Does God call the church to transform the culture? To seek mercy and justice in the city? That’s the question considered in this issue of the 9Marks eJournal.
It’s easy to say, “Churches should match their creeds with their deeds by seeking to change culture.” But the issue is more complex than most probably expect. It requires tangling ourselves up in knotty questions about the mission and marks of the church, the spirituality of the church, the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church, already/not yet eschatology, what’s normative and what’s not in redemption history, and more.
Not only that, this isn’t the first time in church history in which the possibility existed of Christians becoming more concerned about the moral culture outside the church than they are about the moral culture inside. Attempting to understand the decline of church discipline between 1850 and 1920, for instance, historian Greg Wills has observed, “From temperance to Sabbatarian reform, evangelicals persuaded their communities to adopt the moral norms of the church for society at large. As Baptists learned to reform the larger society, they forgot how they had once reformed themselves…The more evangelicals purified the society, the less they felt the urgency of a discipline that separated the church from the world.” Is the so-called missional church, which leads the way in talk about cultural transformation, at risk of becoming a temperance movement for the 21st century?
A roundtable of pastors and theologians offer their two cents on these questions. Michael Horton provides an extended historical and theological consideration. Robin W. reviews a couple of books relevant to the topic. Meanwhile, Priya Abraham gives us several concrete proposals for how to care for the some of the most downtrodden in our culture today.
9Marks doesn’t presume to have the final answer on these topics, but since more and more churches are structuring their ministries around this idea of transforming culture, we thought it would be worthwhile to present a couple of arguments outside of this new trendy mainstream.
Speaking of trendy, Mike McKinley isn’t. He’s punk rock. But does he care? Owen Strachan certainly cares about age groups. And David Wells cares, well, about the globe. Check it out.