Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Gospel incarnated in subcultural form

Our theology has to speak from a cultural context. Below are some reflections on several fictional Christians.

The Christian Hippie

The Christian Hippie is entranced by the beauty of God's creation. She delights in living close to nature, experience every moment she can in woods and meadows. Believing in the sacred nature of God's creation, she likes to go barefoot as much as possible; feeling the touch of the earth that God has made.

While her non-Christian hippie friends talk about the energy of the earth, she sees the earth as permeated by the presence of God its creator and sustainer. She cannot escape the beauty of His presence.

The Christian Hippie believes that modern life is somewhat deficient. It is too far removed from creation and nature. She does not feel that humanity is living the way that God intended.

Knowing that the world is departed from God and under the sway of evil principalities and powers, she fears that the environment is under threat from pollution and climate change. She knows that not all Christians share her views on how resolve environmental issues, but she seeks to encourage her fellow Christians to take an interest in environmental issues and take seriously their responsibilities as stewards.

With her passion for nature, she tends to like organic food that she and her husband have grown themselves. She is also a vegetarian, having a lot of compassion for animals. She understands that vegetarianism is not taught in the Bible and respects those who eat meat, but her choice to abstain from eating meat is an outworking of the compassion she feels towards God's creation.

When she and her husband have children, she wants to give birth at home. She aspires to live a somewhat alternative lifestyle. She believes that Christians are called to live lives that are very different from the world and has no fear of being considered odd.

The Christian Hippie believes that spirituality is a fundamentally important part of human life. Humans were created to experience God. She feels that simply knowing theological facts is not enough and the reality of God's immanence and transcendence must be experienced.

However, the Christian Hippie is very worried about her Hippie friends. They are into paganism and Occult techniques. She fears that they are tapping into the powers of darkness. Nevertheless, she believes that there messing about in the Occult is a reflection of a genuine need for God. She believes the answer to her friends searching is the knowledge of the only true God.

The Christian Hippie believes in peace. Perhaps that is an understatement. She longs for renewal of the cosmos and all things to come to know the light of God's goodness. She takes seriously the call of her saviour to be a peacemaker. She believes that the Bible teaches pacifism. She understands that not all Christians accept the pacifist position, but she finds it hard to accept the idea of ever using violence.

The Christian Hippie has a lot of concerns about society and the environment, but she is not really interested in politics. She aspires live her life the way she believes is right and set an example, the way the first Christians did.

She wears bright coloured clothing, reflecting her optimism. Although she sees much in the world that is wrong, she is filled with hope in the God that she has come to know.


The Christian Skinhead

The Christian Skinhead identifies with the working class of his country. He wears braces, jeans and boots, just like his grandfather did when he worked in factories many years ago.

The Christian Skinhead identifies with the working class because he sees that God has chosen the poor and the humble. God has not chosen those who are clever, or wealthy or fashionable, but the humble. He aspires to be the Salt of the Earth, down to earth, simple, honest and true.

The Christian Skinhead identifies with Peter in the New Testament; an ordinary working man who was not wise or great; a man who sometimes made bad foolish decisions. Yet Peter was chosen by the Lord and the Christian Skinhead believes He was also among those chosen to serve the Lord and to be conformed to Christ.

The Christian Skinhead loves his country. He is a true patriot. While, he knows that patriotism can be an idol, he points to Paul's love for his fellow Jews as an example of patriotism. He recognises that God has providentially divided humanity into nations and he is proud of his. He sees his loyalty to his country and to his favorite football team as reflections of His greater loyalty to God.

Although he is a patriot, he rejects the racism that is common among skinheads. He believes this racism is unchristian and contrary to the true Skinhead spirit. However, he recognises that he can himself fall into the trap of prejudice. he understands that we are living in a fallen world and that prejudice is an tap to fall into when confronted with the many problems in the world. He looks to Christ for the grace to overcome prejudice.

The Christian Skinhead's values are very conservative. He believes in the values of an older generation; marriage, family and work. He believes that these values are under threat in modern liberal society. His shaved head and combat boots reflect the fact that he sees himself as engaged in war; a war against the principalities and powers that are ruining human society. Nevertheless, he looks to the coming of Jesus Christ to bring victory to the humble of the earth.

The Christian Punk

The Christian Punk is by inclination, a rebel. As a Christian, she cannot go as far as her non-Christian Punk friends in rejecting authority (knowing that God has put authorities in place) but she believes that the way authority is exercised in the earth is very wrong.

The Christian Punk takes seriously the New Testament's claim that Satan is the ruler of this world. Knowing this, she finds it hard not to suspect that governments are corrupt and that the capitalist system helps the rich and oppresses the poor. She knows that not all Christians see politics the way she does, but she seeks to challenge them not to be complacent. She fears that Christians are too inclined to settle for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. In her opinion, for the most part the church has abandoned Gospel authenticity in favour of worldly respectability.

The Christian Punk totally identifies with Jesus Christ as one who challenged human authority, both religious and secular. She believes that Jesus identified with those on the fringes of society, those that today would be scorned by the middle class.

The Christian Punk dresses to be noticed. She has several piercings that make her stand out in any crowd. Her dress displays her keen sense of irony; she often wears a ripped school tie and corporate logos on badges. She really appreciates some of the irony displayed by Jesus and the New Testament authors. She loves the way her Saviour gave clever answers to the Pharisees and Sadducees who tried to trick Him.

The Christian Punk has come to learn that sometimes her rebellious attitude is not down to moral outrage, but simply sinful pride. She has often been humbled by the grace and forgiveness shown to her by more conservative Christians on occasions when her pride took her too far. She knows that she needs to submit to the Lordship of Christ and this means being willing to submit to the correction of her brethren.

She also has learned that she needs to respect the consciences of weaker brethren. Although she feels at liberty to dress how she does, she realises that some Christians can be offended and she must recognise that. To that end she has come to see the need to dress more conservatively in church at least. She has failed in the past and caused offence, but she knows that she has found forgiveness through Christ and His blood has cleansed her from all unrighteousness.

The Christian Punk is apocalyptic in her worldview. The Sex Pistols sang that there was 'no future.' Likewise she believes that there is no future for this sinful world. She looks to Armageddon and the coming of Christ to bring an end to injustice.

The Christian Biker

Like the Christian Hippie, the Christian Biker is overawed by the beauty of God's creation. He longs to see more of it. To that end, he has travelled a lot on his motorcycle and hopes one day to travel across the whole world.

The Christian Biker is very thankful to God for the life that he has been given and he wants to live it to the full. When he rides his motorbike at high speed he feels the true thrill of life and whispers a silent prayer of thanks. He praises God with each day that comes and seeks to enjoy it to the maximum that is possible. He is thankful too that God gave man the intelligence to design such a great machine as the motorcycle!

While the Christian Biker spends a lot of time riding on his own or with his wife, he also really enjoys the company of other bikers. He frequently hangs out with his friends from the motorcycle club and attends various biker festivals around the country. He recognises that God created man for fellowship; to be a social being. In eternity God was not alone but was in the eternal fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, man reflects his creator in the need to spend time with others.

The Christian Biker loves his motorbiking buddies, but even more than they can realise in their unbelief. He knows that though they have a good time on their bikes and in their drinking and hanging out, they are lost men who are on the road to destruction. He hopes to use his time with them to witness to them and share with them the love of the Saviour that he has come to know.

As one who loves to travel, the Christian Biker finds it hard to settle in one place. He identifies with Abraham who was a pilgrim and a stranger. He has come to appreciate that the world is not his home and he must travel on until he comes to find his heavenly rest.

However, he has come to learn that he does need to settle to some extent. His wandering instinct has lead him to make some unwise decisions and he has in the past drifted from church to church. He is seeking to learn how to make a greater commitment to his present fellowship. At times, his marriage has suffered through his tendency to go off on long trips with his biker buddies. However, he has repented to his wife and is striving to be a godly husband who takes his responsibilities seriously.


The Christian Republican Voter

In a number of ways, the Christian Republican Voter has a lot in common with the Christian Skinhead. She is a patriot. She believes that America has a great and godly history and has been uniquely blessed by God. She sees no contradiction between being a patriotic American and being a faithful Christian.

The Christian Republican believes in family values. She believes that God made marriage as the fundamental building block in society. Without the god-ordained family, society would fall apart. She believes that this institution is under threat today because of the humanistic ideas that are strong in the media and education.

Unlike the Christian Punk, she has a strong belief in capitalism. This arises from her belief that hard work is taught in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Proverbs. Though she is not without concern for the poor (and she values the input of the her Punk friend in this area), she is convinced that there is no such thing as a free lunch. God has given people responsibility to serve in life and employment is a vital arena for service. Business in her view is a positive force for good in society.

The Christian Republican does not share her Hippie sister's grave concerns about the environment. In her opinion, God has created a good world that is rich in natural resources. She also believes that God has endowed man with great wisdom and thus she is hopeful that technology can deal with many of the environmental problems that arise. She feels that a little scepticism over environmentalist claims is warranted.

The Christian Republican feels that she has legitimate concerns about her younger Punk sister. She feels that at times she dresses just too provocatively. She also feels that she might show a little more discernment about some of the music she enjoys. However, she recognises that God has put believers at liberty to make judgements about what is right in some matters. In the past she has confronted her sister about these matters in a manner that was unwise and hurtful. She regretted it and asked for the Christian Punk's forgiveness for her lack of sensitivity. She is learning that sometimes it is easier to judge others with a stricter measure than one measures oneself.

5 comments:

Palm boy said...

Wow... just wow.
Nice analysis.

I'm linking to this tomorow.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks a lot!

Antonio said...

Matthew,

Did you just do this off the cuff?

Which group do you most identify with?

I enjoyed reading this post.

I have to say that these are very idealistic.

Your friend,

Antonio

Paul W said...

Hi Matthew

Very sympathetic character portraits. Are they based on real people or are they ideal types?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Paul, thanks for visiting again.

No, they are not real people.

Antonio, I had been thinking about this post for a little while.

I do not really identify with any of these people.

"I have to say that these are very idealistic."

Does'ent everybody have ideals?

I did identify areas of tension between their Christian and their subcultural identity.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew