Friday, August 31, 2012

Christianity and Culture

In our Tuesday evening discussion group a couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of concern among our Anglican friends on how to express the Christian religion in terms comprehensible to the current culture. I listened with much interest and empathy, and I didn’t have any answer for them. Finally I asked Demetrios, yes, aloud and in front of them, “How is it we Orthodox don’t have this problem?” And he answered the question very well, I thought. He said it’s because Christianity is not geared toward any given culture, but is according to human nature.

That’s true, isn’t it? And human nature doesn’t change, at least hasn’t since Adam and Eve fell. And the problem(s) and needs and joys we experience in the depths of our being remain the same. And what God reveals to us, or rather Whom He reveals, is for our good, to restore our human nature and then go better and glorify it, according to God’s original intention. And Christ took on that human nature and inaugurated the process for all of us. That is why, when we hear a Christian truth, so often it seems to us to resonate, or even to have come from, our own hearts, and we leap toward it and greet it with a joyous, “Yes!”

Christ is universal, catholic, meaning for all people in all times in all places. Who doesn’t need to be loved, and who loves us as He does? Who doesn’t need peace in his soul, and who guides our feet into the ways of peace? Who doesn’t need his past forgiven, his present joyful and his future filled with “sure and certain hope”? What human being doesn’t feel in his soul that death is a monstrous wrong, a cruel end, the ultimate enemy? What need has any of this to be put into specific cultural terms?

And the corollary is, it’s a tautology, a redundancy, to say salvation is only through Christ. He is the very definition of salvation.


Chris said...

When churches begin to make plans to reach certain members of any culture by changing their praxis and doctrine, then those churches cease being catholic.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Indeed. The very definition of "catholic" is that something is suitable to all people, everywhere, at all times.