When God gave the Ten Commandments, the second was about not making idols. When we get to places like 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul commends the believers for turning to God from idols. God made it clear in the OT, and the apostles upheld the teaching, that idolatry was wrong in all its forms. Have you ever asked the question, “Why didn’t God just say something like, ‘Don’t make idols of those false gods. Instead, make idols of Me, the true God.’”? In other words, why didn’t God tell His people in the middle of very idolatrous cultures to simply be Monotheistic Idolaters, or Christian Idolaters?
It is because there are parts of culture which cannot be redeemed. We cannot take some things from the surrounding culture, add the adjective “Christian,” and be OK. If the Thessalonians had become “Christian Idolaters,” they would have been more idolaters than Christians. The right way for them to be different from the surrounding culture was not to be idolaters in a Christian way, but to not be idolaters at all.
So what now? Obviously it is a difficult and complex task to look at our culture in that way, but it is a requirement. Pastors are fond of saying that Christianity is not easy-most of them have probably not meant that the faith is intellectually difficult. But it is.
As one offering on my part for what falls into the category of “unredeemable cultural bit,” I offer postmodernism. When one understands what postmodernism really means, I think they will come to the conclusion that postmodernism and the church are diametrically opposed on all important matters. (I have written quite a bit on this in this blog, and will unquestionably write more.) If a church or a person were to become “Postmodern Christians” they are either not actually postmodern, or they are not Christian at all. I know it is popular to be a “Postmodern Church,” but popularity has very little to do with truth or goodness.