Social Media and the Christian [1]: Theology of Culture

A few weeks ago, we had an event for the youth of First Baptist Church of Durham on Christ and Pop Culture. As part of the festivities, including all the subs you can eat and Xbox Kinect, I was asked to present on Social Media. The next few posts will be sections of the presentation. Let’s gets the party started with a Theology of Culture.

Creation, the Fall, Redemption :: Structure, Direction & Restoration

social media vintage foto'sIn Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, Albert Wolters argues convincingly that the Bible is the foundational story that defines the essence of a Christian worldview. The Bible is a narrative which defines the nature of reality itself; in it, God reveals his laws and norms for all people of all time. God holds this divine right as our creator. So we come to the Bible to learn about humanity and our world and how we should, even can, live. Wolters gives us two very important categories that are helpful in understanding how we can live Christianly as culturally embedded beings: structure and direction. (By culturally embedded, it means that we live in a particular culture, sharing with a group of people a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving in a shared environment and geographic location.)Every cultural entity, or product, can be understood in terms of its structure and its direction. You see, when we start reading the Bible, we first learn of the inherent goodness of God’s creation. God created all things, by his own powerful word, and he created it all “good”, yea, “very good!” The material world is not evil because it is material. The Bible does not create a dichotomy between evil material and good spirit—that would be Manichaeism or Platonism, not Christianity. Rather, the material world is good. God gave his created universe order and he made it pleasant and filled it with peace and beauty. Wolters calls this the “structure” of the universe. When it comes to humanity, God made us in his image (imago Dei).

By structure, Wolters meant the essence of a person, thing, activity that reflects God’s goodness. Francis Schaeffer was one of many people who reminds us that no matter how depraved a person or thing may be, because of the imago Dei, even an atheist by God’s creational will, reflects the image of God.

As we continue reading, we soon learn that all is not as it should be. Genesis 3 is as much of a true reality as is Genesis 1–2. Satan tempts Eve, she is deceived, both her and Adam fall into sin and now shame, brokenness, and curse permeate everything. The creation is not a passive recipient of all of these. God curses Satan and the Land. He is one who subjects the creation to futility. But as moral, willful beings, humanity has sided with Satan in rebellion. But even in the darkest hour of human existence, God’s redemption power is revealed in the promise of a coming “seed”, or “offspring” who will crush Satan. We learn through the rest of Scripture who that one would be—son of Abraham, son of Judah, son of David, prophet, priest, king—and we learn that he indeed defeats Satan and will remove the curse in the New Heavens and the New Earth, reigning of a New People. Humanity though is born in sin, as children of wrath, sharing in the works of the devil, in need of God’s gracious salvation. Without Jesus, humanity lives in opposition to God. Everything he does reflects that satanic opposition. This is what Wolters means by “direction.” Direction is that part of a person, thing, activity that reflects human opposition to God.

Therefore, structurally, everyone/thing reflects something of God’s goodness and the image of God; AND, directionally, everyone/thing reflects something of willful satanic rebellion against God. These two categories exist in varying degrees depending on the person/thing, but it shows why sometimes even the pagans can express some truth, exude some beauty, act somewhat good, yet be in absolute and dire need of salvation. We all need redemption! And as we are redeemed, our culture is also being redeemed, more so as we consciously seek restoration.

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3 Comments

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  1. Thanks for your work on this, Wes. I do plan to get yours up on the FB page sometime soon — as soon as I get mine part finished, which may be a few more weeks! 🙂

    • Kevin,

      Thanks again for the opportunity. No hurry on getting it on FB, take your time. I figured I hadn’t blogged in a while and I already had something in the chamber, so I posted it.

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