Walking with God in Clash with Our Culture
(Genesis 6:5 - 7:5)
Dr James F Davis
A couple of months ago, I was approached by a leader of a campus Christian
fellowship at the University of Maryland asking for some help. He said that more and
more times students are encountering a changing landscape of our culture in their
evangelistic and Bible study efforts. To use the parable of the soils as an analogy: There
is a new soil out there. The soil has a different depth; the soil has a different color; the
soil has a different texture; it’s the soil of rejection that truth is obtainable; it’s the soil
of rejection of authority; it’s the soil of indifference; it’s the soil of meaninglessness; it’s
the soil of whatever.
In short, as he described it, it is the soil of Postmodernism. Postmodernism, as I have
been discovering, is something that is nebulous; it is hard to get a handle on it, what it is
and how it is affecting our culture. It is there in sometimes subtle and often not so
Postmodernism is a spiritual and philosophical condition of our culture which rejects
all concepts of truth, structures of authority and meaning to life. Some prominent
symbols of postmodernism in our culture are: 1) America’s longest running cartoon:
The Simpsons, and 2) recently exploding onto the scene is the murder mystery religious
novel The Da Vinci Code. The 2003 best-selling book by Dan Brown has sparked the
interest of millions of average people worldwide. According to the most recent figures,
the book has sold more than 43 million copies, has been translated into dozens of
languages, and is now a movie. Among other things, the book falsely explicitly and
implicitly promotes the idea that all history is made up; the Bible is merely from man
not God; faith is only fiction; Jesus was merely a man whom the church embellished to
be a god; He was actually married and had a child, which was covered up by the church;
free sex without the boundaries of marriage is good.
Does all this tell us something about the culture we live in? I think it does, and it
points out that what we as Christians believe and do are in fundamental conflict with
much of our culture. In fact, we are in clash with it. Whether we like it or not, our
culture is colliding with us, and we dare not harmonize with it.
How are we doing? Do we feel the impact of the collision between God’s truth and
our culture? Do we sense the conflict? Or are we inappropriately adapting our beliefs
and behaviors to what is going in the non-Christian culture around us? Are we
maintaining and enhancing our fellowship with God as all of this goes on around us?
Are we, according to the biblical metaphor, “walking with Him”? Noah was a man in
clash with his culture, yet the Bible says that He walked with God.
Consider Genesis 6:5-13:
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that
every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was
sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the
LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both
man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made
them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 This is the genealogy of
Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And
Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 The earth also was corrupt before
God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and
indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God
said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with
violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (NKJV,
Genesis 7:1 reads, Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your
household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation”
(NKJV).God saw that Noah was righteous. In Hebrew, the word is singular. So it could
be understood in this context: “as you alone are righteous.” The rest are evil. Genesis 6:9
describes Noah as a just man, blameless in his generations. In New Testament
terminology, Noah was above reproach. Noah was not perfect. He had failures, as we see
him getting drunk after the flood and exposing his nakedness in an improper fashion.
But his character was solid as far as God’s description of him is concerned. He was not
only righteous in character, but according to 2 Peter 3:8, he was a preacher of
righteousness. Noah, even just by building the ark, preached that God’s judgment was
coming. For the postmodernist, there is no morality, only expediency. If it works, do it.
Don’t feel restricted by someone else’s boundaries of conduct. Explore your full
potential in any area. Again in The Da Vinci Code, Professor Langdon states, “It was man
not God, who created the concept of original sin, whereby Eve tasted of the apple and
caused the downfall of the human race.”5
When it comes to standards of righteousness, are not we in clash with our culture?
Like Noah, could God write of us that we were blameless, righteous in our conduct? Am
I blameless in my relationships? Am I blameless at work? Do I have the character that I
stand up and do the right thing when all those around me are doing the wrong thing?
This is not about reputation, but character. Reputation is what people think about us;
character is what God knows about us. Some might say, “That’s too high of a standard
for me.” But God is interested in progress and spiritual growth. Are we at least trying to
go in the right direction? Noah walked with God with righteous character.
Someone might think the days of Noah are long past. It’s not that relevant to me.
Jesus stated in regard to His second coming, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My
words will by no means pass away. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even
the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will
the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered
the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will
the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:35-39 NKJV, emphasis mine).
Eating, drinking, marrying; everything is normal; everything is always going to continue
as it was. It’s so easy to get lulled into the same attitudes. Yes, we need to live our lives,
but I want to suggest that we live them as Noah did - not conformed to the culture
around us but conformed to what God says and what God wants us to do.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world.” Don’t be
conformed to postmodernism; don’t be conformed to modernism. In fact, don’t be
conformed to any worldly “ism,” but rather, “be transformed by the renewing of
your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect
will of God” (NKJV).
D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist of the 19th century, is estimated to have
personally led 1 million people to faith in Jesus Christ. What’s even more amazing about
this estimate is that his ministry occurred before radio or TV broadcasts. Also, he had
very little educational background and never went to high school. One biographer put it
this way: “Moody reduced the population of hell by 1 million souls.”6 How did Moody
get to that point of having such a ministry? God’s grace certainly, but early in Moody’s
career someone challenged him to excel in his walk with God. He said, “D.L., the world
has yet to see what God can do with a man whose heart is completely devoted to him.”
Moody thought about it a moment and responded, “By God’s grace, I’ll be that man.”
“Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). It was God’s grace with
Moody and Noah, and it will be with us as well. When we are resting under our
gravestone, what would it take for the spirit of God to look back on our lives during our
times and say, “That man walked with Me,” or “That woman walked with Me”? It’s going
to take faith, it’s going to take obedience, and it’s going to take character.
Appendix on Postmodernism
The following is some general background on a cultural trend in America known as
A. The Three Major Periods Related to Modernity (general trends only). Pilate’s
question lives on: “What is truth?” For the postmodernist, truth is not obtainable.
· 1. Pre-Modern: New Testament up to Enlightenment. Questions concerning the
truth were addressed directly to Bible and/or Church. An atmosphere of
confidence governed the expectation that agreement in understanding could be
reached. There was a general belief in the supernatural and that God was acting
2. Modernity: Enlightenment through most of 20th Century. Most begin it in 1641
A.D. by French Philosopher Rene Descartes’ famous statement, “cogito ergo sum
= I think, therefore I am.” An atmosphere of trust remained in the individual’s
rational capacity, but everything else was submitted to doubt, especially matters
related to church and church belief. Truth and the greater good were to be
pursued and obtained intellectually through human reason and science. The
stories of the supernatural (Bible) were relegated to purely naturalistic
explanations. Since God did not act in history, man was responsible for his own
The Tenets of Modernity: The Triumph of Reason
· True knowledge is determined with certainty by reason
· Two levels of knowledge: objective/scientific (open to debate) and
subjective/spiritual/moral (only personal conviction)
· World exists in cause-effect relationship
· Knowledge is good; facts are “value-free”
· Progress and scientific discovery will lead to better world and happiness
· Humanity basically good and reason can solve all problems
· Individuals are autonomous in society and have rights society must honor8
· Life has a purpose and a design
1. Post-Modern: 1980s to Present: There is a suspicion that any understanding is
achievable through rational methods. Questions the objectivity of the modern method
and assumes biases in any modern method. It is a rejection and reaction against
modernism. Ideas were around after WWII, but the theory gained some of its strongest
ground early on in French academia. In 1979, Jean-François Lyotard wrote a short but
influential work The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Jean Baudrillard,
Michel Foucault, and Roland Barthes are also strongly influential in postmodern theory.
Wikipedia9 formal definition: the condition of Western society after modernity. . . . in
the era of postmodern culture, people have rejected the grand, supposedly universal
stories and paradigms such as religion, conventional philosophy, capitalism and gender
that have defined culture and behavior in the past, and have instead begun to organize
their cultural life around a variety of more local and sub cultural ideologies, myths and
stories. Furthermore, it promotes the idea that all . . . paradigms are stable only while
they fit the available evidence and can potentially be overturned when phenomena occur
that the paradigm cannot account for, and a better explanatory model (itself subject to
the same fate) is found.
The Tenets of Post-Modernity: The Triumph of Ignorance
· Reacting to the all the tenets of Modernity
· Reject idea of objective truth
· Suspicious and skeptical of authority (family, government and society)
· In search of identity apart from knowledge but through relationship
· No morality, only expediency
· In search of transcendence, to experience otherness
· In quest of meaningful community
· The “knowing smirk” at anyone who says they know the truth10
· Life is absurd and the purpose of life is play
B. Modern and Postmodern
Approaches to the Bible. Things One Sometimes Hears
· “Well, that’s just your interpretation.”
· “The Bible can be made to say anything you want.”
· “You can’t really understand the Bible. It is full of contradictions.”
· “People can justify anything from the Bible.”
· “No one can understand the true meaning of anything anyone says.”
· This is what the Bible means to me.
· What works for you is fine; what works for me is fine, whatever.
(Used by permission) Community Bible Chapel, 418 E. Main Street, Richardson, TX
75081. This is the edited manuscript of a lesson prepared by guest speaker Dr. James F.
Davis on March 26, 2006. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational
purposes only, with or without credit. The Chapel believes the material presented herein
to be true to the teaching of Scripture, and desires to further, not restrict, its potential
use as an aid in the study of God’s Word. The publication of this material is a grace
ministry of Community Bible Chapel.
(Article was edited by me to reduce the length, without taking away from the author’s original
intent. David Drew)