Thursday, January 17, 2013

What We Can't Not Know

This is a wise book. It probably won’t convince the unconvinced, but it’ll help the likeminded to think more clearly.

A little section near the end of the book especially caught my attention. In it, Budziszewski (pronounced Boojeeshefski) gives some suggestions on how not to engage culture.

By this he means not engaging the culture at all. Rather, enjoying your own subculture – “preaching to the choir.” This approach can activate one’s base but it won’t win hearts and minds. It will however activate and enrage the other camp’s base.

Pearl casting
This is a way of trying to engage the culture but without speaking the language of the culture. Quoting Scripture is a great way to settle a disagreement – as long as the debate is with someone who recognizes the authority of Scripture (though even then it can be tricky!). But what is the use of appeals to biblical authority when you’re in dialogue with people who don’t recognize that authority? When Paul preached in a pagan setting he did not immediately quote Scripture. Rather, he started from the truths that his audience already recognized.

This approach focuses on getting people converted to Christ. Nothing wrong with that! But as a means of cultural engagement it’s lacking. Our society will probably never be made up of mostly Christian people. And even those who have been converted need to have their minds renewed. Finally, some who will never turn to God can still side with us in cultural conflict – if we will give them the opportunity.

While it is important to speak the language of the culture with which we engage, we must continue to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable allies and grounds for cooperation. We cannot appeal to just any motives that might lead people to common ground. Rather, we must appeal to true and good common beliefs and motives.