Question to Ponder – Church and Culture

Jesus interacted with a bunch of people, but primarly two groups – the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees it could be said shared a basic understanding and worldview with Jesus. They believed in the Scriptures, and God and the comming messiah. Jesus argued and castigated them for their blindness to their sin and called them to repent. He did that with passion you can read in the gospels. The Sadducees we don’t know as much about, but the general construction is rich and powerful religious/political elites who didn’t believe in much beyond their power. The story in Mark 12:18-27 records an exchange. I can’t read it without reading disdain dripping from the Sadducees. The were not so much asking Jesus a question or entering into debate with him as mocking him and his understanding. Jesus’ answer to them lacks the passion of the Pharisees. He mocks back in a way and simply claims – “You are badly mistaken.”

In the past the church would interact with the culture and cultural leaders as if they were Pharisees. It would be very heated. It would call for repentance and even engage with it. The Christian left would trumpet the social gospel and the christian right would try to build the Kingdom or the Shining City. Maybe both errors in their way, but passionate engagements with the larger culture that shared a belief in at least scriptural morality. Has not our culture turned into the Sadducees? The church no longer shares a common worldview or set of presuppositions as the culture. Will not church and culture interaction turn more toward the cooler – “you are badly mistaken” forms of interaction? Of course the Sadducees ceased to be in AD70. Sadducee parties have a tendency to cease to be. Good news for the church, but bad news for the West?

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