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Holiness in Culture

The Bible is clear with regard to the behavior of Christians—it is to be holy. James states of a Christian, “by his good conduct (anastrophēs) let him show his works” (Jas 3:13). Likewise Peter commands Christians to “be holy in all [their] conduct (anastrophē)” (1 Peter 1:15), and Paul commands Timothy to set an example “in conduct (anastrophē)” (1 Tim 4:12). These commands do not apply only in “sacred” things, but in all of life. A Christian is a new creation with new values (2 Cor 5:17), and those values will affect every aspect of his culture. For example, after commanding believers to put off the “old self, which belongs to [their] former [culture]” (Eph 4:22), Paul details several different areas in which the new self will manifest itself, including relationships with neighbors (v. 25), work ethic (v. 28), and communication (v. 29). The outcome of new values is new culture in every aspect of life.

Thus, Kuyper may have been correct when he talked about distinctly Christian approaches to the various spheres of life. His most famous statement is certainly true when understanding culture as behavior: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Christian values will produce carpentry, justice, rhetoric, and music that are influenced by their Christian values, although even unbelievers can do the same because of common grace and if they borrow from the Christian worldview. Perhaps VanDrunen is right that calling such things “Christian” is misleading, but the underlying sentiment is scriptural: any behavior that is an expression of biblical values can rightly be called “biblical.” If “Christian” is not the best adjective for reasons raised by VanDrunen, perhaps “holy” best reflects the Bible’s admonitions.

By the Waters of Babylon, 113.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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