Sermon quotes on culture

Randy Alcorn

The sense that we will live forever somewhere has shaped every civilization in human history…the unifying testimony of the human heart through history is belief in life after death. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God-given, innate sense of the eternal-that this world is not all there is.


Herman Bavinck

The resurrection is the fundamental restoration of all culture.

The Philosophy of Revelation

Herman Bavinck

All culture, whatever significance it may have, just as all education, civilization, development, is absolutely powerless to renew the inner man.

The Philosophy of Revelation

G.K. Chesterton

Customs are generally unselfish. Habits are nearly always selfish.

Christopher Dawson

Any religious movement which adopts a purely critical and negative attitude to culture is therefore a force of destruction and disintegration which mobilizes against it the healthiest and most constructive elements in society-elements which can by no means be dismissed as worthless from the religious point of view. On the other hand, the identification of religion with the particular cultural synthesis which has been achieved at a definite point of time and space by the action of historical forces is fatal to the universal character of religious truth. It is indeed a kind of idolatry-the substitution of an image made by man for the eternal transcendent reality.

T.S. Eliot

It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe–until recently–have been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all of our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning.

Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture

Alan Hirsch

I found out the hard way that if we don’t disciple people, the culture sure will.

C.S. Lewis

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

Christian Reflections, Eerdmans Publishing

Russell Moore

We receive celebrities simply because they are ‘conservative,’ without asking what they are conserving. If you are angry with the same people we are, you must be one of us. But it would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ.


Jeff Manion

My suspicion is that we have simply lost our way. I suspect that our material longings are more largely formed by our culture than by the Christ and that our spending habits do not differ radically from those who have no allegiance or loyalty to Jesus.


Soong-Chan Rah

Culture is a human attempt to understand the world around us. It is the programming that shapes who we are and who we are becoming. It is a social system that is shaped by the individual and that also has the capacity to shape the individual. But it is also the presence of God, the image of God, the mission of God found in the human spirit soul, and social system.

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church

Leonard Ravenhill

If Jesus preached the same message minister’s preach today, He would have never been crucified.

 Lamin Sanneh

The original language of Christianity is translation.

Francis Schaeffer 

There is no place for the freedom of people in a totally closed cause-and-effect system. Man becomes a zero. People and all they do become only part of the machinery.

Charles Taylor

Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in [the twenty-first century] many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?

A Secular Age 

Dallas Willard

We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

John Stott

The overriding reason why we should take other people’s cultures seriously is because God has taken ours seriously.

Wendell Berry

We are all to some extent the products of an exploitive society, and it would be foolish and self-defeating to pretend that we do not bear its stamp.

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian


What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic?”

Tertullian, “The Prescriptions Against the Heretics,” subsection 7, in Early Latin Theology, edited by S. L. Greenslade, volume 5 in The Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Dallas Willard

We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

Eugene Peterson

We live in a culture where image is everything and substance nothing. We live in a culture where a new beginning is far more attractive than a long follow-through. Images are important. Beginnings are important. But an image without substance is a lie. A beginning without a continuation is a lie.

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

Neil Postman

Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.

Huxley feared that we would become a trivial culture. . . .

Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.

Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers

If we do not accept as good, God’s shaping of our person and life in our own culture, we will never be able to accept his work in the lives of others who are culturally different from us.

Andy Crouch

Culture is what we make of the world. Culture is, first of all, the name for our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else.

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, Kindle Locations 191-192.

Timothy Keller

It is always crucial to remember that our beliefs are formed not only through reason and argument but also through social conditioning.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (p. 87). Penguin Publishing Group.


Russell Moore

A Christianity that reflects its culture, whether that culture is Smith College or NASCAR, only lasts as long as it is useful to its host . That’s because it’s , at root , idolatry , and people turn from their idols when they stop sending rain.

Is Christianity Dying?” Moore to the Point (blog), May 12, 2015.

Russell Moore

The Book of Acts , like the Gospels before it, shows us that Christianity thrives when it is , as Kierkegaard put it , a sign of contradiction . Only a strange gospel can differentiate itself from the worlds we construct. But the strange, freakish , foolish old gospel is what God uses to save people and to resurrect churches (1 Cor .1: 20–22) 

Is Christianity Dying?” Moore to the Point (blog), May 12, 2015.

Tony Reinke

Our culture is no longer banded together by shared beliefs; it’s drawn together by shared spectacles. Like Halloween costumes designed to match the most popular movies, we seek our self-identity inside the cultural spectacles we share together.

Taken from Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke, © 2019, p.64. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Tony Reinke

TV is imago populi—all of society’s trendy appetites incarnated into visible form and broadcasted.

Taken from Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke, © 2019, p.133. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

D.A. Carson

No truth which human beings may articulate can ever be articulated in a culture-transcending way-but that does not mean that the truth thus articulated does not transcend culture.

“Maintaining Scientific and Christian Truths in a Postmodern World,” Science & Christian Belief no. 2 (2002): 107-22.

Flannery O’Connor

Good and evil appear to be joined in every culture at the spine.

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Macmillan 1969, p.200.

Ken Myers

Clture is what human beings make of the world, in both senses—the stuff we make from the raw material of nature, but also the meaning we make.

Greek Proverb

Mia koinonía megalónei ótan oi ilikioménoi fytévoun déntra ton opoíon i skiá gnorízoun óti den tha kathísoun poté.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

John Sawhill

A society is defined not only by what it creates, but also what it refuses to destroy.

Timothy Keller

To reach people we must appreciate and adapt to their culture, but we must also challenge and confront it. This is based on the biblical teaching that all cultures have God’s grace and natural revelation in them, yet they are also in rebellious idolatry. If we overadapt to a culture, we have accepted the culture’s idols. If, however, we underadapt to a culture, we may have turned our own culture into an idol, an absolute. If we overadapt to a culture, we aren’t able to change people because we are not calling them to change. If we underadapt to a culture, no one will be changed because no one will listen to us; we will be confusing, offensive, or simply unpersuasive. To the degree a ministry is overadapted or underadapted to a culture, it loses life-changing power.

Center Church

Richard Brislin & Tomoko Yoshida

Culture consists of concepts, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and are widely shared by people. . . . [These] are transmitted generation to generation, rarely with explicit instructions, by parents, teachers, religious figures, and other respected elders

Article: “Mission and Vision: The Eight Core Principles of the Center for Action and Contemplation,” Center for Action and Contemplation.

Nancy Pearcey

The first phrase, “be fruitful and multiply,” means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, “subdue the earth,” means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less.

Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 47.

Geert Hofstede

[Culture is] The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others.

Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values.

Peter Farb and George Armelagos

To know what, where, how, when, and with whom people eat is to know the character of their society.

Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating 


Brenda Salter McNeil

The development of different cultures didn’t take God by surprise! This is what the triune God intended from the beginning. Cultural difference and diversity was always a part of God’s original plan for human beings. When God commanded the first human beings to “fill the earth,” it was a decree to create cultures, because no one culture, people or language can adequately reflect the splendor of God.

Taken from Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by Brenda Salter McNeil (c) 2020 by Brenda Salter McNeil. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Clifford Geertz

What this means is that culture, rather than being added on, so to speak, to a finished or virtually finished animal, was ingredient, and centrally ingredient, in the production of that animal itself. … We are, in sum, incomplete or unfinished animals who complete or finish ourselves through culture.”

The Interpretation of Cultures

Clifford Geertz

Culture is not inherited like a genetic code. Instead, culture becomes layers and layers added by our society and our surrounding environment.

The Interpretation of Cultures

Clifford Geertz

Culture is that attitude towards the world that reveals the soul of the people. It is mirrored in their artistic expressions and in particular in their poetry. Culture is thus how a particular people maintains its own values and attitudes.

The Interpretation of Cultures

Johann Gottfried Herder

Culture is a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.

Soong-Chan Rah

The word ‘culture’ comes from the Latin colere, meaning to cultivate. It indicates mankind’s environment as shaped and patterned by the whole of human activity. Culture is the core and driving force of civilization both ancient and modern.

 Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, Moody, 2010.

Paul DeNeui

As a missionary … it was always comforting to realize that I did not bring God along with my physical and cultural baggage to my new host country.

Christian Communitas in the Missio Dei,” in Ex Auditu: Christianity’s Engagement with Culture, vol. 23 (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 94.

Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

We believe that the gospel is best lived out when churches are firmly rooted in their surrounding community’s culture.

Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too, B&H Books, 2007.

Sandra L. Richter

God did not canonize Israel’s culture. Rather, he simply used that culture as a vehicle through which to communicate the eternal truth of his character and his will for humanity.

Taken from The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament by Sandra L. Richter Copyright (c) 2008 by Sandra L. Richter. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Kevin G. Ford

The church desires to change the surrounding culture. The truth,

however, is that the church has been infected by the very culture it seeks to transform.

Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great

Susannah Black

It’s perfectly possible to have an orthodox Christianity that understands itself to be at the center of making human culture, while interacting with non-Christians and their cultural products who are also at the center, and with a grounded sense of political responsibility: because that’s just what’s actually true. And it’s not as though this is the first time this has happened: This is the story of the roots of the church, of St. Paul in the agora, of St. Augustine in his study, of Hellenic philosophy and Judaic theology, of Roman playwrights and Hebrew prophets.

Article: “Christian Civic Humanism for a World Renewed” in Breaking Ground, May 28, 2021.

Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

We believe that the gospel is best lived out when churches are firmly rooted in their surrounding community’s culture.

Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too, B&H Books, 2007.

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