Each year thousands of people come to carols services in church buildings, parks, schools and even pubs – but how often do you ever hear of somebody being converted? Instead of it being one of the high points of Christian Christianity it is the high point of Cultural Christianity. But Cultural Christianity seems inured to Christian Christianity.
Cultural Christianity has great advantages for Christian Christians.
- Christians believe that it is a preferable way to organise society – that in this world democracy is better than theocracy, that justice is more important than wealth, that people matter more than things.
- It makes it easy for Christians, as citizens, to make their contribution to the welfare of society.
- It means we live in a society, which is broadly sympathetic to the Christian way of life. Sending children to the State school, can be with the knowledge that public education will not undermine family education.
- It makes proclaiming the word of God easier. The community has a Christian worldview of right and wrong, of rational debate and reasoning, of verbal communication, contracts, promises and faithfulness.
- It means Christians will not be persecuted for their beliefs as happens in the atheist countries dominated by Marxism or in the Muslim or Hindu parts of the world.
- In Australia people are able to change religion without imprisonment or ostracism.
Yet, Cultural Christianity has some great disadvantages for society because it confuses people about Christian Christianity.
- So much of social and statistical analysis of Christianity is really about Cultural, not Christian, Christianity. The forthcoming census results will illustrate this confusion because it is a measure of cultural, denominational association not even of Cultural Christianity, let alone Christian Christianity.
- Christianity is attacked for what Cultural Christians do, even though what they are doing is quite contrary to Christianity.
- Christmas celebrations highlight the confusion. While many want to remove Christ out of Christmas – celebrating happy holiday instead – others want to retain Christ in Christmas but place him alongside trees, baubles, Santa and snow as if he is no different to reindeers and wrapping paper. Ultimately, syncretism is no different to atheism, just more polite.
- Worst of all it confuses many people into thinking they are Christian, because that’s their culture, even though they know very little of the reality of Christianity. They are so confused by this culture that they will not even listen to what the message of Christianity is about, assured that they already know.
For Christian Christians, the real problem that Christmas brings is the pressure to accommodate to Cultural Christianity and so modify and compromise our message.
- Compromise can come from the best of all motives – to please others so that they too may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus. But it’s usually tinged with the worst of all motives – to please others so that we may retain our place in society, being well thought of and respectable.
- So we engage in the Cultural Christianity’s myths as a means of teaching Christian Christianity’s truths – and wonder why the Cultural Christians never ‘get it’. They come back every Easter and Christmas – but they never hear the message. Is it their fault for not listening or our fault for not speaking clearly and unambiguously?
- We dare not leave out, let alone criticise, any of the Cultural Christian Christmas festivities, lest the populous chooses carols in the park rather than Christ in the church.
- In fact, we constantly are tailoring our celebrations of God become man to save us from our sins into whatever we think will draw the crowd. The emphasis for many years has been on carols rather than on Christ. But now that the Cultural Christians can do carols better than churches, some churches are adding to carols – barbecues, bangers, champagne and fireworks.
Whatever short term gain in drawing greater crowds this accommodation will not work in the long term. It will not work, because:
- accommodation confuses Cultural Christians by assuring them that their culture is acceptable, if not preferable, to Christian Christianity.
- Cultural Christianity can always do things better.
- it confuses the minor matters (Christians like a good sing-a-long, with trees and cakes and pretty lights) with the central message Christ came into the world to save sinners.
- instead of proclaiming the message it compromises it, confusing the Cultural Christians and confirming them in their self-deception that they are actually Christians.