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The Curse of Cultural Christianity

The Curse of Cultural Christianity

Vivek Ramaswamy was, until just recently, running for president of the United States. After not managing to gain enough support, he finally dropped out of the race.

Ramaswamy was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Indian immigrant parents. He attended public schools through eighth grade, then went to St. Xavier High School, a Catholic school in Cincinnati. He later graduated from Harvard College with a degree in biology, then earned a law degree from Yale Law School.

After graduation, Ramaswamy worked as an investment partner at a hedge fund before founding Roivant Sciences, a pharmaceutical company. He also co-founded Strive Asset Management, an investment firm. His businesses made him very wealthy.

Religiously, he is Hindu. But his educational upbringing helped him grasp very clearly the underlying principles of the American democratic republic – and he bought into them hook, line, and sinker. So while he claims to be a Hindu based on his religious background, philosophically he has become the consummate cultural Christian. What that means is, he likes Christian values but doesn’t see a need to actually live the Christian faith.

That seems to be a very common point of view, these days. In fact, it is even bleeding over into what used to be a constituency that was at the very core of traditional Christianity – evangelicalism.

These days, the very concept of evangelical Christianity is changing. Traditionally, the label was applied to people who had a strong focus on salvation and conversion, attended church regularly, and was strongly associated with views about particular moral issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and sexual morality in general.

Now it appears that the definition of evangelicalism is undergoing a change. It is not that the true meaning of the word has actually changed, but the way it is being perceived in society is definitely changing – and along with that, many people who consider themselves evangelicals are drifting toward the Ramaswamy model. They are clinging to traditional Christian/American values, but are increasingly drifting away from its spiritual roots.

As society itself is undergoing massive political upheaval, evangelicalism is being increasingly viewed through a political, rather than religious, lens. Evangelicals are coming to be seen more as cultural and political identity to be courted and used, rather than a religious one where a personal relationship with Christ is central.

And sadly, even many evangelicals are beginning to see themselves that way. What we see is that many Christians are starting to look at the societal landscape through a political, rather than a spiritual, lens. And the result is that cultural Christianity, in many ways, is beginning to overtake genuine Christianity.



Consider the key issues being fought over in modern society:


  • Gay marriage
  • Transgenderism
  • Gender identity

Illegal immigration

  • Rule of law
  • Sex trafficking
  • Illegal drug trafficking

Law and order

  • Justice
  • Rule of law
  • Fairness
  • Using government to favor certain groups

Social media

  • Fairness
  • Freedom of speech and conscience

The problem that is emerging is that self-identifying Christians have become focused almost entirely on the political side of the equation and are becoming satisfied with political results. They feel that if they can create the kinds of political changes they want, they really don’t see the need to live out a genuinely Christian life. They want the social atmosphere Christian beliefs bring, without having to personally commit to living out a biblical lifestyle and follow biblical morality.

It is certainly not that the societal goals are bad. In fact, the goals are focused on creating the kind of societal environment that the Bible encourages. So far, so good. But the problem with cultural Christianity is that it is satisfied to engineer society to its liking without an inner spiritual change within society’s citizens. In a way, it follows precisely the beliefs of naturalistic philosophy, which is trying to create utopia on earth through social engineering. The only difference is the ultimate goal being sought.

Cultural Christianity seeks an outward form of religion without an inward connection to Christ. It focuses on political priorities over biblical ones. And it de-emphasizes church participation.

Here’s the problem: Man is a fallen creature. It is impossible to create utopia on earth through human effort – even if the desired result corresponds to biblical teachings. People simply do not naturally do what is right. There must be an inner change that makes them want to live according to God’s will, and that only happens when a person’s life is changed through a personal relationship with Christ.

Even people who want society to be governed by biblical values will not faithfully live out those values in their personal lives. And the ultimate result is that, on a personal level, they keep making exceptions to the values they say they believe in when it seems expedient to do so. They become cultural Christians and are essentially no different from Ramaswamy.

Genuine Christianity involves individuals personally entering into a personal relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Cultural Christianity is a false religion.

Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth MirageRules for Christians RadicalsLiberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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