The fourth conclusion coming out of the idea that culture is behavior is that holy values ought to affect every aspect of a Christian’s behavior. The Bible is clear with regard to the behavior of Christians—it is to be holy. James says of a Christian, “by his good conduct (ἀναστροφῆς) let him show his works” (Jas 3:13). Likewise Peter commands Christians to “be holy in all [their] conduct (ἀναστροφῇ)” (1 Peter 1:15), and Paul commands Timothy to set an example “in conduct (ἀναστροφῇ)” (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,1 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), he details several different areas in which the new self will manifest itself, including relationship 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 distinctly Christian carpentry, Christian justice, Christian rhetoric, and Christian music, 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.
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). [↩]