Engaging the Culture: A Biblical Perspective

345px-ChristCleansingI recently had a conversation with someone regarding the Jehovah’s Witness position on the celebration of holidays. For those who are not familiar with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they prohibit their members from celebrating holidays, both secular and religious, because many popular holidays have an apparent pagan origin and seek to exalt humans instead of God. A quick keyword search on their website provides a breakdown of their claims against specific holidays.

I mention the Jehovah’s Witness position not because I wish to debate the origin of any holiday or festive practice, but because it reflects a bigger and more important issue at hand. The overarching theme behind this issue is the relationship between culture and faith. How can we, as Christians, engage the culture while effectively and faithfully proclaiming the gospel? Are we able to find any points of contact between a culture and the gospel while evangelizing and catechizing?

The Jehovah’s Witness position on these questions is a strict one. Anything originating from pagan customs is automatically and permanently unclean. However, what does the Bible tell us? Are there elements in non-Christian cultures that can act as a springboard for evangelization? (continue reading…)