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You might have read my past article about the difference between systematic theology and biblical theology.

In this article, I’m going to explain another category of theology and how we should be using it to help our cities.  It is called Theology in Culture.

I first learned about Theology in Culture in a course put out by BILD, International.

Here’s the breakdown:

Systematic Theology

  1. The scholar asks a question.
  2. Finds the answer by using many various verses/passages on the subject.
  3. Builds a doctrine based on the evidence.

Biblical Theology

  1. The Christian reads an entire book of the Bible.
  2. Looks for themes and topics of teaching which the author emphasized.
  3. Builds doctrines which are results of a plain reading, using literary context as well as historocultural context.

Theology in Culture (Subset of Systematic Theology)

  1. The Christian leader assesses the culture to find out what questions are most important to the people, Christian or not.
  2. Follows systematic theology techniques and collects data from verses/passages of Scripture.
  3. Builds a doctrine based on principles found in Scripture, and applies them to our culture’s real life situations.

Our Generational Responsibility

shoesIt is every generation’s responsibility to take a hard look at our culture and find answers to the questions the people are asking.

Unfortunately, most of us Christians spend so much time trying to figure out things like whether we were predestined to believe in Christ or had free will, that we forget a very important fact:  Theology is not just an exercise meant to satisfy our academic curiosities.

Theology is about knowing God, learning how to live as He wants us to live, and becoming a godly resource to our community.

Theology in Culture is about the latter purpose.  We need to be able to provide answers to questions about homosexuality, immigration, poverty and poverty alleviation, racial tension, use of technology, welfare, and things like that.

Our culture wants and needs these answers.  Secular structures all around us are already trying to come up with answers.  It’s time we as Christians become knowledgeable about our culture and offer those answers through the wisdom of God, and not just the wisdom of man.

So this is how we should utilize Theology in Culture:

Love our Neighbors

As we seek answers to questions about poverty and poverty alleviation, and race discrimination, and the like, we begin to understand what our neighbors go through.

Whether you are a Caucasian American learning about the privilege you’ve experienced all your life or a minority learning about the peace and compassion which can come from the majority, understanding one another is the first step in loving one another.

When we enter into discussions which are very important to those around us, we gain respect if our input is reasonable.  And we gain friendship if our input is valuable.

Seek to find answers to our culture’s questions, if for no other reason than to love your neighbors.  Build authentic relationships.

We gain respect if our input is reasonable. And we gain #friendship if our input is valuable. Click To Tweet

Interact with Politics

girl cityPolitics is a part of all of our lives whether we decide to pay attention or not.

And it’s part of the discussion in our culture whether we decide to participate or not.

The presidential election coming up in November is an example of something that everyone is talking about, which deals with major issues in the world – energy crisis, financial redistribution vs. capital gains, immigration, even faith itself has become important in the debates.

We must use Theology in Culture if we are going to be able to add to the discussion with any intelligence.

Take immigration as an example.  The Bible does not say whether we should kick immigrants out, make naturalization easier or allow illegals to obtain rights.  But it does give us principles about treating people from foreign lands with respect, dignity, and compassion.

Through those principles, we can come up with policies and viewpoints which are not Republican, not Democratic, but Christian.

Participate in Causes

Photo credit: Woody H1 via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Woody H1 via Foter.com / CC BY

When we understand and love our neighbors, and we’ve come to comprehend the political issues at hand, we can begin to advocate for those in need.

As we learn about the effects of poverty, the tragedy of gentrification, the destruction of abuse, and the horrors of substance abuse, we must learn about the principles laid out in Scripture.

When we see the injustices based on those principles, we can fight for those who are suffering.

Karen Mortimer ministers to gentrified peoples in Denver, CO.  She says that Christians must be willing and able to operate within the confines of secular structures if they really want to get anything done.

Every now and again, you’ll get a Martin Luther King, Jr, who can rally churches to combat injustice (and even he was on the border between politician and minister).

But most of us will fight the battles for our communities through city hall meetings, grassroots political groups, PTA meetings, and boards or committees.

When we understand and #love our neighbors, we can begin to #advocate for those in need. Click To Tweet

Teach it to Our Churches

And finally, those of us who can do Theology in Culture well must understand that not everyone can.

Most Christians don’t even understand their knowledge deficit.  Most don’t know much about current events or the important political controversies of our day.

It is our job to educate those people.  Emphasize these issues in our churches because even if they are ignorant about cultural problems, they are still responsible to love their neighbors and interact with our people for Christ.

And if they don’t know how to have a conversation with someone about basic cultural issues and find something in common with the everyday man or woman, then they will make themselves irrelevant.

And worse, they’ll make Christ irrelevant.

So teach with all your heart, and build our church up to answer the most important questions of our day.

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