1) The Gospel is the “power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” whether Jew or Greek, Muslim or Hindu. We must be careful not to put obstacles in the way of the Gospel by attaching cultural practices and man-made traditions to the message. (Acts 15:1-29)
2) In establishing an indigenous community of Christ followers the primary goal is not to express the uniqueness of any given culture but rather to manifest clearly the uniqueness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
3) When a person is born again he/she receives a new identity that is neither Jewish nor Greek, Muslim nor Hindu, but rather becomes a member of the culture of Christ Followers. Therefore we should avoid an overemphasis on either retaining or rejecting of one’s native culture. 1 Corinthians 7:19 makes it clear that what should guide our conduct as Christians is not what our own culture is or isn’t doing but rather obedience to Christ.
4) Believers should clearly identify themselves as Followers of Christ. For the sake of their Christian testimony believers should leave no confusion in people’s minds as to whom and what they are committed to. (Matthew 10:32-33)
5) The Word of God is the final authority in all matters, therefore all cultural practices and religious rituals must be evaluated in light of the principles of Scripture.
EVALUATION OF THE CULTURE
a) 1 Cor 7:18-20. The principle: A believer is not required to abandon his/her culture to follow Christ. Believers should willingly accept the situation into which God has placed them and be content to serve Him there.
i. Every culture has components to it that are good and bad. What is good (that which is a reflection of the image of God) may and should be retained
ii. That which is an expression of man’s falleness and is in contradiction to the principles of Scripture must be rejected.
b) 1Thess. 5:21-22. The principle: Believers must test everything and be careful to make a clear separation between what is good and what is evil.
EVALUATION OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
a) 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. The principle: Believers and unbelievers are part of two different kingdoms that have no agreement with each other. Therefore, believers must not be yoked together (harnessed together) with unbelievers in any religious event or activity.
b) 1 Corinthians 8:4-12 & 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. The principle: Believers must never exercise their liberty in Christ in such a way that it could be a hindrance to a weaker brother. Therefore, believers must be careful not to participate in any ritual or activity of a false religion that leaves the impression of agreement with that false religion.
6) By virtue of obedience to Christ, a believer will of necessity be different from his/her native culture. As God’s people are not called to fit into our culture but rather we are the “called out ones.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
Written by: A.R.