the world, we are not to insulate or hide ourselves from it. We live in the world as disciples of the one who is redeeming it. We have the opportunity to use our imaginations to present the gospel in a way that is heard and received. Let’s not be afraid to both embrace and challenge the culture with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Author: Bill Berger

Hi, my name is Bill Berger, Founder and Teaching Pastor at All Saints Church. I enjoy conversations with all who believe, doubt, and seek as it relates to God, Jesus, and religion. I am currently in a Ph.D program that is looking towards a Nomadic Theology tracing lines of flight for Pentecostal/Evangelical Church in Seattle. I am married to Sue, we live and work in Seattle serving the church we love, All Saints Church. We are always happy and grateful when we are spending time with our 4 children and their families, especially our 2 grandchildren! We are die hard Denver Broncos fans! It is always orange and blue in our house. We follow Oregon State Beaver Basketball, and hope that the Seattle Mariners make it to the World Series in our lifetime.

One thought on “Theology and Culture”

  1. Great blog Bill! I always appreciate outside the box thinking. It is a difficult today in Seattle or in life in general to find that balance between our relationship with God, our community and personal and professional relationship factors. It shouldn’t be I guess if we peel it back to the basics, but it still is. Appreciate you and keep sharing. You are making a difference.

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