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Scripture In the Culture: How Long, How Deep?

The freedom, prosperity, and quality of life of a nation can easily and most accurately be assessed by answering one question: How long have the Scriptures been seriously studied by leaders in the culture, and how much have the Scriptures penetrated their legal systems? I could stop this essay right here and say, “End of comments. This pretty much sums everything else up.” How long, how deep did God’s blueprints for personal and social life here on earth penetrate the social structures of life in any given situation?

Few things challenge me more than seeing smart people saying stupid things or saying things that contradict their trained ability to reason. I hear it all the time, especially in the midst of our current “culture wars” dealing with racism. Racism is very real and exists in every ethnic group on the planet to greater or lesser degrees. So is “cultural advantage”—the unspoken priority which the dominant ethnic group receives in the culture of their domination. For the record, racism globally goes beyond just white people. True racism is the deprecation of others, conscious or unconscious, solely on the basis of some ethnic difference. To further complicate things, classism, in addition to racism, is happening all the time. Most racism is the common, simple-minded way of exercising either indifference or one’s own unseen objectification of another human being. Classism, which really deserves a whole separate discussion, draws sharp lines between people’s perceived intelligence based upon vocabulary, education, wealth and a whole set of unspoken rules. Ultimately, people and cultures can really only correctly and comparatively be measured by what we started out with: How long and how deep did God’s Word penetrate the culture? Classism, demographics, social opportunities, natural resources, and all the other significant measuring tools are of secondary value at best. Who is superior and who is inferior? We must again go back to how much the Scriptures have permeate the culture.

To admit to this truth is the educated secularists’ greatest nightmare. If such a thing is true, then God’s wisdom must trump man’s analytical abilities. The Scripture’s sociological determinism overturns much of our current “wisdom” of cause-and-effect theory generated over the last two centuries in particular. We have many different “reasons,” ideologies, studies and “proofs” we have invented to explain social realities and human history. Ultimately, there are only two—culturally speaking, what Scripture was applied to personal and social lives, and secondly, every other explanation mankind has created to avoid and minimize God getting any credit. I am not saying our human studies do not create real points of interest; they frequently do. That said, Scripture’s penetration is, nevertheless, the point of ultimate determination.

Use It or Lose It

Beyond all this, the nations of Europe, and now the United States, are proving something else. Regardless of how much time and depth we have had with the Scriptures, especially since the Reformation, if a nation walks away from the Scriptures as a centering point, it begins to de-civilize within several generations. The ubiquitous law of “use it or lose it” casts a long shadow. People and nations can “backslide” and, through neglect, reverse the effects of Scripture applied to life. This is easily proved in Western culture as we compare and contrast where we are today in Europe and the United States in relation to where we were several hundred years ago. Interestingly, in some areas, we have made some deep social progress and have aligned ourselves more with God’s Word, such as in the case with slavery and the severe reduction in poverty. In multiple areas, however, we are deeply compromised. My sincere hope is that if you really see the reality of “how long and deep,” you will incorporate this insight and spread it as well. Things change when we do, and that is…


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