Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Culture: Blessing or Bane?

Written by: on January 31, 2019

This is a tough one. One one hand we see a newness in celebrating diversity and on the other it appears that the emergence of culture was a form of punishment by God when he confused people’s languages at the Tower of Babel. 

In the United States celebrating significant cultural events (Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) is part of who we are as a nation. And yet at the same time we bemoan and protest the fact that minority groups are still victims of discrimination. So which is it? More culture, less culture or what? 

I believe some clarity on the issue will salve the confused. The book of Genesis gives us a full account of what happened. God created everything and assigned humankind to have responsible dominion over his creation. Adam and Eve had complete freedom to do anything they pleased except eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They succumbed to the serpent’s temptation, ate of the forbidden fruit and God punished them. 

Man continued in rebellion which ultimately resulted in God destroying his creation save Noah, his family and anything on the ark. It did not take long before the lessons of the flood were forgotten. Instead of obeying God by “filling and subduing the earth” man decided to come together and make a name for themselves.1 God could have punished them with equal flood-like results but in an act of mercy God decides instead to thwart their plans by confusing their one language and disperse them over the face of the earth. And we have needed translation services ever since. 

Understanding each other across cultural difference is a challenge.2 But it’s a welcomed challenge. And here lies the beauty of the Gospel. If all we have in this life, devoid of hope and restoration, we will be doomed, hopeless in our human interactions. Frustrations, civil unrest, chaos, all the accompanying social ills would be the norm in a post-truth society. 

However, the good news, the thing we hope for, the answer to our prayer “thy kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” will be fulfilled in a curse that has been redeemed. William Edgar wisely points out that access to the tree of life that was taken away from us due to sin is now present in the new earth for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2, 7; 22:14, 19).3 Further it appears there will be a great celebration praising and worshipping God in the eschaton, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”4 It is clear by John’s choice of words, “nation”, “tribe” and “languages”, that what began as instruments of the curse in the book of Genesis is now redeemed in Revelations. We start in the garden and we find ourselves back in. Only this time enriched by each others strengths and nothing of our weaknesses.5 That is the gospel message. Is culture a bane or a blessing? It’s both.

1Genesis 11:4
2Erin Meyer, The Culture Map (New York: PublicAffairs), 254.
3William Edgar, Created & Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, an Imprint of    InterVarsity Press, 2017), 227.
4Rev. 7: 9-10
5Meyer, The Culture Map, 251.

About the Author

Harry Edwards

Harry is married to Minerva and has the privilege of raising two young men. He is the founder and director of Apologetics.com, Inc., an organization dedicated to defending the truth claims of Christianity on the internet, radio and other related activities. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education and a Masters of Arts degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University where he currently works full time as the Associate Director of the graduate programs in Christian Apologetics and Science & Religion. Harry is currently pursuing a DMin (Leadership & Global Perspectives) from George Fox University. He is an active member at Ocean View Baptist Church where he leads an adult Bible study and plays the drums for the praise and worship band. In his spare time, Harry enjoys doing things with his family, i.e., tennis, camping/backpacking, flying RC planes and mentoring others to realize their full potential in the service of our Lord.

6 responses to “Culture: Blessing or Bane?”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Maturely navigating numerous cultures seems to be the ultimate proving ground for an advanced degree in global leadership perspectives . . . potential pitfalls and all. Thanks Harry!

  2. Yes, indeed. I really think this program we’re in is cutting edge, relevant and will prepare us well for global ministry leadership better than any program out there.

  3. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Hi Harry. Thanks for sharing your post. I appreciated your reflection on the beginning of time with a focus on Genesis and creation. I agree with the fact that understanding each other across cultural differences is a challenge. But, as you noted, the answer lies within the Gospel. “Thy Kingdom comes, the will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” brings the peace of God’s Sovereign reign over our world. We can trust in Him and know that He truly holds this earth in the palm of His Hand. Thanks for sharing, Harry….

  4. Jenn Burnett says:

    Thank you for this biblical examination Harry! I think Babel is such an interesting story. I wonder if the punishment of dividing people was about humbling them always with the intention of drawing them back together not through collaborative success, but surrender. Over and over in scripture I see the redeemed plan as so much more textured and beautiful than the original picture. Do you see any key moments in scripture that help us draw this picture of unity in heaven to earth? The vision from revelation is so often my motivation to multicultural studies as I imagine it is so breathtakingly beautiful.

  5. Jenn, all I can say is “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

    You asked: “Do you see any key moments in scripture that help us draw this picture of unity in heaven to earth?”
    That’s a great question Jenn. You had me thinking. The only two general things I can point to is (1) the Tower of Babel incident; (2) it appears God is in the habit of restoration and repair as his mode of operation when it comes to redemption. He could’ve just wiped the slate clean and pressed the reset button. Then we’d be reading about this in Genesis 2.0. Hahahaha!

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