Trending Faith: Is Christianity Influenced By Culture?

Christian group reading the Bible to learn Christian culture

Many people have asked whether Christianity is the same as it was thousands of years ago. This is due to the many cultures and groups that have professed Christ as king seeming to change how they profess. Many Christians from different nations have different ways of expressing their faith. It is an important question to understand because the answer deals with the validity of our faith.

How Much of Our Christianity Is Influenced By American Culture?

On a recent episode of Trending Faith, Dean of the College of Theology Jason Hiles, PhD, began the discussion by saying everyone, no matter where they come from, starts somewhere culturally. From the greatest leaders to the best thinkers, we are all influenced by the society we are born into. Even Jesus was influenced by culture during his time here on Earth.

He would use parables that presented the Kingdom of God based on things the people of the culture knew and could identify with easily. The imagery used, like shepherds watching over their flock, were commonplace for the time and still carry similar connotations for some people. These parables provide many layers to represent our multilayered relationship with God and His nature.

The same concept applies today, as we all look through a set of cultural lenses daily. These lenses influence the way we see the world. However, when we look deeper, the foundations of Christianity are not only cultural reflections.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11, ESV 

Our culture gives us a starting point to understand the world. However, it is by no means the end of the story. No matter where we start it does not mean we will be defined by those influences forever. We must press beyond our cultural influences and come to know Jesus on a personal level, so we can understand his teachings and live in a way that is honorable to him.

Even though we have all come from different cultures and backgrounds, we must learn to listen to Jesus above all else. As Christians, we are trying to come to know Jesus in a relational way. His teachings transcend culture and worldly knowledge. The truth is not bound to how society acts but to God Himself.

Different Ways of Expressing Belief

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, ESV

Dean of Students and GCU Pastor Tim Griffin discussed how, when traveling to different parts of the world and experiencing different cultures, one can see that God’s people express their faith in different ways. It is easy for us to become accustomed to our way of doing things, but it is important to realize things were done differently in the past and are done differently across cultures. What matters most is following God’s will and accepting Jesus as the savior.

Ultimately, while there is a subjective dimension of the Christian faith, there is a distinctly objective part that allows us to come to know God, the source of all goodness. While our responses to the Creator of the universe may vary across time and various cultures, we all have the opportunity to be in a personal relationship with Him.

To hear the full discussion, watch the video below:

Do you have questions you want to be answered on Trending Faith? Send questions to trendingfaith@gcu.edu or use #trendingfaith. To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s Christian heritage and identity, visit our website today!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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