Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Question for Chameleon Christianity

Some argue that Christians need to accept certain beliefs and practices (like evolution and homosexuality) as true and legitimate in order to minister to our culture. "Christians are giving a black eye to the gospel," so they say.

Here's my question though. If ministering to a people means you adopt what they believe to be true and morally acceptable, then does this crew advocate that one must adopt creationism and an anti-homosexuality stance when ministering to conservative evangelicals? How about when ministering to Muslims who make up a larger portion of the world than atheists?

I don't ever hear them say this about these other cultures, and so I have to wonder if such reasoning is not only ethnocentric, but self exalting in that it takes what the person arguing for this believes and makes it absolute for everyone, regardless of the target group's beliefs might be.

In other words, this is just a way to say that what I believe is true, everyone should accept it, and I'm not really concerned about ministering to people as much as being vindicated in my personal beliefs concerning reality.

Of course, this reasoning is not only a shield for self exaltation, it isn't even biblical. The person, I imagine, is arguing from the backdrop of Paul's statement concerning his cultural adaptation. But Paul is saying that he observes the cultural aspects of the Law and Judaism, not that he acts like he believes that the Law can now save people and that Judaism is true apart from Christ. In other words, he's not contextualizing the gospel by changing what he believes or says is true, but by observing cultural norms in order to gain an opportunity to speak the gospel. He's far from telling the Greeks that their sexual practices are perfectly acceptable to God, that their concept of polytheism is true, etc.

There is no compromise in the message or even what we think beyond the message. There is a submission of our cultural norms to the cultural norms of others that we might serve them through the gospel. That's biblical contextualization. The other is just Chameleon Christianity that wants to be vindicated and acceptable to others. Ironically, that is a quest to use others to vindicate ourselves, not a service and sacrifice or ourselves given to them.

Those who make this argument, then, are not serving others, but themselves. If they really wanted to serve everyone, they would make the same argument for non-Western-liberals. They don't, because it's not about serving others. It's about getting their ideas on top. Supposedly, that's the exact opposite of ministry to them, but in the end, they are doing the very thing they shake their heads at evangelicals for doing (i.e., attempting to minister in their beliefs without compromising with the beliefs of someone else). Ironic, isn't it?

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