Culture & Religion: “A food for thought.”
Excerpt from the Thesis Submitted to The University of Roehampton in fulfillment of Masters of Theology & Leadership – By Rev. Alayode
I agree with the Lussane Movement concerning the culture of love for God’s handiwork. “The history of the Church shows that Christianity does not have one cultural expression” (Francis I, 2013). Our ability to accommodate others with a genuine love of God is what makes us Godly. At the same time, our enmity or dislike for any culture is hatred against God and his handwork. How can we claim to be a Christian if we have no regard for all creatures?
Culture is people’s way of life. It consists of customs, values, and beliefs. Looking at this from a different perspective, five children from the same parent may have different passions; some may love hunting, fishing, and farming, while others like reading, singing, or dancing. Peoples’ way of life may be different even when they have similar DNA. Individuals’ ability to accept others as they are is cultural sensitivity; making a set of twins to think, choose, act, and perceive the world alike is impossible. Similarly, mission and theology may fail to achieve their God’s given goal if the world is seen as mononucleosis.
Our incarnate Christ left his domain – a culture where righteousness and holiness reigns to become one of us in this world. He set a unique example of why we should accept others despite differences. “We must love all that God has chosen to bless, which includes all cultures” (Lusanne Movement, 2011:7b).
Acceptance of others with love and respect for their culture is a sign of a genuine love of God. “For God so love the world” (John 3:16). Though the culture of this world seems corrupted by the advent of Satan, God still loves. Despite the stubbornness of human and their sinful nature, God still gave Jesus to redeem the world. In fact, “the day of Pentecost resulted in unity in which personal particularities and community identities were not lost but respected; indeed, people heard the good news in several languages” World Council of Churches, 2013). Then, what shall we say?
Should we practice the theology that sees culture as a yardstick for being a real Christian? No, God forbid; “Our calling is to point all to Jesus, rather than to ourselves or our institutions; we need to look out for the interests of others rather than our own” (Philippians Word Council of Churches, 2013).
Francis I, 2013. Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel, Vatican: Holy See,115-118, ‘A people of many faces.’ [Online] Available at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii gaudium.html#The_joy_of_the_gospel [Accessed 28 03 2017].
Lausanne Movement, 2011. The Cape Town Commitment: Part I, Section 7 (B) ‘We love the world of nations and cultures.’ [Online] Available at: https://www.lausanne.org/content/ctc/ctcommitment [Accessed 28 03 2017].
The Bible, 1987. New International Version. Michigan: Grand Rapids.