Author Archives: David de Bruyn

Pagan Culture and Apostate Culture

Pagan Culture and Apostate Culture

This entry is part 34 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

In discussions of evangelizing the post-modern West, something is often forgotten. Those cultures which were formed by Christianity and have since abandoned it are not reverting to paganism. They are not pagan cultures. They are apostate cultures, and an apostate culture is a much scarier animal than a pagan one. C.S. Lewis wrote on how… Continue Reading

Missionaries and Culture

Missionaries and Culture

This entry is part 33 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Missionaries do their work in a perilous environment. Such has been the rise of ideas such as “multi-culturalism”, that many missionaries now go by a different title: aid–workers, social-workers, educators, or even consultants. Opting for different titles is understandable. In the popular imagination, missionary is increasingly synonymous with colonialist, imperialist, or patronizing religious types “forcing” their… Continue Reading

We Don’t Want Your White Man’s Religion

We Don’t Want Your White Man’s Religion

This entry is part 32 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

In Africa, particularly where black nationalist sentiments arise, it is not uncommon to hear the title of this post thrown around in conversation. Similarly, half-formed sentiments are uttered about missionaries who replaced the harmonious earth-religion of the peaceful indigenous people with their foreign religion, so as to steal their land and subjugate them. The saddest… Continue Reading

Christian Culture in Church History

Christian Culture in Church History

This entry is part 31 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A common error in the study of church history is to seek to find a version of one’s present branch of Christianity in the past. Since Christian doctrine and practice develop over the centuries, trying to find oneself in church history is like trying to find out how people in Shakespeare’s era texted one another,… Continue Reading

Two Exams, and Two Questions

Two Exams, and Two Questions

I present my children with two written tests. They open the envelope of the first, and see the heading, “Dad Orthodoxy”. A series of questions about me follows, which they find delightfully easy. “What is your father’s first name?” “What color are your father’s eyes?” “What is your father’s favorite meal?” “Where did your father… Continue Reading

Culture, Not Race

Culture, Not Race

This entry is part 30 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Scripture does not define the word culture, but it certainly describes the phenomenon of culture-making. Humans are meaning-making creatures, who fashion their world after their values, religions, and world-views. The Bible also describes the behavior or way of life that comes from a certain culture. The Greek word anastrophe is translated conduct, or way of… Continue Reading

Culture – More Than Creation

Culture – More Than Creation

This entry is part 29 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

If the word culture is to be useful, it must define something. It must name and describe a discrete phenomenon in the world. A useful definition must limit its subject, so that we could easily say what is not culture. The problem with many definitions found in Evangelical literature is that they seem to include… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words – “Culture”

Ten Mangled Words – “Culture”

This entry is part 28 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Jackhammers are not the ideal tool for mixing cake batter. Some mess will almost certainly result. Evangelical Christians using the word ‘culture’ often remind one of a baker with a such a power tool. When most Evangelicals begin writing or speaking on culture, one winces. A migraine is certainly on its way. The word culture,… Continue Reading

Relevance in the Eye of the Beholder

Relevance in the Eye of the Beholder

This entry is part 27 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A book on chastity may not seem relevant to teenagers necking in a parked car. First-aid kits don’t seem relevant to two boys beginning a scuffle. Wedding vows don’t appear relevant to a person plunging into an affair. When we are morally committed to a course of action, it narrows the horizon of what we… Continue Reading

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

“Why this waste?”, said the greediest member of the Twelve. Judas’ supposed concern with helping the poor and for efficient use of ministry finances was really a facade for his unvarnished envy. Judas wanted money, and like every jealous soul, disliked money being spent lavishly on someone else. The sentiment that it is frivolous waste… Continue Reading

Relevance and Notoriety

Relevance and Notoriety

This entry is part 26 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

One of the powerful spells cast over the modern world is the charm of celebrity. One quipped that a celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous, but few stop to notice that. Celebrity culture is the true opiate of the masses, and if it were not so, the word paparazzi would never have… Continue Reading

Relevance and Intelligibility

Relevance and Intelligibility

This entry is part 25 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Modern Christian champions of relevance mean many things by the term. One use is the concept of intelligibility. When calling for the church to be relevant to this generation, they mean that its message must be understandable, clear, and intelligible. Thus far, no objection. No command exists to make the Gospel obscure or arcane. If… Continue Reading

Relevance and Importance

Relevance and Importance

When some people speak of “making Christianity relevant”, they are referring to demonstrating Christianity’s importance and applicability. They fret over the fact that unbelievers and the wider culture dismiss Christianity and religion so easily. Secularism provides people with enough food, shelter, conveniences, comforts and sufficient diversionary amusements to keep them from truly investigating the claims… Continue Reading

Relevant or Current?

Relevant or Current?

This entry is part 24 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When some people speak of the importance of relevance, they don’t mean relevance at all. After all, relevant, strictly speaking, merely means ‘pertinent to the matter at hand’. Relevance needs an object: relevant to whom or what matter?, we may ask. The fact that some people use the word relevant as a quality not requiring… Continue Reading

“Relevance”

“Relevance”

This entry is part 23 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Perhaps one of the great put-downs today is to be told that your church is not relevant, or that your preaching is not relevant to “the issues people are facing”. Being called irrelevant cuts a little deeper than being called intolerant; for if you’re cited for being intolerant, it merely means your teaching may have… Continue Reading

Without Wax

Without Wax

This entry is part 22 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

To recover the word sincerity from its current mangled form, we might remember some etymology. The etymology of sincerity is a favorite among preachers, and for good reason – it’s an interesting tale. It seems in the Graeco-Roman world, unscrupulous merchants had found a nifty way to sell otherwise useless cracked pottery. By using wax,… Continue Reading

As Real As I Feel

As Real As I Feel

This entry is part 21 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

An assumption of a generation intoxicated with authenticity is the notion that feelings don’t lie. Given their spontaneous and often uncontrollable nature, emotions are seen as the inevitable and unstoppable eruptions of the heart. Breaking through the surface layer of ‘masks’, ‘forms’, or some other supposed act of evading one’s inner truth, emotions represent pure,… Continue Reading

Sincerity and Profanity

Sincerity and Profanity

This entry is part 20 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Many pastors and Christian leaders believe they are purifying Christianity and worship when they remove any kind of formality from corporate worship. Formal dress, an exalted tone in prayer, or reverent music are eschewed for a more casual and informal approach. They appear to believe that retaining forms that are not immediately recognizable or penetrable… Continue Reading

The Colloquial, the Casual, and the Crafted

The Colloquial, the Casual, and the Crafted

Those who call for ‘authenticity’, ‘realness’, and ‘sincerity’, are not always sure what they mean, if you press them for a definition. Some mean honesty, some others mean integrity, both of which are virtues the Bible commends and commands. But some of those calling for authenticity are really calling for a removal of formality from… Continue Reading

What Titus Found in the Most Holy

What Titus Found in the Most Holy

This entry is part 19 of 34 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When Titus attacked Jerusalem in 66-70 A.D., before ordering its destruction, Titus entered the Most Holy Place to see for himself what was really hidden behind that veil. He found, to his dismay, nothing, besides the Mercy Seat. There was “nothing there”. Titus is like many modern Christians, intoxicated with the idea of ‘sincerity’, ‘authenticity’,… Continue Reading