How does or should the church interact with culture? During this past week, our class had the privilege of hosting John Stonestreet to discuss this topic. John Stonestreet is a clearly gifted communicator. One of the things I most enjoyed about him this past week was how interactive and engaging he was. He allowed for questions and active involvement in class, but he also stayed on topic. Yet in staying focused, he was able to gain and maintain the students’ attention. Our 3 days with him flew by.
I still remember his opening line: “Christianity does a lousy job understanding Christianity and culture does a lousy job understanding Christianity.” After the teaching sessions, I realized the truth of this statement. In many Christian circles, it is taught that culture is to be avoided and that it is inherently evil, with little to no good being able to be gained from it. However, Stonestreet pointed out that culture is not the world. It is what we do with the world. The structure of the world is good, but the direction we take it is either good or bad. Culture is not to be avoided, but it is to be taken in the right direction.
Ultimately, Stonestreet argued that Christians are to create culture, not mimic it. Oftentimes, culture cultivates us, rather than us it. The reason for this is that we haven’t been taught to think well. That is where we start. We think well, armed with the truth. The world may ignore the truth, but no one can ignore the consequences of the truth. Overall, the experience with John Stonestreet was great. He and his ideas were stimulating and class was a real joy. There was never a dull moment. I only wish he could have stayed longer!