Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Transforming Vision

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Reading the last part of this book, The Transforming Vision, written by Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, it contained some aspects that I found very interesting and practical to my life. One aspect deals with the duality between Christians following their following their faith and keeping it separate from their own lives in a particular culture. In a sense, this issue can create so much tension and controversy in many Christian’s lives, that rather than put up with criticism and ridicule they would decide not to outwardly follow the will of the Lord. From page ninety four of chapter five a quote from the apostle Peter, “I would be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” I would assume that it means that a Christian’s world view should be consistent with their faith commitment. There is a difference in dualism and duality in the book, it states, that duality forces a Christian to look at their lives, either they serve the Lord or they do not and follow what society dictates. Dualism can blur the true line between serving God’s calling for us to do his will and what society tells us what to do. In chapter five it mentions, a person with a dualistic world view simply assumes that life has two distinct realms. And dualism can show up in at least three ways. How we work, how we view culture, and how we view the bible. It goes on to talk about the way we become either doctors or musicians with Christian values, but not Christians who happen to work as doctors or musicians. Trying to live up to the social pressures and standards can cause a dilemma for Christians as well. Our society dictates how we judge people by their occupation. Occupations that people have can determine the status of an individual. And status can determine wealth. However a dualistic approach can plague Christians. If the dualism persists we begin to believe that somehow we can separate our spiritual life from our cultural life. That we can work in an accepted system. And then we begin to compromise our beliefs. Instead of changing the system the individual is involved in the system changes the individual. Culture is just one aspect that has created problems for Christians’ duality. Chapter nine goes into how we have followed false gods, in fact, one god, with three personalities and they are

1. Scientism Reason is the belief of the scientific method can provide exhaustive knowledge of the world nature and of mankind.

. Technicism The technological mastery of nature. In which the goal of technology is to promote economic growth and material prosperity.

. Economism The chief idol, the goal of creating full wealth and material prosperity.

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The first two goals go hand in hand in creating the ideal conditions for the final goal. The Transforming Vision, brings out aspects that covers how culture can affect Christians in this society. Beyond Culture Wars, written by Michael S. Horton, deals with how we have perceived what that culture should be and the conflict between Christian views and the perceptions society has projected on them. A good example of this is by Francis Schaeffer, he states, “There is a tremendous pressure to lose the Reformation memory as the years pass and our first task is not to align our message with the middle class establishment only have our children rebel against our faith because of our politics, but to recover the lost truth of our Reformation heritage.” What was meant by that statement is we should not be afraid to offend unbelievers. Christianity is not a culture, it should not be compromised for the sake of what society deems is right. God has given Christians the word on what is right. You can serve only one master, regardless if we want to be loyal this country, this society, this culture. However, there have been many mistakes made in this conflict. The book goes into addressing what some of those mistakes are

1. The problem is humanism. We have incorrectly defined the enemy as the “cultural elite” and “humanists.”

. The problem is the conspiracy of a “cultural elite.” That our culture is dominated by a handful of individuals who shape the values, attitudes, and outlooks of the society. Many evangelicals are out of touch with the very world and institutions they want to influence. And the general assumption is that because they cannot a given argument they will try to impose their will by economic and political pressure.

. American Culture is a Judeo-Christian Monolith. Many Christians fall into the trap of believing that Western Culture in general or American culture is shaped excessively by “Judeo-Christian” beliefs. Thomas Jefferson is considered one of the fathers of this country and a holy man yet, he bitterly attacked the Holy Trinity as “superstition.”

4. The greatest challenge today is Atheism. It is not the atheists who attack society but rather those who are religiously guided. Christians will fight to keep prayer in schools no matter the religion or object of faith. The book states, “The unknown god will do just fine.” We must recognize that it is idolatry not atheism that is the real culprit.

5. Political solutions are ultimate. Many modern evangelicals are still confident in the modern disciplines such as psychology, the social sciences, and politics; while the rest of the world is losing its confidence in these authorities and wonder aloud about spiritual solutions. The book makes a good point on page fifty nine. “The government cannot make people good, charitable and God-honoring. We as disciples of God must take the step to educate the masses and bring them into the light of his teachings.

I must say that I enjoyed both books, but particularly Beyond Culture Wars kept me engrossed. Most people would think that it is one dimensional, one sided, but in a sense, it has to be. From a Christian standpoint there are only two ways to perceive things; the wrong way or God’s way. There are many people call themselves Christians but do not live the way that God meant for them. And I must admit I am one of them. In concentrating in attaining a higher status, a better job, I have forgotten what is most important to me. These things do not satisfy me and deep down I know that they never will. But I keep pushing, I keep moving in the wrong direction. However, reading this book has begun to help me see the path I need to take.

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