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Culture vs. Doctrine

When looking at a religious community, there can be a tendency to see cultural components as doctrine. Chrisitan doctrine, for this blog, is being defined as an attempt to state terms of the message of the gospel and the content of the faith rooted in the gospel. Many have walked away from Christianity or even spirituality/religion due to the upheld cultural components presented as doctrinal beliefs. The more I have researched the White fundamental evangelical community, there seems to be an overlay of making cultural values be Christian doctrine. In later posts, I will be highlighting how collective religious abuse/control is formulated and perpetuated by some Christian leaders and members to maintain the cultural values (e.g., Christian nationalism, authoritarianism, patriarchy, gender roles, etc.) they want to continue by positioning cultural values as doctrine. If these cultural values are doctrine, then it will be harder for the members to fight against it and join in passing down the desired framework to the younger generations.

Culture is complex and has many layers to unpack. It can be challenging to identify what culture is within our own culture since we have been taught things before our brain developed with the capacity to question; therefore, we tend to readily accept what is taught to us at a young age. Additionally, when our culture surrounds us, we don't notice what is cultural due to not being aware of how others live differently than our own.

Looking at the White fundamental evangelical culture is no different for those of us who have been encompassed by it. Therefore, as we continue to explore or take off the rose-colored glasses to break free of the religious subculture, it is essential to practice separating out culture from the doctrine/spiritual values or beliefs.

So many different dynamics develop culture. It is passed down through narratives, language, and traditions. Spiritual values can shape culture and vice versa. What comes to mind when thinking of culture? Food? Spoken language? Music? Dancing? It can be hard to distinguish what comprises culture as it is very complex. There is a more extensive cultural system and smaller subcultures (i.e., family, faith systems, race, gender, etc.), which can spin off the larger culture. One area I had to wrestle with is how do I even start to explore a culture I have been submerged in since I was born? I didn't even realize that so many things were part of a cultural component.

Edward Hall created a Cultural Iceberg Model in 1976, which is very helpful in understanding culture. Like an iceberg, there are components to culture that can be seen, and a more significant portion is underneath.

This model also helps to understand some components of Evangelical culture that tend to be framed as doctrine. A pattern of having a cultural framework/rose-colored glasses to define doctrinal values to uphold the desired narrative exists within the White fundamental evangelical culture. It is important to note that this pattern doesn't exist solely within the White fundamental evangelical culture; however, they will be the only religious subculture discussed for this blog.

Additionally, it is hard to know ones' culture until there is an interaction with those who have a different culture to distinguish the different cultural components. The White fundamental evangelical culture aims to limit interactions with those different from themselves as an identity and protective factor. Ironically, this separation from others around themselves is also an identified component of a religious abuse/control cycle.

As I continue to process and explore the White fundamental evangelical culture and take off my rose-colored glasses, it will be essential to be mindful of how the culture is being molded into doctrine/religious values as a part of the identified abuse cycle.

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