Volume. XXXVI, No. 28
Sunday, 09 January 2022

The Secularization of Christianity through Cultural Context

A cultural context is a formation of a concept – whether intentionally or unintentionally – that shapes the worldview of a society, and that gives meaning to a cultural element. It is formed evolutionarily through a presentation of a series of smaller exposure units called the cultural texts. For instance, the formation of the concept of inclusivity in today’s world is achieved through a series of cultural texts such as advertisements on the media, endorsements by public figures, and/ or the education of the public – and very often young – mind.


Cultural context is present in every aspect of society and life. Christianity is not immunized against it. The secular cultural context of Christianity has prevailed over the past couple of decades. The easiest example for us to see is Christmas. We are often exposed to the cultural texts that tell us that Christmas should no longer be viewed as a Christian holiday. There are those who give evidence of how Christmas started as a pagan holiday, and that Christians stole this holiday idea from paganism.


The Guerrilla Tactics of Cultural Texts

What is more dangerous, however, is the quiet forming of this cultural context to redefine Christianity. This inconspicuous brain-feeding is achieved through several cultural texts that might seem unrelated, and yet they all are there to serve a common purpose. This might be presented through a movie, an advertisement on the media, or through a set of oratorical presentations. Instead of openly declaring war against Christmas as a Christian holiday, proponents of the secularization of Christmas use various cultural texts to form the secular Christmas cultural context. Make no mistake about it: as peaceful as it seems, these proponents are mostly radicals. But because the formation of a cultural context is subtle, people fall for it without realizing it. There is a reason why shopping malls constantly play Christmas music in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Corporations capitalize on the sublimation of this cultural context into our mindset. It is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year,” and therefore go ahead and spend more money for it. You owe it to yourself or to your friends or to your family to make sure you and they have a wonderful Christmas – all done so below our conscious level. So, instead of a campaign against Christians celebrating Christmas, a new cultural context is formed in which Christmas is redefined and should be celebrated by everyone.


This has resulted in not just a Christ-less Christmas, but also a stressful one. Melody Wilding, a Performance Coach and Professor of Human Behaviour writes that it is “because the brain becomes oversaturated, triggering a negative response. If you're already worried about money, work, or seeing family during the holidays, the constant inundation of cheerful tunes may reinforce your stress instead of relieving it.”[1] How sad is it that a holiday celebrating the birth of a Saviour becomes the most stressful time of the year?


The Resulting Secular Cultural Context of Christianity

With regards to Christianity itself, a cultural text might present the notion that Christianity is all about going to church, or that Christianity is all about doing good deeds, or that Christianity is all about following a set of rigid rules and regulations, or that Christianity is fused into a conservative political stand. All these different cultural texts seem harmless – and even bearing a positive message – to society. Once again, as virtuous as it seems, however, the proponents are radicals. At the heart of it all is a cultural context promoting a Christ-less Christianity.


The resulting secular cultural context from the different cultural texts now teaches us that as Christianity is just another pious concept. We think of Christianity as just an activity, a good deed, a feel-good message, a morally upright teaching, or even a political stand. Spirituality at best is just a product of our own imagination or aimless meditation.


It is often not only the “secular world” who pushes for such a cultural context, and it is not a new phenomenon. More than a decade ago, Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York argued that, “There is a strong case for regarding the Church as a public body that does not exist simply to serve believers...Whether or not most people attend regularly is irrelevant.”2 His idea of turning a church into an institution like a hospital – which treats both believers and non-believers – sounds like such a virtuous idea. And if we for one second think his idea is great, we have bought into his cultural text.


This happens not just externally, but also internally amongst those in the Christian circle.  The diffusion of the sacred with the “feel-good” has grown exponentially all in the name of “reaching-out.” Many proponents of the so-called modern or contemporary Christian forms of worship often argue that we need to adjust to the ever-evolving interests in society – especially amongst the young people – in order for the church to survive. This is why so many “liturgical services” are changed into more “aesthetically pleasing” form of services, with loud band and secular-styled music, and spiritually shallow or non-biblical “emotionally invoking” preaching. And thus, the worship of God has turned into an emotional experience.


The problem is not just the style of worship, but also the preaching of the Word of God. While different styles of worship might still be defendable (because they do not alter the message of the Scripture), there is no justification for the watering down of the Bible, and indeed, the secularization of the Word of God. The result of this is a liberal form of Christianity, which replaces the Bible with their own philosophies. Let’s get this straight: any teaching that deviates from the Bible is not Christianity. Liberal Christianity is not Christianity.


The acceptance of same sex marriage by some churches, for example, is the fruit of this abandonment of the Word of God. When interviewed in an article in Moody Media3, Dr Erwin Lutzer states that, “We are in a cultural current driven by the media and liberal churchmen, all of whom are beating the drums for same-sex marriages.” In the same article, Dr Lutzer describes how in the 1970s the radicals pressured the American Psychiatric Association to “remove homosexuality from its list of psychiatric illnesses and reclassify it as normal behavior. This change was made, not because of scientific data, but because radicals planned a systematic effort to disrupt the annual meetings of the APA.” And the strategies used by the radicals to make us accept same sex marriage “included disinformation, winning the allegiance of sympathetic media, and intimidation.”


The Defence Against an Unbiblical Cultural Context

The level of our acceptance of cultural context depends on our life principles. And when it comes to the religious cultural context, the way with which we engage it depends on our worldview. Ultimately, we must understand that Christianity is all about Christ. There cannot be Christianity without Christ.


So, it is very obvious for us to see that we need to beware of cultural texts. We need to be careful with what we read, watch on TV or at the cinema, and listen to on the radio – even casually. More importantly, our defence against an unbiblical cultural context is our biblical context. The Bible is our defence against the secularization of Christianity.


In defending a position, one must have a ground to stand on. Our foundation is nothing other than the Scripture. We believe it as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. Therefore, the Bible is the highest authority in our life (2 Timothy 3:16-17.) We read and follow what is written in it.


Our Biblical learning and devotion lead us to spiritual growth. This in turn allows us to mature. Our spiritual maturity equips us with a spiritual discernment that increases our sensitivity to ungodly or worldly messages. This makes us ready to filter all kinds of cultural texts and reject the unbiblical ones, thereby preventing an unbiblical cultural context from forming in us.


Bro Edy Lok



 [1] Wilding, Melody. Neuroscience Says Holiday Music Is Mentally Draining: Studies show stress and Christmas songs don't mix. Inc.com. December 1, 2017.


2 Mohler Jr., R. Albert. The Secularization of the Church. The Christian Post. December 12, 2008.


3 Lutzer, Erwin W. The Debate Over Same Sex Marriage. Moody Church Media. 2004.



More Lively Hope



  • Daily Manna for Jan-Mar 2022 (adult and junior) are now available. 
  • Worship Service helpers for next week are on the front cover.
  • Due to the current COVID-19 situation, all worshippers are strongly encouraged to worship virtually via Facebook or YouTube.
  • Please observe physical distancing & mask/ hygiene rules, especially whilst indoors.
  • Tithes & offerings - please see Lively Hope for bank details.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, providence & protection.
  • Journey mercies for all who have travelled.



  • God’s guidance & protection amidst the current Covid-19 situation.
  • Those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Healing: Rev Pong Sen Yiew and all others who are unwell.
  • Journey mercies for all those travelling.




© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041