The Difference between Biblical Christianity & Cultural Christianity
We live in a world where the general popularity of Biblical Christianity is fading or dwindling. Paul says the following in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
There are many forms of counterfeit Christianity that are on the rise which oppose Biblical Christianity eg Progressive Christianity and Cultural Christianity.
What is Biblical Christianity?
Biblical Christianity bases its foundation for Christian living on the Bible alone. It is a Biblical lifestyle which has a Biblical worldview. Biblical Christianity focuses on rightly dividing or interpreting the teachings in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) in order to understand and obey true Christian faith.
Biblical Christianity is different from Cultural Christianity in that Cultural Christianity is a religion that outwardly identifies as “Christian” but yet does not adhere or agree entirely with various Biblical teachings. Instead, Cultural Christianity is willing to disobey or contradict the Bible itself and the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
So what are other specific differences between Biblical Christianity versus Cultural Christianity?
Characteristics of Biblical Christianity
1. According to Biblical Christianity, the 66 books of the Bible is God’s written word for mankind. Therefore the Bible is inspired by God; the Bible is inerrant and the Bible is sufficient for true Christian living, including our understanding of the difference between good and evil or right and wrong. The Bible is also sufficient for our knowledge and understanding of God’s nature and character, so that we may have a genuine relationship with Him.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2. Biblical Christianity does not conform or compromise with the unbiblical value systems of the world (Romans 12:2). Therefore Biblical Christianity understands that the ideologies, philosophies and doctrines of the world are opposed to the teachings of God in the Bible.
Colossians 2:8 says: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
With Biblical Christianity, to be friends with the world means to be in enmity with God.
James 4:4 says: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Therefore the Biblical Christian understands that the world hates God and anything that is associated with the Kingdom of God. And so if the world hates God, then the world will also hate the true followers of Christ.
In John 15:18-19 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
3. Biblical Christianity seeks to proclaim the true Gospel and glorify Jesus Christ alone. The true Gospel pertains to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and in order save mankind from eternal punishment (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Biblical Christianity understands that we must unashamedly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ or fulfill the Great Commission. Proclaiming the true Gospel and making disciples is at the centre of why the Church exists in terms of its purpose and directive here on Earth (Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 1:16).
Furthermore, Biblical Christianity does not proclaim a false gospel and it seeks to warn others about preaching and obeying false gospels and false teachings.
Galatians 1:8-9 says: But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
With Biblical Christianity, the true Church is not about being part of a specific religious denomination or religious sect. Instead Biblical Christianity recognizes every truly born again Christian believer from all over the world as being a member of God’s family and God’s universal Church with Jesus Christ as the Head.
Colossians 1:18 says: And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.
4. Biblical Christianity is prepared to endure or suffer persecution for the sake of Jesus Christ. Biblical Christians acknowledge that tribulation and persecution will come as part of the package pertaining to Christian living.
Biblical Christians understand that Jesus did not promise Christians an easy life on this earth but instead He mentioned that in this sinful and fallen world, Christians will face tribulation and persecution (John 16:33).
2 Timothy 3:12 says: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
In Matthew 5:10-12 Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
1 Peter 4:12-14 says: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
5. Biblical Christianity adheres to the fundamentals or essentials of the Christian faith. Examples of the essentials or core beliefs of true Christianity include the following:
a) The triunity of God ie that God exists in 3 Persons being the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.
b) Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and to a genuine relationship with God. (John 14:6)
c) Salvation is a free gift from God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
d) Jesus Christ will return to judge sin and rule the world (Matthew 24:44; Revelation 1:7).
Characteristics of Cultural Christianity
1. Cultural Christianity is more about superficiality and outward appearance than inward change and relationship with Jesus Christ. For example, Jesus Christ would often expose the superficiality and hypocrisy of the religious Pharisees who arrogantly wanted to portray to the people that they were “holy” or “spiritual” when inwardly they were hypocritical and prideful.
In Matthew 6:5 Jesus says: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward… And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
A Christian is not defined by how often he sets foot in a church building or by the church activities that he/she carries out. It is possible for a person to attend church every Sunday or every other day but yet not be a true born again Christian. With cultural Christianity a person can carry the label of “Christian” and even sometimes speak like a Christian but yet live a double life.
Cultural Christianity falsely focuses on the outward appearances as evidence to measure a person’s spirituality whilst Biblical Christianity focuses on inward repentance, obedience to God’s word and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A cultural Christian can also be termed as a Nominal Christian.
In Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus says: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
2. Cultural Christianity is about obeying the traditions and doctrines of men, above obeying the Bible. With cultural Christianity, the religious traditions and ideologies of men are exalted and obeyed above the word of God, or what the Bible actually says.
In Matthew 15:3-9 in a conversation with the Scribes & Pharisees, Jesus says: “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?… You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; 9 in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
With cultural Christianity, the Bible is not the foundation of one’s beliefs. Instead one can cherry pick what one wants to believe or disbelieve about the Bible. With cultural Christianity extra-biblical revelation is obeyed more than the teachings in Scripture. So in cultural Christianity, the Bible is not the final authority for one’s life. Therefore emphasis is given to the contradictory doctrines and traditions of the religious group, rather than what the Bible actually says.
3. Cultural Christianity is not about the Gospel or one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some people profess to be “Christians” because of family background, being part of a religious denomination or by country of birth.
Cultural Christianity focuses more on performing religious activities, and people becoming part of a social or religious grouping which acts more like a social club, as evidence that one is a “Christian”. Therefore your association with a group is what makes you a “Christian” as opposed to what the Bible or the Gospel says in relation to becoming a true born again Christian believer. Therefore cultural Christianity does not consider the Biblical view of salvation through Jesus Christ alone and through faith alone, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). And so the Gospel message is usually irrelevant according to a cultural “Christian”.
With cultural Christianity, the emphasis is about one’s relationship with his/her religious group or denomination as opposed to one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore one’s loyalty to a religious group and its activities is exalted and emphasized above one’s relationship with Christ.
4. Cultural Christianity compromises with the world and will avoid persecution at any cost. In opposition to Biblical Christianity, cultural Christianity is about being comfortable and conforming or adapting to the value systems of the world. Cultural Christianity will avoid any Biblical teachings which are likely to offend the world or offend people.
For example teachings on sin, repentance and also hell are avoided. Therefore cultural Christianity focuses on pleasing man instead of pleasing God.
Galatians 1:10 says: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 says: But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
Therefore a cultural or nominal “Christian” will act more like the world instead of behaving more like Jesus Christ.
Only Biblical Christianity is accepted by God as the correct method of Christian living. James 1:22-24 says: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
God has given us His word, the Bible so that we may know Him personally and understand His plan and purpose for mankind. It is through the Bible that we can understand the mind of God. It is through the Bible that we can know the difference between good and evil.
The Bible is also God’s final authority on all matters on Earth and provides all that we need to help us avoid deception. The Bible provides us with knowledge of the Gospel and how to please God and obey God. A true Christian will follow the Bible because it is God’s word. Ultimately, the purpose of any true born again believer, is that one becomes more like Jesus Christ in his/her daily living.