When men and women create a particular social environment, one which is reflected in the lives of a group of people, we call it culture. From religious beliefs and societal norms to art work and political factors, culture is a broad term used to describe the way most people within a given locality think and live.
It is a blessing, therefore, that Bible's message is transcultural. That is, its central tenets are universally applicable. Still, this does not mean that there is no concern among the biblical writers about the recipients of the gospel. Indeed, they are mindful of the cultural surroundings in which people find themselves. While the message remains the same, the manner in which it is presented differs according to the habits, religious beliefs, and general mind set of the listener. So, for instance, in some places the gospel is preached within an environment where there is common agreement about the nature of God. In other locations this same gospel is presented in a form that is appropriate to (though never compromising with) that societal situation.
In all of this, of course, there is a concern to know the Christian message—its contents, warnings, and promises. But something else is also important to the communication of God's Word. That something is an understanding of the people we encounter. What this means for the Christian apologist is of extreme relevance, for both content (i.e., the good news itself) and context (i.e., the social milieu in which the message is communicated) are integrally connected to the successful teaching of truth. To neglect the truth is to offer nothing of lasting value. On the other hand, ignorance of societal trends can only result in an irrelevant, out-of-touch message.
Christian apologetics, therefore, must take into account the people it seeks to reach with the gospel. As this is done, the message received will not only be true, but also clear and forceful. Because the Christian must learn to apply the Bible in real world, this section of "Truth & Things" will seek ways to apply the unchanging Word of God to the ever-changing situations in which we find ourselves.
If you want to build bridges to any culture, you need to be an observer of it. As the history of Christian missions makes clear, the best apologist to a culture is someone who belongs to that culture, not someone imported into it.
We really do not witness to Christ adequately unless we set forth the significance of his person and work for all men and for the whole of their culture.
People are reached not by expecting them to come to us, but by us going to them.
[The Church’s] responsibility is not only to hold to the basic, scriptural principles of the Christian faith, but to communicate these unchanging truths “into” the generation in which it is living.
If we are to argue our case effectively, not only do we need to be masters of what we believe and why, but we must also appreciate the outlook and problems of those we are trying to reach. Otherwise we are in very real danger of talking at cross purposes.