A Clash of Cultures
I have been wondering… How do I engage in conversation with people, within the culture that I live in, who have a different view of what God and truth are than I do, without clashing with them and their cultural view?I wondered, is that possible?
Here’s more questions, like, what is the culture that I live in; how do I define it? What is the engine that drives our culture’s way of thinking? What is the mindset that governs our culture? So many questions. Too many questions…!?
My brains a bit fried
But still, let me try
To work through this…
When it comes to defining our own present cultural types, there are 3 or 4 primary ones that we can choose from: the 1st cultural type is called a theonomous culture, which when broken apart is theos; meaning, God, and nomous; meaning, law. That culture is a culture governed by God, subject to God’s authority. It is a culture that has his law written in its heart.
American culture in its beginnings, in limited ways, was a culture governed by God’s law. Back then the framers of our Constitution also defined God’s governance as “natural law”, as in, ”We believe these things to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” We, in our beginnings better accepted the laws of God, and his natural law. We wrote them in our documents and chiseled them on our monuments. It was a rock upon which to build our culture. That rock, nowadays, is crumbling. We, as a culture, are not now yielding to the rule of God. We, instead, are in rebellion against His rule. Culturally our hearts are in another place.
The 2nd culture type is called a heteronomous culture. Hetero; meaning another, nomous; meaning law. It is culture governed, by “another” lawgiver, other than God, another, separate, chosen one and/or few who rule from the top. A Fascist dictatorship, an oligarchy, and the Prophet Mohammed are a few examples of that type of culture. The masses are governed by the few. The few who are in power dictate the cultural laws and mores to the many.
Our 3rd cultural choice is an autonomous culture. Autos; meaning self, nomous; again meaning law; Self-law, which means each person dictates their own moral law. Each one self-determines what is right and what is wrong. Autonomy is the engine that drives American culture. Our culture preaches to us and reinforces within us, that within the Self there is the only god that we need to discover. Within us is all the power we need to define and achieve whatever we choose to believe. We just need to learn how to tap into it. The new “spiritual” bent of our culture now days is narcissistically autonomous. It’s all about Me discovering the Source of truth within me. And once I discover it, I can define it (or redefine it if necessary), I can tap into it, and make it work for me.
A 4th cultural type of rule for U.S. is Democranomous (dim mock’ ran no muss) [New word, not in the dictionary! ] : Law by majority rule. You know… Democracy: A majority defines and determines the law that rules. [Nowadays we call ourselves a Democracy. And we’re proud of it. We used to be a Representative Republic. What happened?]
Our systems of governance in our culture today only work if those who have the power of governance are God-governed. Apart from being governed by God, we are left with the competing clash of those who, without a solid foundation, are continually redefining the systems and enforcing what the rule of law is for the remainder of us.
What we end up within all of this is a cultural clash: law by majority rule is in competition with governance by the privileged few, which in turn is in competition with law as it is defined and determined by [sing it]: “Me me me meee…”.
The Autonomous culture that we live in today creates this conundrum: Everyone’s truth is defined by, and for, themselves. There is no objective truth. Truth is subjectively defined by each person within the culture. So we live “our own truth” and let others live theirs, and we all do our own thing. If things get difficult we may switch to a competing cultural definition. If we can’t agree on a thing, then… Majority rules. Let’s vote on it: We win. You lose. Done. Or maybe we switch to a dictatorial/Heteronomous cultural mode, as in, “What I [or we the chosen few who have the power] have chosen for you to believe is what you now must believe. Or else!”
Or, some may desire to see a return to the Theonomous cultural mode, “Believe what God and the Bible said. You must believe. Or else…” How’s that working for us? Us trying to force a secular rebellious culture to be under God’s rule because, after all, that is how it ought to be.
Or, we do this instead: We can become a counter-cultural people! This I think, is the best way we can engage our culture and cause it to desire Gods culture: We model it. We become one people, one family, the Family of God, which he has adopted, separated from this world, and gathered for his purpose. We become a people who understand his divine purpose, who have been won over by the love of God, who are acknowledging and walking in the light of truth as it is being revealed by God. A people who have learned how to walk as Jesus walked, accepting the leading of the Spirit and the will of the Father. When we, who truly are His, are built together like that by the Master Builder, we will shine as God’s light, as His antidote for a darkened and confused culture.*
*[Also check the asterisk (*) below: Followers of Jesus have actually been called to be part of a new culture, a Counter Culture, which is radically different than the above cultural systems. God’s Kingdom Culture is His alternative to the broken cultural choices that we have in our world today.]
What we have today is a messy blend of these 4 in our culture. Autonomy believes the Individual is god, Democracy believes the Majority is god. Heteronomy believes our gods are the Few. Theonomy now days is our fading God. We today as a culture have replaced God’s rule. Because of that, we are left with the “Chosen’s” view, whether they be the many or the few, of what our culture is supposed to do.
Listen to the “New [Culture] Speak” on how we are to think and speak:
It starts out well but ends badly. “Be inclusive. Be tolerant of all views.(Unless it doesn’t agree with the Majority view.) We took a poll. Speak only what the majority has determined to be true.
Be inclusive. Be tolerant of all views. (Unless it doesn’t agree with a view of the Chosen Few. Speak only what the Few have determined to be True.
Be inclusive. Be tolerant. Love all views. (Until it doesn’t agree with Mine.) Unless you agree with me, I’d rather that you did not speak. Agree with Me or silent be.”
Speaking through the filter of the words of the God of Truth which people of faith believe in, is not in the New Speak equation: don’t even talk about That.
We are being force-fed a New [Culture] Speak: So bite the Apple: Or else!
Allow me to confess, we are all in a mess because our first parents did bite the Apple!
Let me also confess this: that as an individual I believe in God’s law, in God’s word and His self-evident natural law (What goes up [a ladder] must come down [a ladder], right?). While I can’t dictate to the “Autonomous You”, that they must believe what I do, I will accept and love them even while we must disagree. At the same time, if they are truly autonomous (inclusive and tolerant of all views), they should be accepting of others right to believe differently and, at least, listen. The lines of communication should remain open, a thing difficult to do as we come to realize that our cultural ideals are at war.
In today’s culture if someone tries to communicate God’s truth from a position of faith, to a world conflicted by, or at war with that truth, is the right to speak still acceptable in our world?
Barely, barely (I say unto you). The freedom to exercise that right is decreasing… But give me a chance if I may, let me try to exercise my faith:
I believe that God has given us his new covenant, his new rules to follow, and that is His Law of love. The Father presented to us his son, Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. He is the doorway into experiencing God’s new covenant of love for his people. Everyone has a choice, to see, to understand, and to choose for themselves the Truth worth following after. I believe Truth is God’s son Jesus, and that He is worth following. He is the Truth. Following the Truth sets us free. Simply put, I believe that we as a people have been created by God, for God. We need to surrender to and be governed by the one supreme God, the one who has a higher and better law for us than the chains of the unsurrendered Self’s autonomous law.
This is what I do not believe, that self-rule will work apart from God’s rule. It must ultimately deteriorate into chaos and anarchy because self-determined truths will inevitably compete with one another within the culture and cause conflict. They will cause us to declare war upon one another. We are seeing it today. Increasingly so. Look around you. The lines are being drawn.
But, this I also believe, that culturally, surrender will never happen. We are in rebellion. We as a fallen sinful culture are at war with the rule of God. We love darkness rather than light. We love our truth more than His truth. We are the Rebel Planet and consequences are coming.
I believe in the story that dates back to the very beginning of time. I believe in the Bible record that says that the first man and woman, not too long after creation, were deceived into believing that they too were autonomous, that they could choose for themselves what was good and what was evil. That deception separated them, and consequently us, from God and from His Life. That deception separated them from the fellowship that God intended to have with them. And so they disobeyed.
The world today reaps the consequences of disobedience. People in the world today continue to believe in this deception: that it is up to us to determine what is good and what is evil, not what God has already defined for us. We determined that it was okay to disobey. God determined that disobedience to be sin. From that infamous beginning, our sins are now many. We have been given a long list of what they are. But because we are now self-determining, we have determined that sin does not even exist in the hearts of men (I’m okay you’re okay: we’re not evil, we’re basically good). Or we decide can grade our sins on a subjective sliding scale. Now, we are free to throw out some, or if we wish, determine if some are worse than others.
In our autonomous culture, murder (excepting babies in the womb) is still defined as being an evil thing, while homosexuality is not. Lying might be necessary and not even sinful if it’s just a white lie. And so we bump heads in that cultural conversation because we have different cultural lenses. Theonomously defined, sin is sin. Heteronomously, it is defined by the few. Democratically it is defined by the majority. Autonomously, it is entirely up to you.
From God’s view, sin has consequences. From the view of the few, consequences work more like Random Selection (the Few may randomly select you! ). Democratically we’re not sure; so let’s take a vote! Autonomously, it can all be ignored.
Here is an invitation not to ignore it.
There is a solution; Theonomously speaking:
Jesus came! God sent his son. He lived. He died. He rose and lives again. He brought us redemption. He paid the price. He has chosen us and He offers us his life. We can choose it. We can believe. We can choose Him. We can find Life again in him. We can be his temple and he can live within us. He is the solution for all of the ways we fall short of perfection.
He is the solution for all of our sins: the ones we call big, the ones we call little, and the ones that we ignore. He gives us his Life. He told us, go and sin no more. So we go and take up our cross and trade in our lives**. He gives us the power to do all things through Christ. Jesus’ Life within us is the power. He gives us the power to choose and to do the right thing. He has given us Himself so that we can do all things through Him who is our Strength. He has given us the ability to choose freedom. Jesus is the one who sets us free. Indeed.
God gave us something very special, sacred even when he gave us free choice. We are free to choose. But still, it is God who governs the consequences and the outcomes of those choices. He has given us the freedom to choose. He gave us control of our choices, but he did not give us control of the consequences of those choices. We as a culture are given choices. The choice of being governed by God’s rule, by the rule of the many, by the rule of the few, or by the rule of the Self. We have been given the choice of surrendering to God’s free reign over us, or of choosing to surrender our freedom to the many, or the few. Or we may continue to choose that we ourselves remain the self-determining gods. We have the choices. Ultimately, with all of those choices, this is the consequence, we have surrendered our freedom to the deceiver. Whether we realize it or not, we come under the rule of the prince and god of this world, Satan, who is the father of sin, and lies, and evil, and the keeper of all of this world’s fallen cultural systems.
We have a choice. We still can choose the truth that sets us free. It is the Truth that has a name. Truth’s name is Jesus.
This though, cannot be avoided: If we choose the Truth that sets us free, if we choose Jesus, that choice will clash with the world’s version of truth. We who believe will receive consequences from the world. Jesus warned us that this would be the way it is. Jesus warned us of the tribulation and persecution that would come of all of this. Because this world hated Him, it will hate those who choose Him.
But in the end, Truth will win.
Culture today, in the USA and in the world, is in the process of replacing God and redefining the truth. We are losing our freedom. Today, in our autonomous cultures, each individual is a god becoming [replacing] God. The stories of the gods of Greek mythology gave us a hint of what it will be like when Autonomy rules—it would be like our Marvel superhero gods, gone mad! The clash of wills worldwide will deteriorate into anarchy.
Anarchy will rule and reign until Hetero (Another god– an anti-God— who will reign for a short season), comes along to dictate to the mad masses what they now must do.
Is there not a prophecy… somewhere… about that, about the outcome of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes?
When the gods of America
And the gods of this world
Replace the God of creation,
And this world will truly be
A terrifying place…
… Until the very end, when Truth comes back and wins!
* We have been called by God into a new and different culture. A culture that is not of this world, and yet is in this world. A culture not conforming to the systems of this world. A culture transformed by the Word. We have been called by God to be his people, his family; His plan is to build us into a culture that is distinctly different and separate from the fallen cultural systems of this world. We have been called into His Kingdom Culture. We are to be Counter Cultural. We are called to be a reflection of the glory of God the Father dwelling within us. We are his Ecclesia, a people gathered from out of this world to be His light in this world.
We have been called from out of this world to join His kingdom restoration, His ecclesia’s reformation, and His worldwide revolution.
May His kingdom come, may His will be done, here on earth, in us and through us, as it is in heaven.
** I used auto dictation to write this. When I said, “…we take up our cross and trade in our lives.”, auto dictation wrote this, “…we take up our cross and trade in our wives.” ! (Funny, but no.)