Does the Bible call the local church to the work of cultural transformation?

9Marks

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is that the church is called to the work of cultural transformation only insofar as the church is called to help people grow as disciples of Christ in every facet of their lives.

What is the cultural mandate? Who is it given to?

9Marks
The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen 2:15). God calls all humans, as those made in his image, to fill the earth with his glory through creating what we commonly call culture. The cultural mandate is given to all people. In Genesis 1:26-28, it’s given to Adam and Eve as the only people and as representatives of all humanity. In Genesis 9:1 it’s given to Noah as the representative of all humanity.

Does the Bible lead us to expect that Christians will be able to transform society?

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In order to answer that question we need to put a few biblical and theological pieces into their proper place:

What’s wrong with the emerging church?

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See the question “What is the emerging church?” for the necessary caveat that it is difficult to accurately generalize about the emerging church. Still, somebody’s gotta do it.

Basically, what’s wrong with the emerging church is that it takes the postmodern ideology and cultural mood as its starting point—its “given”—which then relativizes Scripture’s role as our authoritative norm for life and doctrine. Examples? Proponents of the emerging church tend to:

What are some key components in a biblical perspective on culture?

9Marks
God is Lord of the entire universe. As Abraham Kuyper put it, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”* This means that all humans are accountable to God for all of their actions, including the most mundane or seemingly unspiritual.

How should Christians relate to the culture around them?

9Marks
Jesus prayed that his followers would be in the world but not of the world (Jn. 17:11, 14-15). Therefore, all of Christian cultural engagement should be pervaded with a sense that our citizenship is in heaven, our hope is in heaven, and our affections are fixed on heaven (Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:1-3). We’re not of the world, so we should not share its values and hopes and goals.

How can local churches work toward racial harmony?

9Marks
Know the history of the problem. In order to understand present racial tensions, one must know something about the history of race relations in one’s context, the history of the church’s involvement in racial oppression, and the particular historical experiences of different minority groups.

How can Christians think biblically about race and ethnicity?

9Marks

In order to develop a biblical perspective on ethnicity Christians should recognize that:

Why is sound doctrine essential for worship?

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Sound doctrine is essential for worship because…

Why is sound doctrine essential for a Christian’s discipleship and growth?

9Marks

Sound doctrine is essential for a Christian’s discipleship and growth because what we believe determines how we live.

Why is sound doctrine essential for the unity of the church?

9Marks

Sound doctrine is essential for the unity of the church because the only true unity is unity in the truth (1 Jn. 1:1-4; 2 Jn. 10-11).

Think about it. Without sound doctrine the church will be a jumbled mess of everyone’s personal beliefs. If the church without sound doctrine is united, it will either be united around whimsical sentiment or an explicit untruth. In either case:

Why is sound doctrine essential for the health of the church?

9Marks

Sound doctrine is essential for the health of the church because the church will always listen to someone, and it will always follow whoever it listens to. The only question is, will a church follow God or Satan? Will it confess the truth or lies? Will it uphold sound doctrine or false teaching?

To be specific, sound doctrine is essential for:

Book Review: Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: Five Views, ed. by Paul Engle and Gary McIntosh

Review by Andy Johnson | 9Marks Journal: The Church's Mission | 03.08.2010

This, I think, is the key takeaway from this book: If you start with man, you won’t rise above man-made theories.

Book(s) Review: This Little Church . . . Went to Market & Stayed Home, by Gary Gilley

Review by Flynn Cratty | 9Marks Journal: Elders (Part 1) | 03.06.2010

In the end, this emphasis on the Bible as the norm for life and doctrine is the most helpful thing in these two books.

Book Review: Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, by D. A. Carson

Review by Paul Alexander | 03.05.2010

What good is evangelistic ministry if we lose the evangel?