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Christians talk a great deal about reaching the culture and influencing the culture. But Christians often take a simplistic view of culture, neglecting the social dynamics of how culture works. So I appreciate my fellow Patheos blogger Dean Abbott, at The Road Home for bringing up the role of social class and social status. I want to say a little bit more about the topic.
Mr. Abbot has written a provocative post entitled “Engaging the Culture Doesn’t Work Because Christian Beliefs Are Low Status”. Here is a sample of his argument, followed by my own thoughts:
Evangelicals - Fact - Belief - Mark - Status
Evangelicals have failed to reckon with the fact that Christian belief is a mark of low status, and has been so for a long time. This has been the case at least since the Scopes trial and the unflattering media portrayals of traditional Christian believers that accompanied it.
In the middle of the 20th century, it was more difficult to see Christian belief as a marker of low status. After all, during that period America was still dominated by a form of Christianity as its civil religion. Some religious figures were widely admired, Billy Graham being the most obvious example. Millions of people still attended church.
Circles - Belief - Mark - Status - Places
But, even then, in elite circles, Christian belief was a mark of low status. In such places, traditional Christian belief was largely considered the province of the weak, the bourgeois, the misinformed, the gullible or the wicked. At the same time, Protestant liberalism dominated. This less stringent form of Christianity sought to relax the tension by accommodating traditional Christian belief to the worldview of America’s secular elite. Eventually, that project failed. . . .
The idea behind the “engaging the culture” movement was that, rather than withdrawing from the surrounding culture as their fundamentalist cousins did, evangelicals should go forth to meet it....
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