How Cultures Flourish by: Jonathan Morrow

How Cultures Flourish

Flourish. It’s one of those words that just sounds hopeful and inviting. It speaks of health and vibrance. Put simply, things are the way they’re supposed to be. The Oxford dictionary defines it this way: “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, esp. as the result of a particularly favorable environment.”

Sounds simple enough. But there are some pretty important assumptions being made in this definition. First, health assumes an “end goal” or as the ancients used to talk about it, a telos. A healthy tree is one that grows tall and establishes deep roots. Or when you go to the doctor for your annual physical, there is a standard for what “healthy” is for your age, height, weight, etc. The second assumption in Oxford’s definition is that some environments are better than others. In other words, all environments are not created equal. If you attempt to plant an oak tree in the middle of the sahara dessert, that’s not going to work out so well. Why? Because a tree is a certain kind of organism; it has a nature and a design plan.

The connection of what it is and the environment it is placed in determines the level of flourishing.

If this principle is true for trees, then it’s also true for cultures and societies. This is so, because contrary to what you may hear today, human beings have “natures” and “design plans” as well. Consequently, if they are in the right kinds of environments, then they will flourish. This is true physically and socially.

If this is God’s world and he is the architect of reality, then natures and environments are connected.

These are some of the points that we recently discussed on the campus of Impact 360 Institute. On Tuesday night, we hosted a free webstream event with Del Tackett (Creator of the Truth Project). His topic for the evening was “Can A Society Flourish Apart From God’s Design?”
Tackett made the case that we are designed to flourish. This is God’s desire for us based in the creation narrative (cf. Genesis 1–2). Here were just a couple of the important points made during the lecture and the Q & A time:

A Few Key Points

Freedom is being deeply misunderstood today. Our culture has largely embraced the idea that freedom is about doing whatever you want without restraint or consequence. This is simply false. We run into the painful consequences of our misused freedom. True freedom is cooperating with how we were made and designed to function both individually and in relationship with others.

There is no sacred / secular split and Christians should reject this false dichotomy. Christians believe that the arts, media, politics, and economics are just as “spiritual” as what goes on during a sunday morning worship service or personal quiet time. Society has a better chance at flourishing when we are engaging in every sphere of life.

We have significant opportunity to influence society through relationships. Gone are the days when our culture shares our assumptions about reality. We now have the opportunity to show and tell of how God’s design is really best–that’s how we flourish.

Be sure to check out the video for the full conversation we had with Del Tackett (The video of the live event will be available soon here). These were points that Tackett went into greater detail on with our Gap Year students in the classroom for the week. As Christians, it’s good for us to take time to reflect on bigger questions like these.

On April 8th we will be hosting John Stonestreet (co-host of Breakpoint) to talk about “What Should Christians Do With Culture?” Stonestreet will help us better think about engaging culture. Be sure to sign up for the live stream here so we can send you updates and if you are in the Atlanta area, come on down!

Also be sure to check out our new podcast. You can subscribe through iTunes.

See more here.