Culture and the Bible

Date: December 15, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Kameron Slater

Big idea: The gospel doesn’t just transform individual lives; it transforms culture as well.

Was the Bible written for first century Christians only? Was it written for people of all eras? Can we say it was written for people of all eras without reservation?

Culture: the total pattern of a people’s behaviors. This includes all behavior that is learned and transmitted by the symbols of a particular group and that focuses on certain ideas or assumptions that we call a worldview.

When looking at how Scripture applies to culture today, we need to know the difference between a principle and a custom.
-Principle: a teaching admonition or precept that crosses cultures (transcultural); it applies to all people in all places in all ages.
-Custom: a practice that governs a particular people in a particular place at a particular time.

Distinct options when studying a cultural element in Scripture:

  1. It is entirely custom
  2. It is entirely principle
  3. It is partly principle and partly custom
  4. It is partly principle or partly custom

Practical guidelines when reading a Scriptural text:

  1. Examine the Bible for apparent areas of custom
  2. Allow for cultural distinctives of the original audience
  3. Remember creation ordinances are indicators of a transcultural principle
  4. Exercise humility in areas of uncertainty


  • Read through 1 Corinthians 5-11 and determine what is a custom and what is a principle
  • Read through Leviticus this week and do the same thing (Monday: Lev 1-4, Tuesday: Lev 5-8, Wednesday: Lev 9-12, Thursday: Lev 13-16, Friday: Lev 17-20, Saturday: Lev 21-24, Sunday: Lev 25-27)

Knowing Scripture by RC Sproul
Why We Trust the Bible by Stephen J. Nichols
“Christianity and Culture” by W.A. Dyrness (found in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)



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