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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Religion in Cultures

Culture = the ideas, customs, skills, arts, etc. of a people or group, that are transferred, communicated, or passed along as in or to succeeding generations. (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

Where we live, cultural traditions include some old ways of doing things: plowing with animals, planting when the moon is full, and cooking slowly over a wood-fueled stove. One of our neighbors still wears a traditional costume to work in. There are folk dances, musical instruments unique to our area, two special styles of music, costumes, and sports based on feats of strength (both human and animal) repeated many times. The people are hard working, but they’re not averse to enjoying music, good food, and a good time.

I sometimes watch travel programs on television. Usually, they include cultural insights into the places featured. Many times, they include an inherently religious practice. It could be a dance, or monks chanting, or a beautiful temple or cathedral. It may be a colorful festival in honor of a god, saint, virgin, or even a “holy” person or “sacred” animals. It might have to do with voodoo or a sacrifice. It might be a religious rite of some kind. (I’ve never seen a travel program feature a church service in which the worshipers are true, born again believers in Jesus Christ.)

Every culture has its good and its bad. The good can include its food, music, art, language, costumes, folk dances, sports, architecture, and all the other “neutral” aspects of native traditions. A culture can be fascinating and colorful. Its traditions make it timeless. I think they should be preserved.

But, those religious traditions in any culture that deny the deity of Jesus Christ are not just “culture.” They are man’s serious attempts to please their god(s). It bothers me that many travel guides view this false worship as an interesting, colorful part of the culture, not regarding its serious spiritual consequences. I’ve even seen them participate in religious observances just for fun or “luck.” Burning incense or candles, offering flowers and food, bowing, and chanting, even spinning prayer wheels are religious, idolatrous acts and should never be taken lightly.

The Truth is Jesus. He is not “culture,” not a tradition. He is Truth and Life in Person.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

1 comment:

  1. Very good distinction. I hadn't thought of it, but it is true -- you never see services or practices worshiping Jesus in those travelogue-type programs.


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