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Cultural Christianity – Claiming Salvation by Association

Yes! THIS!

This is an issue I have brought up in defense of Christianity so many times over the last several years. It has become increasingly necessary, given all the publicity surrounding evangelical Christians throwing their support behind a serial adulterer and known con artist.

I have never said that those who support Trump are not Christians. I know many Christians, however, who have put aside godly conviction in order to justify supporting the president. They feel the alternative is worse, and as too many have determined, they can’t get their heads around the idea of abstaining on principle. Their worries are still too firmly rooted in what goes on in this world, rather than preparing for the world after, which is the eternal hope of Christians everywhere.

We’re not perfect.

The problem comes from those who are piggybacking on the Christian faith, claiming a title that they’ve done nothing to earn.

By “earn” I mean accept Christ as savior, along with his finished work at the cross.

It’s not just confined to the Trump issue. There has long been a problem with those that pastor and author, Dean Inserra (“The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel”) refers to as “cultural Christians.”

According to Inserra, there is a growing issue of those who consider themselves “Christian,” but do not believe or follow the Gospel. In the pastor’s words, these people will publicly claim to be believers, but “their answer for doing so would have nothing to do with the Gospel.”

“We wrongly think that it is a discipleship issue but I hope they can understand that it is a different religion altogether,” explained Inserra, who hoped readers of his book “gain a true understanding of how to reach what I believe is the most common mission field around them.”

At issue: How can you claim a faith that you have no faith in?

Inserra has broken cultural Christianity down into several categories, such as “God and Country Christians” and “Generational Catholics.” When asked which are most common, he responds:

“I would say two different ones. I would say the nominal Catholics are everywhere. A lot of times we think Cultural Christianity is confined to the Bible Belt, but the reality of nominal Catholics [shows] that is not true.

Think about some of the politicians in Washington that claim to be Catholic but fight for things that are decidedly against God’s Word, such as gay marriage or abortion.

The other common one is what I could call “the guy next door.” The person that just really believes that they’re a good person. They have a basic generic vague theistic belief. They’re not atheists or agnostics and they really believe themselves to be good people.

Those people are hard to reach because they don’t always see a need for the Jesus that they claim to believe in.” 

Ephesians 2:8-9 AMP For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].”

In other words, no one ever got to Heaven by being a “good person.” Too many see that as unjust, but it is not. Why not be a good person who studies the Word, devotes yourself to being used of God, and gives your heart fully to Christ?

Further, hearts changed by God should do good works out of gratitude and for the glory of our Father, not as if seeking a reward.

Inserra further explains the balancing act of not mistaking weak or quaking Christians with “cultural Christians.”

“I think we need to make sure that we are not declaring a struggling believer to be a Cultural Christian. They just might be growing or they might just need some repentance in their life.

Cultural Christians are simply people who do not believe the Gospel. They’re generic theists — their answer to why they are a Christian is that they’re basically not Muslim, Jewish, or agnostic or atheist. What makes it so hard to decipher is that there is no category for “Cultural Christian.” If you filled any kind of paperwork that asked you to indicate your religion, there’s no box that says “Cultural Christian.”

And I’ll go ahead and confess that there was a time in my life where I was so ignorant of the faith that I claimed to be a Christian for that very reason.

I wasn’t Jewish. I wasn’t a follower of Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion, therefore, by process of elimination, I must have been Christian, right?

It doesn’t work that way, and too many feel it does.

The danger in that – beyond just those souls lost, not realizing their need to be redeemed – is that they go on acting as the world, living sinful lives, and others will see their corruptness and place the blame on Christianity, without questioning the authenticity of their faith.

It is a lingering problem, further propagated by the twisted doctrine of liberal churches, such as the United Methodist Church (UMC), which is split between the liberal and conservative factions. It is likewise among some Lutheran branches, as well as the Presbyterian USA crowd.

The façade they operate under is one of acceptance without obedience to the Gospel or consequences for sin. They completely ignore that one, key act: Repentance.

Yes, Father God is accepting of all, but there must be repentance of our sinfulness, and those things He has deemed wrong.

And no, you don’t get a seat on the Mercy Train by association. If your parents, uncles, aunts, or longtime hairdresser are all Christians, you don’t become a Christian by osmosis. That requires a change of heart and a confession of belief in and dependence on Jesus Christ for salvation. There is no other way.

So what is our next step? How do we react to cultural Christians?

Our only weapon is the Gospel, preaching Jesus and only Jesus, and holding firm to the truth given to us through God’s Word.

We won’t save the world. It is already lost. And we will not win every false Christian or humanist poser to the truth.

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