Are All Cultures Equal?

Having spent a latter career in education, I was privileged to witness first hand the varieties of ideas, programs, theories and assorted efforts that permeate the field.  I attended countless meetings, training sessions, conferences and classes of which those apart from the field would have little knowledge.

I was blessed to have been in a small city that was essentially conservative and traditional in most everything.  Still, all of the latest trends, ideas, attitudes and whatever it is that drives the field somehow ends up in every government school system regardless the location.  And like every profession, everyone wants to be on the cutting edge of progress and appear to be highly educated and intelligent.

I recall one workshop, the main purpose of which now escapes me, where the emphasis was on respecting other groups and cultures.  Since our state is home to multiple groups and races, this topic comes up often.  The leader went on and on about the music of a particular group, a recorded example of which was played.  Praise and wonderment about the uniqueness and artistry of this music seemed to never end.  At the end of this session, everyone was now wishing they belonged to this group and marveled at the incredible quality and originality.

Well, this was not the time for me to voice my opinion on the matter unless I wanted to get in trouble, and I already did that too much.  However, I did agree that the music was unique and the artists were performing what was passed down from their forefathers.  Truly I did appreciate their sincere efforts to be the best they could be within the context of their society, and we should always respect all people of the world and not think that anyone is inherently better or superior to others.  But that has to do with their worth as a child of God, and not necessarily their accomplishments.

Later I had opportunity to register my opinion in a more friendly setting, and this is what is true.  We can appreciate anyone’s effort as sincere, but we should not necessarily mistake anything offered as being top-notch quality compared to world standards.  I explained that this “primitive” music would never reach the level of, say, a Bach fugue, one of the most complex musical compositional forms.  In fact western civilization’s contribution to music, and most other disciplines, is without comparison in the entire world.  If an untrained music lover were to sit in a lecture on how the fugue is constructed, they would go away wondering how anyone could ever write one.  I think the same thing, and I am a trained musician.

Western civilization is essentially the history of Christianity.  The contributions in all areas of human endeavor have overshadowed those of all other people, with the exception of some outliers here and there.  The attack on this heritage has been growing over the decades, and comes from higher education where there is disdain for the accomplishments of, as is often termed, “dead white men.”  In many quarters the United States and its historical contributions are the victim of some elitists “deconstruction” philosophy that characterizes just about everything in the development of western civilization, including Christianity, as being bogus.

When reading in the Old Testament I am often struck, as are others, by the mayhem that God dishes out to those opposed to his chosen people Israel.  At that time sin was so rampant that God could only deal with Israel if they were totally separated from all cultures.  It was so bad that they were instructed to destroy all the inhabitants of the cities they conquered, even women and children, and it still didn’t work.  They continually went after false gods and did “what was evil in the sight of God.”

There is a principle here that continues to this very day and is true throughout the world.  Every culture has its belief system, and most of the social life is built around those beliefs.   The degree of any society’s dysfunction is based on its religion, but, in that every religion, other than Christianity, is in fact a false religion, the resulting cultures must be defective, but only in varying degrees.  Whether the behavior is relatively benign or brutal and murderous will depend on what their false religion teaches and thus how it shapes the culture.

The survival of the Jewish people, and the incredible exceptionalism of western civilization shaped by Christianity, is in stark contrast to the myriad of cultures that have caused the pain and suffering in the world.  Only when the true God reigns in the lives of its people will cultures have the decency that can be considered humane and civilized.  False gods develop defective cultures.

“In the fullness of time,” God would bring forth the Savior, Jesus Christ.  The progressive revelation of God’s plan could now be complete as the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh.  No longer would God need His people to be separated from pagan influences.  If fact, Christians were now instructed to go out into the world and make converts.  The difference now was God inhabiting His people.  They are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit for witness and service.  They are intentionally in the world, but not of the world.  God Himself keeps them safe, pure, and separated in their heart and life.

That reality became the wonder of the world, and produced Godly men and women to advance mankind beyond anything before possible.  They not only, through God, advanced society and culture, but made disciples now destined for eternal life.  The perfect will of God for His creation has played out just as planned.

And while the Godly influence of our Post-Christian culture in the United States is fast losing its grip on society, we can be assured that God is in control.  We may yearn for the “good ole’ days” when our country was, in fact, a Christian Nation, all the while knowing that God will control the rise and fall of civilizations and His judgment cannot be avoided.  Praise be to God.


  1. Rachael MacPhee says:

    Good to have you back Grandad! We always love reading your thoughtful thoughts. 🙂 LOVE YOU!!!!!

  2. Alan Dodd says:

    Thank you Rachael. Your kindness and big heart are a blessing.

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