The culture and faith interact with each other on many levels. Since you really can’t truly have one without the other, this is to be expected. But what should the relationship between the two be? Should the culture have more influence over faith, or should faith be a greater influencing on the culture?
For example, the reforms of Vatican II would be most commonly seen as the culture influencing faith, and the Catholic Church's refusal to bend on things like birth control, gay marriage, and abortion an example of faith influencing culture (or at least attempting to).
Let’s say we have a line with two ends. At one end you have the culture exerting complete influence over faith, and at the other end we have faith exerting complete influence over the culture. In the United States, the reality is that each denomination would place their mark on this line at a different location.
[Faith] 1 <------------------------ 5 ------------------------> 10 [Culture]
For the Fundamentalists, the mark would be much closer to the faith influencing the culture end (less than 5) (Blue laws and the Prohibition laws of the 1920’s would be an example of this). For Evangelicals and even more so Emergent churches, the mark would be placed nearer to the culture influencing faith (greater than 5) (contemporary Christian music, coffee shops in church, minister's trendy clothes and hair cuts, and sermons with themes based on current movies as a few examples).
I would say that the motto from the churches under 5 is, “We are to be in the world, but not be of the world.” And the motto you hear from the churches over 5 is, “We need to meet the world where they’re at.”
So I have two questions:
- Where would the Catholic Church place their mark?
- Where should the Church be placing its mark?
Of course as always, .... I have my own opinion. ;-)