The Faith We Know

In what way is the faith that we know and practice a full expression of the living faith that was handed down to us by Jesus and the early apostles? 

I ask this question because I am re-examining the relationship between culture and faith.  Christians believe that the core of their faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What Christians must also remember is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been re-translated thousands of times using the linguistic idioms, symbols and mental constructs represented by a multitude of diverse cultural expressions.  Another way of looking at this issue is to ask the following question; since the first century, the Bible has been translated into how many different languages?  Each language represents a unique culture.  A culture’s language reflects and articulates its values and worldview.  When the Bible is translated into the language of a culture, that language becomes the host for the gospel message.  It is through their culture laden language that people wrestle and struggle anew with the message and meaning of the gospel.  What we know and how we know it is shaped to a great degree by the cultural language we use to understand it.

So what?  So what does it mean that the the gospel of Jesus Christ has been filtered through the following cultures:  Jewish, Greek, Roman, Northern Europeans, British, Irish, Syrian, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, American, Brazilian, Argentine, Guatemalan, Zambian, Nigerian, Algerian, Egyptian…

Another question:  what if the culture within a culture changes?  Is American culture in 2010 the same as it was in 1960, 1930, 1890?  Are the linguistic idioms, symbols and mental constructs the same?  What difference does it make for the gospel that believers in America talk about Christianity in terms of modern, post-modern, traditional, fundamentalist, liberals, millennials, emergents, etc. etc.?  What does all that language mean if culture laden language is the host for the gospel, the medium through which people struggle anew with the message and meaning of the gospel?  Are Christians open to God providing a fuller expression of the living faith that was handed down to us from Jesus and the early apostles?  Do our brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, South America and other cultures offer us more than we currently know and or practice?  If the current culture we live in has changed from the one in which we first encountered the gospel of Jesus Christ, how will we respond to those changes?  If the faith is larger and deeper than the one I know and practice, how large and how deep will I let it be for me? For others?

Just some thoughts.

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