It is my intention in this article, to show the relationship between theological formation in the church and its particular culture and contemporary movements. By culture we mean the language, arts, habits, values, currency, and aspirations of a people group, a community, city or nation.
It has been evident to numerous biblical scholars that often (if not most of the time) believers (including preachers) interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture. This has resulted in many beliefs, doctrines and practices prevalent in the church that are not in accord with the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly this is often the case with the Evangelical church in the United States. Since the U.S. is so influential, American Evangelicals have also exported a gospel replete with an American cultural paradigm that is not in line with the Hebraic paradigm of Scripture. Consequently, sometimes in the U.S. pulpit, preaching can sound more like the “American Dream” than sound, biblical teaching.
A couple of years ago, my dear friend Bishop Harry Jackson called a few leaders and discussed his plans to initiate an event to deal with the issue of the worsening racial divide in America. The result was “The Reconciled Church” event on January 15 (providentially the date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), which was hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas.
When I say “market driven” I am referring to the contemporary ethos in culture whose only value is infinite growth and production. This market-driven culture is equally in the contemporary evangelical church. This is very different from the Hebraic mindset of the word of God the church should be taking their cues from.
I have been involved in numerous local, city and national initiatives related to the body of Christ. Often, our mantra circles around the term “we need unity in the body of Christ”. While that is a good start, it should not be the end game for the church. In John 17:20-23 Jesus’s prayer for the church is that we would be one.
With the election of a new president in the United States in the next year, many people are wondering how God allows or chooses someone to become the leader of a nation. Since the church is actually referred to as a nation (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 21:43) that is called to manifest God’s kingdom and disciple all the other nations of the world (Luke 11:2; Matthew 28:19), it behooves us to understand the theology behind geopolitical movements on the earth.
There is a strong individualistic mindset in North America and beyond. While this has many good qualities (which is not the subject of this article ) it also goes against the Hebraic corporate mindset of the scriptures. This has caused preaching, teaching and theology to impose views on the biblical text that is not in accord with the inspired writings of the authors.
The implications regarding this are vast since God knows what is best for us to fulfill our purpose and walk in spiritual and emotional health. It is obvious from Scripture that, it is best if each individual believer learn how to incorporate their life into the context of a faith community.
Nowadays, it is very common, even for people serving in leadership positions, to come to life altering conclusions without including mature leaders in their process. When this happens, it is the (culturally informed) individualistic mindset at work more than adherence to scripture.
The following six points reveal which mindset we are informed by the individualistic or corporate?
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