Cultural bricolage, Secularism and Truth


(Koot van Wyk, Kyungpook National University, Sangju Campus, South Korea, 9th of January 2021)


Truth and Culture are two swords rubbing against each other. Both consist of values, morals, right and wrong conceptions, destiny perceptions, love versus hate scenarios, loyalty expectations but what separates them is that the origin of the first is from above and the origin of the second is from below. It is the difference what is given by God through revelation or what is worked out with human reason and passions from below.


Truth in Adventism

Truth in Adventist definition ever since early 1844 is biblical orientated lense through which anything isvaluated and accepted as correct or not. The pioneers all followed the same procedure as one can see in the journals like Review and Herald and other online sources from them. The Bible says….approach.


Rebels in Adventism

Here and there were rebellious approaches by, well, rebels and not heroes as Arthur Patrick tried to demonstrate in his 2008 overview of bibliography and scholarship in contemporary Adventism. Scholar from California, then Avondale closely linked with Ford since 1973. Villains cannot be made heroes in Adventism because of the Bible only approach. Those who reject Adventist doctrine soon rejects Ellen White’s Inspiration as well. That is a fact. They soon lament on the so-called ‘absence of the Investigative Judgment doctrine in the Bible’ a common cry by all rebels. Raymond Cottrell a Spectrum contributor in the 70’s did it and he was not happy with Gerhard Hasel at all.

Hasel was insisting on the superiority of Revelation above Cultural or human reason but Cottrell, Spectrum, Adventist Today and other California networks and links online tries to reverse this order by placing Culture over Revelation. Abortion, Gender issues, woman in the work-space including the pastoral role, challenging the biblical seven day creation period are added to place culture above the biblical approach. They are quickly to put the Bible not as what it means today but what it meant then. A separation between old and new. So they develop the concept of “conservative” and “progressive”.


Conservative versus Progressive debate

In his video on the subject, the Calvinist turned Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft said:

“Worst of all, Progressivism clearly contradicts the very idea of a divine revelation. If there is such a revelation, Progressivism corrects it, corrects God Himself, and arrogates to itself the right to edit rather than deliver the divine mail, evaluating it by dating its postmark. Even religions that do not claim a direct divine revelation, like Confucianism, Taoism, or Buddhism, get their teachings from their past, from their founders. Progressivists make it up as they go along.’”

(Peter Kreeft, Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology

September 10, 2010. Downloaded from


Missionary to Africa, Colenso suffering a class of cultural civilizations

In the colonial period missionaries moved to Africa and they brought with them their culture and religion and was focused to share religion with those who did not know at all. In a very good article, Jonathan A. Draper indicated what happened to John Colenso between 1864-1884 in Africa when some form of “mixture” took place in the missionary process of this missionary to Africans, the Zulus. In one place Colenso said that he find it difficult to condemn the Zulus for their faith in superstition, seeing that Higher Criticism, which he endorse, do not believe in miracles and supernatural. Here, according to my view, lies the problem with Colenso. He was not a proper Anglican and neither a proper Adventist to know that he should stick to the norm of the Bible and do not compromise on the way. You cannot make it up as you go along.


How the Process of acculturation works, by Draper and Legge

In this article. J. A. Draper cites M. Legge describing the process of borrowing good and bad from others. This description tells us exactly how the process of secularism originates. Let us take lessons from it.

"In this contestation both parties became bricoleurs, in their own ways, sorting through the debris of the two collapsing social universes for usable odds and ends of culture. Of course it is more obvious in the case of the African converts, since their predicament was the more severe, but it was true also for the missionaries as well, since they constantly found that things did not work as they should and their received ideas were challenged. Both parties engaged in the work of cultural bricolage, as this has been aptly defined (and positively evaluated) by Marilyn Legge (1997:6) in her attempt to address the crisis of the Christian faith in the post-modern era as 'the art of using what is at hand, odd materials for purposes other than intended, to create something useful and distinct to meet a yearning or need. This is an accessible practice often found when people aim to survive against the odds'".

(J. A. Draper, Colenso's Commentary on Romans: An Exegetical Assessment page 107).

Look at the process of bricolage again. Bricolage happen when both sides are in decadence. When religious leaders are not doing their job, are not watchers on the walls for errors creeping in doctrines, are lame with discipline required, are playing around with surrounding forms of music and preaching styles. Borrowing sermons from tapes, books, without synchronizing it with the Adventist truth, then you have bricolage. A broken religion that scoops up from whatever is around and that happens to be culture and what it has to offer.


Secular cults

In this process of bricolage, secular institutions and secular agnostic, atheistic people pick up from religion whatever is useful from religion, throw away God from the wording and voice the same so-called values, morals that they have designed from below around abortion, equality paradigms, gender strangeness recognition, woman in all roles recognized, and the green theology sacredly accepted as a duty to their god, mother earth. It is with these values that people with weak religious convictions scoop up and go along with culture and take hands also going through a process of bricolage. End-result: skew Adventism. Off-road doctrinal positions on the Investigative Judgment. The Nature of Man related to the possibility of attaining perfection.


The way now

Bible believing worshippers are the only ones that will be sealed by the Holy Spirit. It was not allowed to be wishy washy in the Old Testament and that is also not permitted today. The biblical message for all generation are the same. Unaltered. It is not the biblical message that has to change. It is not doctrines that has to change. It is people that must not be deceived by bricolage around them and participating in this disease that could keep them out of the Kingdom of God.