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How to Evaluate Cultural Traditions, and Practices

How to Evaluate Cultural Traditions, and Practices

By
Richard W. Greene

As we work with people and groups from many different religious and
cultural back grounds, we often encounter practices, traditions, and beliefs
that are very different from our own. Some are good and express the beauty and
positive character of the people. Others may not be good, and may, in fact, be
very detrimental to those who practice them. How can we, as disciples of
Christ, properly assess these things? Here are some key things we must evaluate
to determine the biblical acceptability of any religious or cultural practice.

  1. What does Scripture
    say about it?

    1. Is this practice mentioned in the
      Bible?

      1. Is it mentioned directly or
        illustrated?
      1. Is it mentioned in a list of other
        activities?
      1. Is it compared to other activities?
    1. What does the Bible say about this
      practice?
    1. Are there examples of this activity
      being practiced by individuals or groups?
    1. Is the activity viewed favorably or
      unfavorably?
  2. What is the source
    of this practice?

    1. Source determines nature (John
      3:6).
    1. Is it from the Spirit (holy) or the
      flesh (common)?
    1. Does it involve an occultic act or
      artifact?
    1. Was it commanded, given, or
      directed by God?
    1. Is it pure or syncretistic (mixed)
      in its current form?
    1. Has it been corrupted from its
      original nature?
    1. If corrupted, can it be redeemed?
    1. How does this practice reflect
      Christ and His will?
  3. What is the purpose
    and use of this practice?

    1. Is the primary purpose of this
      practice religious or is it common (non-religious)? Is it necessary?
    1. Is it an “old thing” of the world,
      or is it a “new thing” of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)?
    1. Does the practice do something
      apart from God that God should be doing in your life?
    1. Is it used to promote God’s designs
      and purposes?
    1. Does this practice serve others or
      is it self-gratifying?
  4. What is the effect
    of this practice?

    1. Does this thing reveal and honor
      Christ?
    1. Does it glorify God?
    1. Does it divide people or unite them
      (Acts 15:13-29)?
    1. Does it generate holiness and
      character?
    1. Is it a fruit of the Spirit or a
      work of the flesh?
    1. Does it bind me to unbelievers (2
      Corinthians 6:14-18)?
    1. Does it offend other believers
      (Romans 14)?
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