31 May 3 Gospel & Culture Options
Galatians 1:6-7 – I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Have you ever moved homes?
If so, I’m guessing you got rid of a lot of stuff before you moved.
What is true physically, is also true spiritually. For a few thousand years the gospel of Jesus Christ lived in Jewish culture. Then, after Jesus died and rose, the gospel moved into new Gentile cultures.
In our study of Galatians, the problem boils down to a conflict between the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is a perfect message from heaven, and culture, which is the imperfect means by which people on earth live together. To put it another way, when the gospel went from Jewish to Gentile culture, how much stuff did they need to pack up and keep, and what could they throw away?
What was at stake was no minor matter as the salvation to the nations was at stake. Things boiled down to three options:
- Multiple gospels for multiple cultures.Every culture and subculture could have their own version of Jesus, own kind of Christianity, and there would be no unity but instead the embracing of all false gospels which were counterfeits from Satan. This is precisely how we get cults.
- One gospel and one culture for everyone.People not only needed to convert to Jesus Christ, they also needed to convert to Jewish all the intricate details of Jewish culture in things from dietary restrictions to holidays and circumcision for males. This is the kind of thing that happens in religions like Islam where you have to learn one language (Arabic) and adhere to all the culture trappings of the religion in addition to the teachings so that there is one culture that everyone converts to. This is what Paul’s opponents in Galatians were fighting for – conversion to Jesus plus Jewish culture was needed for you to go to heaven.
- One gospel for every culture.This is what Paul is fighting for. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is unchanging and gets dropped into any and every culture and subculture. For this reason, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book and Christianity is the most culturally diverse movement of any kind in world history. And, the gospel begins to transform every culture it lands in to become more like the Kingdom of God, which is the culture of God.
Is there anything in your cultural preferences that you have raised to the same level of importance as the gospel of Jesus Christ?