Do Christians Always Have to Be Countercultural?

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)

The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision included some thoughtful responses from evangelicals who don’t support it. Mark Galli’s is pretty good. So is this piece by Carey Nieuwhof, a useful list of things for anti-SSM church leaders to keep in mind.

I do think Nieuwhof oversells his first point, “the church has always been countercultural”:

If you think about it, regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian are counter-cultural and always will be. If your views are cultural, you’re probably not reading the scriptures closely enough.

All your views? I have some personal sympathy for the idea of counterculturalism as a first principle; as a young musician I was at least as invested in being bohemian as I was in actually writing songs. But I don’t think this works for the church.

To be sure, Christianity rightly includes a measure of counterculturalism. Russell Moore spoke to this well when the Pew religious affiliation numbers came out, noting the problems mainliners and evangelicals alike have had in failing to distinguish ourselves from the wider culture. But when we do define ourselves against it at all, we tend to have particular elements of the culture in mind. A certain sort of social conservative disparages “the world”; a certain sort of neo-Anabaptist rails against “the state”; a certain sort of peace-and-justice liberal lays blame at the feet of “the economic system.” These targets may overlap but are clearly not the same, and even combined they don’t include the entirety of the culture.

If all your views are countercultural, then you aren’t really engaging the culture at all, other than to oppose it; you are infinitely more sect than church. I don’t think this is what Nieuwhof has in mind.

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SOURCE: The Christian Century
Steve Thorngate

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