As our nation drifts further away from biblical truth, a socially acceptable brand of Christianity is emerging. Cultural Christianity allows people to be religious without being seen as fanatical. Although their beliefs sound spiritual, they are radically different than biblical Christianity. So, while we share the term, Christian, we part ways when it comes to what we believe and how we live out those beliefs. What are the symptoms of cultural Christianity?
A Twisted View of Scripture
To the cultural Christian, truth is relative and progressive. So, while they read the Bible, it’s more of a reference book for good living, or a collection of fables with moral guidelines. They quote Scripture, but only what validates their ideology. Even then, verses are often twisted or taken out of context. And parts of the Bible are simply thought of as irrelevant for today. This approach allows individuals to pick and choose what fits their personal truth.
A Damaged View of God
A twisted view of Scripture leads to an incomplete view of God – at best. The loving parts of His character are elevated over His holiness. As a result, He is seen as a doting grandfather or an affectionate Santa Claus; whose aim is our happiness. Ravi Zacharias describes this as forcing a square peg into a round hole. “What you do in the end is just damage the edges of the peg.” When people force God into their mold, the result is a damaged view of God.
A Distorted View of Sin
Cultural Christians view personal sin as a normal part of life. So, they tolerate it, ignore it, and even joke about it. “After all,” they justify, “God knows I’m not perfect.” This attitude carries over to others. Since cultural Christians are heavily influenced by what people think, they often remain silent for fear of being offensive or intolerant. They do seem to speak up on one issue – those who speak up regarding biblical truth. Those people are quickly labeled as judgmental.
A Perverted View of Grace
Because there’s no grief over personal sin, cultural Christians misuse God’s grace to indulge in ungodly behavior. Grace becomes freedom to do whatever they want…without remorse. Jude four describes this attitude, “They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
What is Biblical Christianity?
First, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. It is absolute and unchanging truth. Scripture not only instructs us; it equips us to live the Christian life described within its pages. Next, the God of the Bible is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator. As such, we live in awe of Who He is. The result is a desire to please and glorify Jesus by submitting to His will and achieving His purposes.
Sin is grievous to the biblical Christian because it’s rebellion against God and offends His righteous and holy nature. Consequently, we must confess and repent of all personal sin, which creates an attitude of humility and gratitude for the gift of God’s grace (Romans 6:1). This unmerited favor empowers us to live in godliness, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,” (Titus 2:11–12).
Are You a Biblical or a Cultural Christian?
Here’s the obvious question – do you have any symptoms of cultural Christianity? Does your focus tend to center on yourself rather than on Christ? Are your views about God, sin, and grace unbiblical? Do you depend on current culture to discern the Bible rather than letting the Bible discern our culture?
If you answered, “Yes” to any of those questions, then one of two things is happening. 1) You’re a Christian, living under the control of your sinful nature. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul calls this being carnal or fleshly. As a result, the world is influencing your thoughts and actions. Or, 2) you are not truly a Christian. 2 Timothy 3:5 warns against, “Holding to a form of godliness, although they deny its power…” Don’t settle for just being religious or spiritual. Cultural Christianity is a poor substitute for being a fanatical follower of Jesus Christ.