In thinking a little about the impact gospel and it's trancendence over culture, the first thing that struck me was the need to remind myself that culture is not infallible. Local churches should be a placse that encompass people of many cultures, true. But before we can seriously think about the struggles that this presents or the solutions that recognising the impact of culture might give us, it is vital that we recognise that all of our cultural identities are a mixture of good and bad. There are things that fit with the Bible and things that don't. In no way would I suggest that the fact that something is in our culture makes it right to be in the church.
For example, as we see from passages such as Galatians 2:11-14, it was customary in 1st century Jewish culture to avoid any meaningful contact with Gentiles. This was accepted and expected behaviour. Yet, the book fo Galatians and other passages in the scriptures show this cultural value to be irreconcilable with the gospel. It had to go.
I could think of many areas of my own culture (21st century UK) that would need a smiliar treatment. I was brought up with schooling that promoted sexual exploration and permissiveness. That clearly does not fit with the Bible (1 Corinthians 6:18). Similarly, UK culture is becoming more and more geared to getting what is best for me, often at the expense of others. Again, something that is contrary to scripture (Philippians 2:4).
It is true that the church is made up of people of many cultures and there should be no expectation for people to completely extricate themselves from their culture. The gospel does not demand the Chinese woman to become a British woman in order to be part of the church. Yet, there are many things in all of our cultures that do not fit with the Bible. Where this is the case, we must boot the cultural value, expectancy, action, art or whatever it is into touch. Surely culture should never be the Christian's governing principle. As God's people shouldn't God's word take that place in the church?