Christians should worry as much about preserving orthodox Christian culture as they do about changing secular culture. Indeed, preserving traditional Christian culture is an essential precondition to any wholesome changes in the broader culture. If American Christian culture is infected by theological vacuousness and historical ignorance, by shallow consumerism, or by ethical corruption, then on what basis can we hope to transform the broader culture? As Christopher Dawson’s classic Religion and the Rise of Western Culture demonstrates, Christians have often found themselves having to preserve the heritage of biblical Christianity from a hostile surrounding culture. There’s nothing especially new in our situation today.
And this one is excellent as well:
While some Christians may be called vocationally to institutions of high symbolic capital, all of us can take responsibility for the mini-cultures of our family, church, and neighborhood. I’m afraid that I can’t do much about the voting patterns of Ohio, but I can sure do something about the culture of my dinner table. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was reportedly asked what we can do to promote world peace. She answered “Go home and love your family.”
I love this point. It’s largely missing from our discussion about Christ and culture today. It fits seamlessly for me with the primary posture of Scripture: first, defend the gospel. Our initial duty is simply this: to not lose the faith. When we are grounded in God, then we are able to venture forth and seek to bring the gospel to bear on all of life, including culture. But too often today, we jump to this second essential task before first securing our doctrinal foundation. And the second paragraph is as important as the first. It reminds us that we’re not wasting time by plugging into familial rhythms, for example. We’re actually undertaking world- and soul-shaping work.
This helps us, by the way, make sense of the calling to “make” a home and raise children. The modern industrial attack on the domestic sphere has wrought devastating consequences for the family and the home. Women are not, as I said a minute ago, wasting time by loving their children. What a wretched argument. By pouring into little ones, they are “preserving culture,” to use Kidd’s language. They are raising “little Christs.” What could be more important than that? Similarly, men are not merely breadwinners, but are charged by God with the leadership of their families. They must provide, yes, but they must also lead, and love, and invest.
To summarize: first we must preserve. Then we can engage. If we do not first preserve, there will be little with which to engage. With an atmospheric picture of Christ and his sovereignty securing our faith and driving our interaction, we cannot lose.