The Bible vs. Culture

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Yea! As the temperature drops, so are the gas prices! According to, it is currently 35 degrees here, and the price for a gallon of cheap gas is currently $2.159. Life is good.

Oh, how I wish that were true. Of course, the temp and gas prices are true, I just wish that low temps and gas prices were all that were needed for life to be good. In actuality, life is a complex tangle of religion, culture, money, sex, emotions, love, hate, idols, blogs, and work. And don't forget you have to sleep and eat!

OK, on with long-winded meandering intros... let me get to what I wanted to talk about: The Bible vs. Culture! [cue dramatic music]

I could start this off many ways, but for once, instead of taking the scenic route and telling you how I got here, I am going to just jump in.

I have realized recently that one of my problems is that I am attending two very different, very radical churches. By day I go to Argyle United Methodist Church, a sweet little traditional church in small town suburbia. By night I go to Denton Bible Church, a contemporary Bible-centered soon-to-be-mega-church.

While there are many ways you can compare (and contrast, thanks Mrs. Lampo) these two churches, one particular thing has recently stood out to me: how each church relates the Bible to culture.

(Warning: In the following paragraphs I will be making generalizations. Don't take my descriptions literally, I am exaggerating to make a point.)

DBC is on one extreme. They follow the Bible, period. They take the Bible very literally, and while they do make their teachings relevant to today's culture, their interpretation of the Bible is in no way influenced by current culture. This makes a lot of sense to me, because the Bible is the core of my religion. The Bible is God's word, his instructions for life (while cliche, it is true: the Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). But I don't agree with everything that they preach. I don't take the creation story literally, and I am not a Calvinist.

On the other extreme is AUMC. They preach culture with no influence of the Bible. (Again, I am exaggerating to the extreme.) They take culture as the truth and try to bend the Bible around it. For example, it doesn't matter that Paul said "I would NEVER let a woman stand up in front of a co-ed group and teach" (paraphrased, of course), Methodists say "It is cultural suicide to say that a woman can't do something that a man can do, so therefore it is OK for a woman to teach church".

OK, well, I was going to give a few more examples, but as it tends to happen at 4 AM, my mind has hit a brick wall (or "blogger's block" as I like to call it). But I will still ask my ending question: What should I do? Sometimes I feel informed about both sides so that I can choose my own way, sometimes I feel torn and damned by both sides for not being on one extreme or the other. Wouldn't just going to one church be better for me? For that matter, what denomination am I? I grew up Methodist, but I can now see that I am not as liberal as they tend to be... but on the other hand, I am also not as conservative as Denton Bible is.

To answer my own question: I think it is is getting close to the time where I have to sever my ties with both churches, and find a church that can call my own. I haven't been a member of a church since before High School (I am not even a member at the church that I work for), and it is getting time for me to come home to a place that I can trust. Don't worry Joe, I won't be suddenly dropping out of AUMC or DBC, but I hope to, over a few years, migrate from a segregated church life to a new church home. Where that will take me, I don't know... but isn't that precisely the paradigm of life?



Matt said...

First of all, Denton Bible is CALVINIST?! That surprised me a lot... Bible Churches usually aren't.

The purpose of church is three-fold. Firstly, it is a body of people who are united in their worship of God. Secondly, it is a place for you to love God by ministering to His people (like what you're doing in AV). Lastly, (modern society says this is MORE important, but they're wrong), it is a place for you to be taught about God from a person who has God's blessing to TELL you what the right interpretation is.

I would encourage you to find a pastor who you can submit to. A pastor is a person who has been given authority by God to interpret scripture and to judge his local congregation. By dividing yourself between two churches, you're not really submitted to either pastor. I think it's entirely appropriate for you to be a member of one church and still minister at another church, but it's important that you have that single authority figure.

In choosing a church there are 2 primary criterion. Most important (obviously), they need to teach scripture. Not oppinions, not stories, not ABOUT scripture; they need to preach the Bible. Secondly, they need to have a good set of doctrine. Bible Churches are difficult because they don't often have a commonly accepted set of doctrine. This results in a mish-mash of members who will answer the same question a number of different ways. This is great when you're talking about the whole body of Christ (none of us has it completely right, you have to put it all together somehow), but when you're in a single congregation, there needs to be unity and there needs to be consistent teaching. If the church requires you to take a 6 week "new-member's class" before your join, that's usually a good sign. Oh, also, if the pastor does everything, that's usually a bad sign. A good, strong church has a good, strong Deacon body or Session or Elders or Presbyter or whatever they call their leadership.

Remember, it's more important that they teach the truth than that you agree with them.

I could keep going for another dozen pages or so, but that would just be pompous of me.