Between the Dark and the Daylight

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If reverence for culture was rooted in biblical thought, I would accept it gladly. The Bible, however, does not support it.

Between the Dark and Daylight

Reverence of culture is constructed almost without reference to the Bible. Some may cite a few verses, an incident in the life of Paul or an isolated saying of Jesus to support their argument, but real biblical theology is almost totally absent from their thought process.

The biblical view of culture should begin with a relatively unfamiliar New Testament theological motif: the doctrine of the two ages. Its unfamiliarity is in no way a reflection on its importance. This doctrine is at the heart of the New Testament worldview. It originates in Daniel, where the prophet sees a vision of carnage and violence in the conflicts that kingdoms of this present evil age cannot avoid. This vision tells us that the beasts think they hold power, but real authority resides in a higher place. The power of the age to come will invade history and, as the thrones are set up in heaven, earthly history will give way to the heavenly.

The doctrine had become so firmly fixed in Jewish thought by the first century A. The Great Commission is couched in the language of the doctrine of two ages. Then, at the coming of the age to come, God will rule directly and believers would spend eternity in his unmediated presence. Paul approached the topic with a pastoral concern for Gentile churches that required him to explain things Jesus could simply state without elaboration. This age stands in sharp contrast to the age to come in the way it causes people to think, reason and understand.

Even the philosophers of this age have been confused by the wisdom of God. The Christ of the gospel does not fit the paradigms of Jews or Gentiles. Thus, the gospel is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks 1 Cor. Jewish leaders crucified Jesus not knowing that his death accomplished victory over the powers of this age 1 Cor. For Paul, this age is a state or condition from which Christ rescues us Gal.

The power of Christ is extended in both ages, but the seat of his power is in the heavenly places Eph. Just like modern missionaries, Paul had to reject his own culture and culturally conditioned achievements as worthless to become the apostle to the Gentiles.

If the culture of Paul, Jesus, Isaiah, Elijah, Moses and the patriarchs had to be abandoned, we too must share the conviction that the only thing in which we can boast is the gospel. Missionaries do their host cultures a disservice when they fail to stress a biblical perspective of all cultures. For the missionary, knowledge of culture is a key element in reaching the lost, but in trying to understand a culture we dare not sanctify it. It often refers to the totality of human life, as in John where Jesus says he was sent to benefit the world.

In Acts 2, the entire world population was represented by the pious Jews gathered for Pentecost. It can also refer to the people who are estranged from God 1 Cor. If culture includes learned behavior passed on from generation to generation, then culture, biblically understood, is an attempt of fallen human beings to adapt to and make sense of a fallen creation. In its fallenness, culture cannot be neutral to the things of God. Cultures, like people, are marred by the fall. Yet Jesus also makes it clear that the salvation of the world is the reason God sent him John and he sent his followers into the world to act redemptively within it.

The New Testament treats the world as an enemy because of the coercive power it has to shape human thought. The New Testament never prescribes reverence for culture. Because culture is both pervasive and invasive, it is hard to know what is biblical, and what is cultural. The study of culture alone will not tell us. It is sometimes suggested that Jesus and Paul both worked within their cultures. This is true, insofar as we recognize them as real people at a real historical-cultural moment.

When working within their culture—first-century Judaism—both Christ and Paul rejected and condemned those aspects of Jewish culture that kept its people from faith in Christ. The Name of God Is Mercy. Love Letters, The. Madeleine L'Engle. The Witch of Lime Street. David Jaher. Finding God in the Waves. Mike McHargue. How God Changes Your Brain. Andrew Newberg , MD.

eBook Classics: 'Between the Dark and the Daylight'

Hallelujah Anyway. Anne Lamott. Consuming the Word. Scott Hahn. A Complaint Free World. Will Bowen. The Book of Secrets. Deepak Chopra , M. Tears to Triumph. Marianne Williamson. Light Emerging. Barbara Ann Brennan. Byron Katie. John Kralik. Simply Jesus. In the Shadow of 10, Hills. Jennifer Haupt. Short Stories by Jesus. Amy-Jill Levine. Bliss More. Light Watkins. Michelle DeRusha. The Art of Communicating.

Thich Nhat Hanh. How to Disappear. Frank M.

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David D. It's a matter of helping people think through all the dimensions of life as we deal with the rest of it. To put it another way: Life is made up of context as well as content. These things--the social environment, out attitudes, our goals, our sense of self--all affect the way we come to our decisions and why.

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The purpose of this book is to bring those things to consciousness so we can come to understand why we think what we think as we go through life. It's an attempt to make the invisible parts of life visible to us in ways that free us to operate at our best. What made you decide to write about this topic? Everyone deals with each of these things like what it means to be part of the crowd, for instance.

The question is when is the crowd helpful--and when not. What part of being in a crowd is more harmful than good.

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Discussions like that alone make the discussion of particular issues both more real and more honest. Life is a series of paradoxes--contradictions that are as true as they are false--that confront us all our lives. The point is to look at each of them from every perspective and bend them to our strengths, not simply surrender to the pitfalls they present us with.

We have to ask whether or not we have examined each of them thoroughly or only with prejudice. We have to grow beyond our fears in order to become our best and strongest selves.