A summary and discussion questions are below. Talman’s central text is:
Become Like: “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” 1 Cor. 9:22.
Remain Like: “Brothers, each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called.” 1 Cor. 7:24.
From the beginning of the church, the power of the gospel has radically transformed the lives of those it touches. However, some in the early church created barriers that hindered the spread of the gospel across new cultures. The barrier was a requirement that Gentile believers get circumcised and become Jewish to be validated as members of the believing community. Acts 15 records the council where various positions were discussed and ultimately freedom prevailed: Gentiles could remain uncircumcised and be fully part of the believing community. This agreement unleashed the gospel to cross cultural barriers and allowed new believers to remain within their own culture.
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
- Which of our cultural practices of Christianity do you think we have exported or are easy to export?
- How can we be more sensitive to make sure that we are advocating a biblical understanding of Christianity and not a cultural one?
- What do you think about Talman’s “Become Like, Become As” article where he says that new believers in Christ should not change their religious identity; that believers who come from a Muslim background should stay Muslim in identity and culture?