Be Salt and Light in This World
Personal Reflection and Thoughts:
I remember in class when Dr. Clymer talked about how if meat has too much salt then it looses it saltiness, and no one can eat it. But I don't remember much more out that. Yet, is obvious about the light. We are not to be ashamed of being Christian, rather we are to show our faith, and so that people will see the truth, and hopefully become Chrsitian.
From Biblical Ethics: Choosing Right in a World Gone Wrong, we will look at James P. Eckmans’s four models in how Christians interact in the world, and discuss his evaluation on each model.
Outline of the Lesson:
I. The Separational Model – “Christians must withdraw from any involvement in the world” (cf. Matthew 6:24; I Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:15).
A. Historical Examples
1. “During [Constantine’s critical decree in a.d. 313] Christians refused to serve in the Roman army, to participate in pagan entertainment, and to bow to Caesar as lord. Christians were antagonistic and separated from the culture and yet sought to win unbelievers to Christ.”
2. Anabaptist who began their movement in the 16th century and are known as the Mennonites and Amish.
1. “First, separatism can quickly lead to asceticism, a lifestyle of self-denial that ends up denying the goodness of God’s creation.”
2. “Second, this model easily produces a dangerous sacred/secular dichotomy” (cf. I Corinthians 10:31; I Corinthians 5:9-11).
II. The Identification Model – A Christian can “live both in the kingdom of God and in the world” (cf. Gen. 41:41-43; Dan. 6:1-4; Romans 13:1-7).
A. Historical Examples
1. Constantine’s Empire in 313 A.D.
2. Medieval Times
3. “Another example is modern civil religion, which sees the nation-state as ordained by God for a special redemptive mission. American religious leaders like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, and Lyman Beecher believed that God chose America to be the savior of the world, a chosen people to accomplish redemptive purposes for all humanity.”
1. “It emphasizes the “this-worldly” character of the Christian life.”
2. It can affirm the good in this world because it is “ultimately good.”
3. It shows that “God is at work in and through the cultural institutions—the state, business, and even the arts.”
1. There can be complacency and blindness to cultural sins that creep into institutions.
2. The church can lose its prophetic stance.
III. The Transformational Model – “This model takes the transforming power of Christ and applies it to culture. Despite the fallen nature of humanity and the subsequent curse on creation, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection reversed the curse for both humans and culture” (cf. Isa. 65; Rom. 5:12-21; Romans 8:19-22).
A. Historical Examples
1. John Calvin’s Geneva
2. Puritans in Massachusetts
1. The gospel can change people and culture.
1. “[It] can neglect the radical nature of sin’s devastation.”
2. In the end, people are still enslaved to sin on this side of heaven.
IV. The Incarnation Model – “Robert Webber proposes a synthesis of all three models as the best alternative” and is based on Jesus’ life.
A. How does a Christian live this model out?
1. “First, the Christian always lives with tension, the tension between what is transformable and that from which he or she must separate. For example, there are many good structures in the culture—art, economics, sports, vocations. Yet there are always the evil distortions of those good structures—pornography, greed, workaholism, idolatry. The Christian should identify with the good structures and seek their transformation but always separate from those evil distortions.
2. “Second, there is no simple formula for living with or resolving this tension… What are some examples of this tension? In seeking to identify with the cultural structures, while separating from their evil distortions, should a Christian own a television set, listen to non-Christian music, darn socks or throw them away?... How Christians personally resolve this tension should produce a healthy biblical tolerance, a thankfulness for the multiplicity of expressions of Christianity… Agreeing to disagree on such matters guards against unhealthy legalism and promotes a healthy dialogue about living within a non-Christian culture…Christians must always reconcile the tension of identifying with cultural institutions, seeking to separate from culture’s evil distortions, all the while seeking culture’s transformation. How we live with that tension is a mark of spiritual maturity.