The Christian and Culture: Is All Culture Equally Healthy?
It is the Christmas season, and as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s only Son, sent to save the world from sin, consider what that means. It means that Jesus came to win our hearts and minds back to trust, so that we will leave behind everything of this world that is out of harmony with heaven and trust Him and follow Him into a kingdom of love, truth, and eternal freedom.
The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world are not the same. I am passionate about calling people out of the systems of this world and into God’s kingdom of love. Unfortunately, sometimes what I say is misunderstood. I recently received a letter (yes, an actual pen-and-paper letter), airmailed from the United Kingdom, expressing concern over some things I said during Come and Reason’s Bible study covering lesson nine of the fourth quarter 2020, entitled “The Church and Education.” The letter was sent anonymously with no return address, so I am unable to respond directly to whomever sent it. Therefore, I will respond here in hopes that the writer sees it and to clear up any misunderstanding.
From the letter:
We here in the U.K. have been watching your programme for some time now and we found it interesting and informative. The programme on education and the church we find very discouraging, shocking and hurtful for the following reasons: Jesus never taught Racial or National superiority, you are teaching that America as a white protestant nation, culture and civilization is SUPERIOR to all others. Jesus did not teach this neither did He encourage His disciples to do so.
Jesus never went around Palestine destroying non-Jewish culture and civilization…
The letter then details a long list of offenses of the USA; for instance, being number one in abortion; rape and abuse of children; gun crimes and homicide; drug abuse; number one spreader of COVID 19; and number one for false religion. The letter then goes on:
America is like its mother the Roman empire Vampire that went round the world in ancient times raping, pillaging, and murdering the native people for their land and resources, America like its mother is a PARASITE civilization and culture.
The forefathers who left here in the U.K. to America and to the rest of the world were fleeing religious persecution and yet they did the same thing to Black and Brown people all over the world… We implore you to stop teaching American nationalism, culture and white Protestant superiority. We here in the U.K. for the time being will no longer watch your programme or support your ministry.
I can’t tell you the sadness I felt reading this. Again, click here to find the lesson that this person is referencing, so you can listen to the lesson or read the notes. And below is the text of my prepared notes for the lesson. Before I respond to this person’s concerns, I want you to read the notes or listen to what I said. Then consider the concerns of this very hurt individual.
My notes from lesson 9:
From the bottom pink section, “What prejudices does your culture and society teach, either subtly or openly, that as a Christian, you must rise above?”
Do you believe it is righteous or unrighteous to seek to destroy another people’s culture?
And let’s define what I mean by culture – I am not talking about a culture of microorganisms in a lab, nor am I talking about manners or politeness, I am talking about:
a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period – the African culture, the American Indian culture, the Greek culture etc.
So, with that in mind, is it righteous or unrighteous to seek to destroy another people’s culture?
In our society today, would progressivism and leftism, want to destroy other cultures, or would progressivism want to validate all cultures and not eradicate other cultures?
When Jesus said to His followers,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV84,
was He instructing them to go out and eradicate paganism and all cultures based on false views about Him, to eradicate cultures based on the principles of this world, to establish a culture based on love for God and love for others, on truth, love and liberty?
So if we follow Jesus’ command will we seek to convert people to Christ? And will converting people to Christ simultaneously be destroying the following cultures?
So, can Christianity, if it fulfills the gospel commission to make people disciples of Jesus, really support the idea of protecting other culture?
Do you see why progressivism, leftism, which believes all cultures are equal and should be protected, works to obstruct via laws, via social pressure etc. the sharing of the gospel? It becomes illegal to try to convert people to Christ. Books like The Great Controversy, which exposes the abuses of the Roman church through history, are labelled as hate speech.
The principles of God are truth presented in love while leaving others free. If you have truth on your side, then you have nothing to fear by open speech, ideas being investigated, evidence being presented. But, if you have lies, then once your lies have been accepted you don’t want people investigating, you want to silence any voices that bring truth, because the truth will expose the lies.
So, do we agree that presenting the truth about Jesus will destroy the cultures based on Satan’s lies (2Cor 10:3-5)?
And do we agree that doing so by converting people is a good thing?
What about destroying other cultures through military might, by killing those who won’t join us – is this a good or bad thing for the world?
As Christians, we cannot advocate the methods of might and killing to advance our cause, but does that set us up to draw false conclusions about the results of those who do or have done so in the past?
For instance, there is an idea being propagated in our society today that America is evil because it was founded by war against the Native Americans and essentially wiped them out and destroyed their culture and this is bad. What do you think?
Would the world be better off if Cortez and the Spanish did not go to war with the Aztecs and destroy the Aztec culture? Would the world be better off if the Aztec culture continued in Mexico and we have ongoing human sacrifice and cannibalism practiced south of the US border?
Or are the people who have lived, since the Aztec culture was destroyed, better off without human sacrifice and cannibalism?
So, is the idea being pushed today, that all culture is equally valuable, healthy, good and all culture should be respected and protected, true? No, it is a lie and Christians should have the ability to discern the truth from lies and not buy into the leftism and collude with those who want to stop the gospel from going forward.
So, back to the question in the lesson, what prejudices does our culture or society teach that we must rise above?
Would it be movements that oppose Christianity – any movements that promote godlessness, would that include evolutionism? Humanism? Secularism? Leftism?
What saddened me about the letter is that the person who wrote it completely misrepresented what I was saying. Let’s break down the false conclusions:
- The person alleges that I teach racial, national, and white superiority. This is false. You will not find this idea in my lesson or in any of my teachings. You will find the opposite, that I teach that in Christ there “is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV84), that racial differences are irrelevant and what matters is character. Sadly, this person’s letter reveals what he thought I was teaching, not what I actually teach.
- The person alleges that I teach that America, as white Protestant, is superior to all other cultures. This is false. I teach that Christianity – as Jesus taught and revealed it, as God designed for human beings to live with love for God and others, where every person is renewed in heart to be fully trustworthy, where God’s laws are written on the hearts of every citizen and people have genuine freedom – is a culture that is superior to every other.
Thus, I am not “defending” the USA. I have said over and over again that all human governments are described in Scripture as beasts and use the beastly methods of coercion to force their way. This includes the USA.
What I believe and teach is beautifully described in this quotation from the book Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 386:
No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan’s circle the poor souls who have been deluded by his deceptions. It places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise.
“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. All are brought nigh by His precious blood.” (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:13.)
So we want to take forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of equality of all people as children of God, the message of love, which demolishes every wall of separation, including cultural walls that teach racial or national superiority, and all culture that promotes caste division, falsehoods about God, or any other culture built upon lies that enslave the minds of God’s children.
But “though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIV84)
Yes, we are in a war, a war between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, and we are to demolish everything that interferes with the kingdom of God. But the weapons we use are not worldly. We do not use the weapons of physical might and force, but the weapons of truth, love, and freedom. We convert; we do not coerce. The beastly governments of the earth coerce. So we actively seek to advance the kingdom of love and truth which will demolish culture that values:
- Entertainment and pleasure over achievement
- Physical appearance over character
- Immediate reward over delayed gratification
- Survival-of-the-fittest as a principle of living
- Demeaning and exploitation of one segment of society (sex, race, religion etc.)
- Belief without reason
- Rules over principles
- Punishment rather than protection and discipline
- Lies rather than truth
But as we advance God’s kingdom with truth and love, as we convert people, they will truly be changed – lies will be replaced by truth, fear with confidence, selfishness with love, superstitions with reality-based understanding. People will leave behind all culture that is out of harmony with God’s kingdom and enter into the only culture that matters: the culture of heaven.
So, writer from the U.K., I hope you will see this blog, reexamine what I have said, reconsider your concerns, as they are not representative of this ministry nor what I teach, and then join us in taking the gospel of Jesus to the world.
Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, international speaker, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association. He is President and Founder of Come and Reason Ministries and has served as President of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.