Monastic Cultural Separatism?

Monastic: a strictly disciplined self-abnegating life of secluded contemplation

Cultural: of or relating to all socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and products of human work and thought considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population

Separatism: the act of advocating separation

While modern evangelicals do not build monasteries in the old sense of the word, we have in effect severed all ties with the surrounding world and culture. We now have Christian art, Christian music, Christian Movies, Christian Sports, and we even have Christian romance novels. Did I mention Christian satellite TV? One could almost literally go through their entire day without consuming or coming in contact with anything tainted by the secular world. Sadly, this is not what Christ had in mind when He prayed the “The High Priestly Prayer” (John 17). Christ never desired for His church to be monastically separated from the world (John 17:15).

There is yet another extreme to this equation; a church that has completely severed all ties with what has historically been considered the church; a church that has embraced the surrounding culture and abandoned Biblical theology in an attempt to become more appealing. Quite to the contrary, Christ prayed that God would sanctify us in the Truth, the Word of God. Their desire for cultural relevance has led them to forsake the very thing they need.

The church was not called in to monastic cultural separatism but to radical cultural transformation. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). We are not to conform to the ideological patterns of this world; we are called to be transformed through building a Biblical worldview. This is the cultural work that we have before us: not to separate ourselves from secular culture, nor to embrace secular culture, but to transform secular culture.

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25

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