Compassion for the Lost Part II

April 20, 2006 — 7 Comments


If there is one thing I’ve learned through blogging and writing for magazines it is certainly context. Whenever someone sends me a quote from an article, I always work to go to the source. What did they really say? What do they really mean? What is the whole story? Whenever I decide to put these questions aside, I always end up in hot water.

If the context of the Total Truth is examined, we quickly come to the conclusion that, within its context, Nancy Pearcey is right on (See Part I including comments).

I think what is happening here is simply this: an excellent discussion was started, but the catalyst for the discussion was taken out of context. I don’t believe we’re looking at a book that teaches embracing the secular culture because it has some good things, but rather it is teaching that we must have a “blueprint,” a Biblical worldview, in order to create a Christian culture.

This may be a new concept to you, or something you may have not thought much about. In Genesis, God tells man to multiply and increase in number, as well as to subdue the earth. When you increase in number, you create culture.

“The first phrase ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, government, laws,” says Nancy Pearcey, “The second phrase ‘subdue the earth,’ means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less.”

In this way, we glorify God.

Nancy Pearcey then continues to explain that the fall did not destroy our original calling, but rather made it much harder.

“Yet when God redeems us,” she says, “He releases us from the guilt and power of sin and restores us to our full humanity, so that we can once again carry out the tasks for which we were created.” Our work also “becomes a means of sharing in His redemptive purposes…to reverse the evil and corruption introduced by the Fall.”

One concept we can all understand is that God is working in salvation (special grace), as well as “preserving and developing His creation,” which is known as common grace. When we are obedient to the Cultural Mandate, we become agents of God’s common grace.

Our work here on earth “is a preparation” for living in the new heaven and the new earth. “Being a Christian means embarking on a lifelong process of growth in grace, both in our personal lives (sanctification),” says Pearcey, “and in our vocations (cultural renewal.).”

(Part 1 Can be found here)

Tim Sweetman

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Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

7 responses to Compassion for the Lost Part II

  1. Nice summary Tim. I think that this ties in with your Part One in the sense that part of creating culture is that compassion is part of that culture we create. So it isn’t just about the things we create, or the systems we might create, but as Christians there is also the spirit in which we create – and compassion is part of that. So is mercy – and there are other things but I think it can be a good reminder to think on compassion and mercy, since the world displays so little of it (look at all the hostility and anger going on in the world).

  2. I loved part II. Great series!

  3. _”The first phrase ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, government, laws,” says Nancy Pearcey, “The second phrase ‘subdue the earth,’ means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less.”_

    Maybe it’s just me, but going from “be fruitful and multiply” and “subdue the earth” to create laws and design computers seems like a stretch. When God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, it seems like he just meant “have kids and fill up the earth.” And I’ve always thought “subdue the earth” was telling them to take over and take care of the beautiful garden God had put them in. Building a bridge or a computer doesn’t really follow, imho.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong to build computers or make music, but I don’t really see this verse telling us to do all those things. Thoughts?

  4. I guess my question for you Jake would be “why wouldn’t those verse be saying that?” I mean, is God against advancements in technology? No, as long as the glory is given to Him. I don’t see why that verse is not about building bridges, learning new things, developing better cars, and writing beautiful poetry.

    Now, “just having kids and filling up the earth.” When you have a whole lot of people, you have a culture. And it can either be a terribly sinful culture, it can be a culture that has only an outward change, or it can be a culture with a biblical worldview. We need to work to change the people’s hearts on this earth to develop a godly culture.

  5. I agree that we are called to be fruitful and subdue the earth. But I’m not sure that’s a mandate to create culture.

    I think there are two issues at work here. Making disciples which is the great commission. We are all told to do that. And live our lives with a biblical worldview. Indeed we are to have compassion on the lost. But I don’t think compassion for the lost translates to appreciating the fruits of the lost. On an inividual level I agree that we can engage an individual about the origin of their talent.

    However, quoting from the original Nancy Pearcy passage,

    Similarly, a Christian radio personality recently wagged a stern finger at Elvis Presley for the immoral content of his songs, without ever asking whether his songs were good as music (which they certainly were),

    That seems to me to be a bit much for her to condemn the Christian for “wagging a stern finger at Elvis Preseley” and at the same time calling the music itself “good”. By whose standard does she declare it good. Without going into the lyrics many of his songs speak of lust and other such things. The melodies may be beautiful but put with those lyrics they lose any sense of beauty. So why is Nancy condemning the Christian?

    Perhaps the radio DJ didn’t present his truth in the best manner. But how many of us will ever get the opportunity to ask a famous pop star about the origins of their talent. Meanwhile, when we refuse to speak against such debacuhery and filth the standard continues to slide downward.

    Why isn’t Nancy Pearcey engaging the DJ in the origins of his talent instead of condemning him?

    How many Christian children are now attracted to country music because of the “beauty of its melody” yet the lyrics promote very ungodly things. Are we supposed to listen to it so that we can “engage the culture”? I would love discuss the origins of some of these “talented” country stars with them. But until I’m given the opportunity am I supposed to just sit and enjoy the music?

    The difficulty when we talk about engaging the culture is the weakening that inevitable happens in the believer as they engage them. It is undeniable. Bad company corrupts good morals. This is a truth of scripture.

    So we must look at all things from a biblical worldview. And when we engage the culture we don’t suspend the standards in the process. Condemning the Christian for condemning Elvis Presley does exactly that.

    According to Nancy Pearcey, “Our first response to the great works of human culture-whether in art or technology or economic productivity—should be to celebrate them as reflections of God’s own creativity.”

    So is she asking us to evaluate Elvis Presley this way…. in his God given smooth baritone voice, Elvis lures the listener into lust?

    I’m sorry but that’s just not something I celebrate as God’s creativity. His talent is indeed from God but in its corrupted state, I don’t thing we are called to celebrate it. No matter what our cultural mandate is.

  6. I think Nancy Pearcey’s point is that we are to distinguish between the goodness that is inherent in all human beings as created in the image of God and the sinfulness that came as a result of the fall. This is the distinction between Elvis’s good singing ability and his immoral lyrics.

    According to her, we must address both, and that if we leave one or the other out, we are not truly expressing a biblical worldview.

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  1. Agent Tim Online :: Culture And Theology--Hand In Hand - April 20, 2006

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