Some people have said that in order to ascertain the truth we must forget all of our preconceived ideas and basically start from scratch.
Of course, if that were possible there is no guarantee that our next set of ideas would be any better. Personally I have some preconceived ideas that were passed down to me from my father. I can remember about 40 years ago, listening to my father as he read slowly and clearly from the bible. Verses like “…straight is the way, narrow is the gate that leads to life and few there be that find it”, still affect my thinking. Many times he conveyed to me the concept of not following a multitude to do evil. So his influence has played a big part in the conception of my current mindset.
One definition of the word culture is “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns.” In our modern day of cultural diversity and tolerance it’s easy to forget that our culture is the expression of our faith and morality.
Every culture has it’s traditions involving things like clothing, foods, outward appearance, holidays, views on child rearing, childbearing, marriage, divorce, financial philosophies, languages, etc.
Concerning cultural clothing, there are some cultures in the world where it is acceptable not to wear any clothes at all. Then in some European and Western cultures the clothing is so sensual that it results in a more seductive appearance than complete nudity would. So it’s not surprising that fornication is the norm, and even considered a rite of passage into adulthood, by people with this mindset.
In the department of foods, boudin noir, a bloody sausage is a popular food in areas like the State of Louisiana where the French culture is dominant. I understand in Holland and other European countries, blood soup is a common food item, and in Asia many people eat monkeys. In many areas of the world it is acceptable to eat pigs, and vast numbers are grown commercially for that purpose.
Every culture has its traditional holidays as well. The Islamic people observe Friday as their weekly day of worship and Ramadan as their annual holiday period. The pagans have their weekly and annual holidays that revolve around sun worship, which have been borrowed by traditional Christianity for about 16 centuries.
But there are Biblical directives for each of these socially transmitted behavior patterns, and we are specifically warned not to “learn the way of the heathen”, but to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Obviously there was a significant contrast between the culture of Egypt and the visiting Hebrews. The children of Israel were held in contempt for calmly tending their flocks. (Gen.46:34)
The root word of culture is “cult”. One definition of cult is “...a system of community or religious worship and ritual, especially focusing on a single deity or spirit.” One example of a cult was the followers of Jim Jones in 1978. Another example of a cult was the early followers of Yahshua the Messiah as recorded in the book of Acts.
Another word that has cult for its root is “cultivate”, which has been defined as “to form or refine as by education.” We are constantly being formed and in-formed by our peers. The type of in-formation that we allow into our minds will shape the expression of our culture.
Still another word with “cult” as it’s root is occult, which is defined as “... supernatural influences beyond the realm of human comprehension, mysterious...... hidden from view.” One type of occult behavior is the use of Ouiji boards and Tarot cards.
Another example, which would fit this esoteric category, is the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Time after time they and their descendants experienced supernatural influences beyond the realm of human comprehension, while they served an unseen Creator.
When a doctor wants to identify a particular microorganism he will take small sample and grow a culture in a Petri dish. After a period of time he will observe the culture to see what has developed, thereby determining the nature of the original specimen.
Each of us is somewhat like a human Petri dish with a culture growing within us. After a period of time the Great Physician will examine each dish to see what has developed.
Given the above definitions, I believe it is safe to say that “cults cultivate culture with occult powers.”
But the important questions are:
- Who is your cult leader?
- What culture are you cultivating?
- What occult power are you relying on?
And where did Abraham get his preconceived ideas about those mysterious commandments, statutes and laws anyway?
I am inclined to believe that initially, they were passed down to him by his ancestors like Eber and Shem who both outlived Abraham. Shem would have received in-formation from Noah his father who would have been taught by Methuselah his grandfather. This man who live to be 969 years old was a contemporary with Adam for a couple of centuries so there would have been many opportunities to socially transmit these behavior patterns.
Of course eventually, Abraham was in personal contact with the Creator of this culture that was handed down to him.
Once when I was a young man, someone asked me if I had ever let my beard grow. When I responded that I had not, he asked if I ever wondered what I would look like. Again I responded negatively because the thought had never entered my mind. But then I began to wonder, and I began to recall biblical examples like Yahshua, Ezra, David and his servants, Aaron, etc. Of course the bible doesn’t really say that Moses had a beard but I knew that he did because I had seen the movie. Evidently even Hollywood film producers have preconceived ideas about the way things should be.
But where did these cultural ideas originate, and what does culture have to do with salvation?
Remember we are told that salvation is of the Jews, because unto them (the nation of Israel) were committed the oracles (behavior patterns) of Yahvah. If we are no longer aliens from the commonwealth of Israel then we have become joint heirs of the world with both Abraham and Yahshua. (Galatians 3, Romans 8) But along with this divine inheritance comes a sacred commission and a holy empowerment to transmit these behavior patterns to all nations.
Adam had some preconceived ideas about the fruit of the tree of knowledge, but he disregarded these ideas and listened to his wife whose behavior patterns were affected by her association with the serpent and his ideas of cultural diversity.
So, what can we do now that the gate has been opened and biblical culture has been abandoned? We can earnestly contend for the faith once (not twice) delivered to the saints, by allowing Yahshua the Messiah to cultivate our culture, thereby returning to the old paths wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Yahvah said through Isaiah, “...look to the rock from whence you were hewn.... and look unto Abraham your father and Sarah who bore you”. Moses admonished his people 3400 years ago to remember the days of old and to consult the elders for their instruction. (Duet. 32) Even Jacob seemed to be looking back to the days of his forefathers when Pharaoh asked about his age in Gen. 47.
But let’s not just reminisce, but truly walk in the behavior patterns of our spiritual forefathers.
- Some of the ideas in this article were inspired by the authors Blair Adams and Kent Hovind
- Definitions taken from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language