Culture-making is a fundamental attribute of our humanness. When God created the first man, Adam, He created him to be a culture-maker.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. … The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it [cultivate it (KJV/NKJV) a word relating to culture and culture-making (Lee, 1976)] (Genesis 2:8, 15).
Smith (2009) points out that all culture-making, and participation in cultural expressions, is at root essentially an expression of religious worship. Smith writes:
education … is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires. Every part of a culture is formative, through the cultural liturgies, the ways of doing and perceiving things that arise out of the fundamental loves of the members of the culture. These loves are akin to worship. Every person is primarily a worshipper–a lover at the deepest level, and this motivation and orientation is much deeper than the cognitive level of worldview (Smith, 2009, pp.17-18).
This is why the Apostle John writes:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:15-17).
The kinds of cultural expressions that we engage in and enjoy are shadows of the god that we deep-down, really worship. If the God that we worship is the Triune God of the Bible, then the cultural engagements of our lives with reflect the Apostle Paul’s following list:
… whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, (we will) think about these things. What (we) have learned and received and heard and seen in (the Apostle Paul–as an imitator of Christ)–(we will) practice these things, and the God of peace will be with (us) (Philippians 4:8-9).
Home-based education, more than any other mode of educational delivery, provides a family an opportunity to guard its cultural participation, and determine its course and depth of cultural creation.
Let us listen to the admonition of the Apostle Paul, who wrote:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).
Lee, F. N. (1976). The Central Significance of Culture. U.S.A.: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.
Smith, J. K. A. (2009). Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.
One thought on “Home-based education and culture: culture-making as an expression of worship”
I like the quote ‘education … is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires.’
Interesting you should end the post with “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). I studied and meditated all of Chapter 10 this morning and what revelations Paul gave has relevance to culture and the way we think, behave, react including our view and practice of ‘education’. Questions of conscience, faith and stumbling blocks arise. Following on from the sentence about doing all to the glory of God is “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.” Paul was concerned with the attitude and reactions of Christians to variant thinking and behaviours like eating, keeping certain customs, ‘whatever’. Paul’s mission and approach which we are urged to adopt, is to ‘please everybody in every way…not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (verses 32,33)
Although our thinking and behaviour may appear to be superior and right (our conscience is clear), God wants us to express our love and faith and seeking his glory and we may not be showing this if we inadvertently distance our selves from others, indeed be a stumbling block if we insensitively say and do things which may offend, even if we feel the position we take is right and our conscience is clear. This is the sacrifice of submitting to one another and bearing with one another out of respect and love for the other person. The goal is to draw closer to God for all parties and give him the glory in spite of differences. Then God will do what is needed to transform us into the image of Christ.