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Everyone Is “Culturally Situated”

This post was originally published on this site

There are a few Late-Modern bromides that people repeat as if they were self-evidently true that are really quite nonsensical. One of these is: everything is relative. Well, if everything is relative, then your claim that everything is relative is also relative. By definition “everything” is all encompassing. If by that claim one is really saying, “I may therefore ignore a particular truth claim, e.g., Jesus is Lord, then on your own reasoning we may all ignore the claim that everything is relative. It is a self-defeating claim and therefore silly.

Another such claim is that all human interpretations of Scripture are culturally situated. What do people mean by this? They mean that no one reads Scripture outside of a culture. What is a culture? We could spend the rest of our lives trying to answer this question but a very short answer would include language, assumptions about the nature of things, agreements (implicit or explicit) about how we are going to be governed, food, the arts, and even sport. The astute reader may notice that I did not mention religion (cultus) or convictions about ultimate questions. Obviously, we can see the close relation between the words cult (religion, worship) and culture. In some ways it seems impossible to distinguish them since every culture has a cult, an object of religion (a god of some sort) and an approved way of worshipping that God (religion). Let it be enough for this discussion to say that culture is what is common to all of us and cult is what is sacred, and holy to a given culture.

The pagans had a religion. They worshiped gods made with hands and gods they had fashioned in their hearts and minds rather than the God who spoke in the beginning. Paganism seems to have developed rather quickly after the fall. I suppose we should not be surprised. Yahweh Elohim (the Lord God) did not say that serpent was going away but only that one day his head would be crushed. By the time we get to Noah, paganism has come to predominate in the world. When Noah announced the coming judgement, called for repentance and faith, he had few takers. Only 8 people were on the ark before the judgment waters came and took the rest of the world away (Matt 24:39). So it will be when the Son of Man returns to judge the world (2 Pet 3:1–13).

Are all interpretations of Scripture culturally conditioned? Read more»