Cities are extraordinary places. It’s where the people are. 100 cities account for more than 30% of the world’s economy and almost all of its innovation. For the first time in history more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. I’ve spent time travelling to major cities in the world. It does not make me better. I’m just curious.
I’ve lived and worked in the United States for the past 13 years. I love the city of Austin. I love its music and mixture business, civic, education, entertainment and technical people. I love the life both day-time and especially at night-time. But like I said – I’m curious.
It seems to me that Jesus and Culture are in crisis. If Jesus if perfect and our Culture is man-made how can perfection interact with imperfection? Can the Christian faith be represented in non-cultural forms? No! I don’t believe it can. I’ll present you four views from the past 10 years and then ask a question.
First, Jesus has been represented opposed to our culture. Christianity has rejected any idea of cultural architecture in society. The problem with this is the false notion that sin lies in the culture itself. If we can escape the culture we can escape sin. But then I would no longer be an Englishman living in the United States. I would just be my social security number.
Second, Jesus has been represented as God of our culture. Everything Jesus taught harmonizes between society, our laws and conservation. Jesus is interpreted through culture. The problem with this is that Jesus is conformed into the image of who we want him to be. Jesus is no longer authentic.
Third, Jesus is above our culture. The struggle is not between Jesus and Culture but between Jesus and mankind. The problem is that sin is expressed through the culture but it does not make the culture wrong. One man has sex with another man’s wife therefore sex is a bad thing? One man gets intoxicated therefore drinking alcohol is a bad thing?
Forth, Jesus transforming our culture. Now this is what I agree with. Sin separates people from God. Since the first sin was ever committed God dramatically and relentlessly revealed himself through the history of mankind and their successive cultures. This ties in to Austin. When I’m downtown on 6th street I thoroughly enjoy the music, people, food, conversations, laughter and learning.
Here’s my question. Can a church come from the culture of 6th street without religion changing it? But instead, allowing Jesus to transform it?
I think so.