This web site discusses the concept of Christ Culture and how to establish it and/or re-invigorate, within our Christian communities today, the Four Gospel Culture of the first century church combined with the Holy Spirit driven Presence of Truth in Community.
Jesus Followers can claim the untapped or underused Presence of the Holy Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit to energize us and lead us - in whatever organization and/or group we're currently members of - working evangelically and missionally across congregational lines. The goal is to re-establish a first century-like Christ Culture, based on a Gospel that wraps around all Christian sub cultures, which touch all that Jesus Christ touched, taught and lived, including (but not limited to) the unnecessary distinctions between empire and province; nation and state; religious and secular; politico and consumer; healed and unhealed; persecutor and martyr, 99% and 1%; ruler and laity; homeless poor and coping middleclass; families and singles; married and divorced; adolescent and child.
If we as Christians are active in any one of these sub-cultures, and we want to be part of truthful positive changes by modeling Christ's behavior, we need solid program design, hard work, and the Holy Spirit's guidance. Because all sub-cultures are connected to each other, a change in one pushes and pulls the others. A good example is the Season of Service here in Portland Oregon (led by the Luis Palau Association).
How do we start? By understanding the Gospel rollout in the first century; reading the Parable of the Messiah Scrolls and seeing how Christ Culture influenced the inter-connected sub-cultures of its day. Our models are very clear: each of the four Gospels addressed all sub-cultures, yet each exhibits its own special Christology, as suggested here:
(1) Understand the meaning (hermeneutic) of the Gospel words our Lord spoke, which were then inspirationally scribed by four of His Apostles and canonized in the first century to become the Gospel Culture of Jesus Christ (e.g.,Christ Culture), containing truthful evidence of:
(a) Jesus the Messiah fulfilling the promise to Israel as a basis for forming the Christ Culture (Matthew),
(b) Christ Culture to emphasize Jesus Follower missional activism and prediction of apocalypse (Mark),
(c) Christ Culture to include Jesus Follower discipling praxis, including Jesus' governance of the Christ Culture formed by Paul's evangelical/missional journeys (Luke and Acts), and
(d) Christ Culture to include Jesus Follower Holy Spirit Presence (John) including the factual reality of eternal life for Jesus Followers within the Kingdom of God (Matthew - Sermon on the Mount)).
(2) Use this New Testament and its centerpiece the Gospel, these words, verses and parables of Jesus in the following truthful realities:
(a) to understand and be transformed by a Holy Spirit led, born again disciple-ready life, and
(b) to confront Satan and his evils, missionally, in each of our daily lives, as well as in the implementation of justice within world life events.
These truthful Gospel realities help inform and regenerate souls and infuse spirits, giving renewed life to the ancients in the first century and giving renewed life to us moderns in twenty-first century.
The Parable of the Messiah Scrolls web-book, in a literary sense, illustrates both the writing of the New Testament, and the way the first century Jesus Followers lived the Word; infusing God's Mission within the Christ Culture, which demanded faithfulness from the fledgling church in the secular Roman world. If the first believers could do that, so can we with each other. But there are deeper issues.
As present-day believers, we are too often distracted by resemblance e.g., a similarity to some past idea or bias in our memory banks (David Hume's first principle in understanding the Association of Ideas). Even when we try to be "rational", too often our "intuitive" resemblances have already led to our associating judgment of a fellow Christian based on selfishly framed stereotypes of their particular ministry or work, or even formed out of insular and selfishly framed conversations that may have led us to either associate reverence or abhorence to these other Christians. Our selfishly driven, intuitive resemblances associated with some previous bias, governs our rationality and hinders our truthful living, working and worshipping in a unified (but not uniform sub-cultural) Christ Culture. To counter such thinking, Christ Culture demands born again discipleship mentoring to yoke the selfish intuitions of new Jesus Followers with the Gospel. Without such discipleship they may be born again but will not recognize spirit led, missional faculties for outreach and maturing in the faith.
Jonathan Dodson takes these notions even further, arguing that Truth and its resemblances (which he calls mindsets) within and for each person are neither popular nor obligatory - in fact, mostly selfish - within Christian community:
In general, we don’t speak truthfully with one another because we perceive no obligation to our community. We don’t live with a mindset that says: 'I should look out for others.' ... We tend to live with a mindset that says: 'I should look out for myself.' ... The deeper reason is that we fear the community" ... is that "we really are afraid of what the community thinks of us, particularly if we discuss, correct, exhort or encourage them in the truth. We are fearful of losing their approval ... This is a massive idolatry we sorely need to repent of. Why repent? Because only God is worthy of our fear. He is worthy because he is great enough to worship, but our community, they’re not worthy of worship ... fear keeps us bound from blessing one another with the truth, from sharing the gospel with others, exhorting people to live a holy life, and encouraging one another with words of Scripture. We value comfort over truth. We fear the loss of social comfort. And before we pass off our reluctance to speak truthfully as love, we do well to remember 1 Corinthians 13, where we find that love rejoices in the truth because the truth sets us free. It always serves our good."Excerpted from Jonathan Dodson, "Fearing Community and Telling the Truth", November 30th, 2012 To the extent Dodson's sage observations remain true for an extended period of time, so much for the idea of a Christ Culture driven Church Community.