Christianity and Culture
Sep 16, Every generation of Christians must work out their relationship with the culture around them. Culture changes over time. Changes in. Christians have through the ages understood the relationship between Christianity and culture in different ways. Our understanding of this relationship is not. Culture and Christianity. The relationship between Christianity and culture is a perennial problem. In his book Christ and Culture, H. Richard Niebuhr* analyzes .
The simple truth is that other people do not understand our religion, and in order to reach these people we need to reach them at their level and not shackle them to our religious thinking. Doing so only makes them want nothing to do with religion. It makes you happy that your religious beliefs represent a majority of people. Try, if you can, to realize that most of the time biblical examples of the Christian life relate to small things.
We are called to walk a narrow road. Our faith is to be as small as a mustard seed. Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up everything. Christianity was born in a world that already had religious super powers.
You think that your own religious obligations are ethical and moral statements for all people. This is how religious obligations work. We have a personal relationship with God, God wants certain things from us, and so we do those things out of our obligation to that relationship.
It is a category mistake to think that because of this our religious duties represent moral truths for all humanity. Some Christians think that they should not drink alcohol.
A healthy relationship between Christianity and culture - SpokaneFāVS
It also portrays more accurately than most the dynamic, relational nature of Christian faith, expressing the freedom of reaction to divine action, and service of the neighbour rather than the self, against strict and static obedience to the direct requirements of the law. These virtues are accompanied by the related vices: Though the dualists do not intend it, they still make forms of rationalization available to the wayward and the weak.
Their understanding of culture more as restraining evil and preventing anarchy than as a positive force toward true life, and their lack of commitment to the broken temporal reality has lead dualists often to identify fall and creation too closely, not entirely doing justice to the creative work of God. These factors have caused dualism to be largely a culturally conservative force, for better or for worse.
This is the primary difference between the dualist and the conversionist approaches p. Christ the Transformer of Culture This view sees the world as fallen, but able to be sanctified personally and socially p. Conversionists agree with anti-culturalists and paradoxical dualists about the fallen perversion of human nature, and the transmission of this perversion in and through culture. The brokenness of culture is recognized without recognizing any particular need for Christian separation from or mere endurance in human culture.
Rather, Christ is seen as converting people within their cultures and societies, not apart from them.
Nature does not exist without culture, and people turn from self and idols toward God only within society. The conversionist approach is part of the great central tradition of Christianity.
The theological roots of this positive attitude towards culture are to be found in an undiluted affirmation of the doctrine of creation, emphasizing the participation of the Word in creation, at once holding creation and redemption in mind without subjugating either.
With regard to sin, the conversionist view emphasizes the radical nature of the fall, but distinguishes it clearly from creation, and does not identify it excessively with life in the material realm, as do the dualists. According to Niebuhr p.
It is perverted good, not evil; or it is evil as perversion, and not as badness of being. The problem of culture is therefore the problem of its conversion, not of its replacement by a new creation; though the conversion is so radical that it amounts to a kind of rebirth. These convictions about creation and fall combine with a view of history as not merely the course of human events but rather the interaction between God and men p.
He lives somewhat less "between the times" and somewhat more in the divine "Now" than do his brother Christians. The eschatological future has become for him an eschatological present. Eternity means for him less the action of God before time and less the life with God after time, and more the presence of God in time.
Eternal life is a Quality of existence in the here and now. Hence the conversionist is less concerned with the conservation of what has been given in creation, less with preparation for what will be given in a final redemption, than with the divine possibility of a present renewal. For the conversionist the kingdom of God is transformed culture, a conversion of the human spirit from self-worship to the worship of God.
CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE: THE CASE FOR REFORMATIONAL CULTURAL ACTIVISM
This is a very real kingdom, since outside of the rule of God nothing can exist, as he sustains everything every moment and as in every moment human beings deal with him p. Niebuhr seems not to criticize the reformational or conversionist approach, except to notice that other approaches more clearly "image into the world" certain aspects of the common Christian faith e.
Integral Antithetical Conversionism One desire has been the ruling passion of my life. One high motive has acted like a spur upon my mind and soul. And sooner than that I should seek escape from the sacred necessity that is laid upon me, let the breath of life fail me.
Eerdmans,9th printing p. Reformational philosophy distinguishes between integral and dualistic understandings of this world, rejecting the latter. It affirms the validity of the human mandate to cultural activity on the basis of the creational order, and thus sees all the world encompassed in creation. Attempts to devise a dualistic interpretation of reality, normally conceived of in terms of a distinction between the secular and sacred realms of reality, are conclusively rejected.
Gordon Spykmnan clearly stated this position in an essay contained in D. Eaker Book House,p. Confessing redemption as the restoration of creation, the Reformational worldview stood for the sovereignty of God over all, and held that the saving work of Jesus Christ liberates the Christian community for obedient discipleship and responsible stewardship in every sphere of life. Scripture reopens the doors to every corner of Gods creation. Christian liberty is a gift of God in Jesus Christ, a freedom which is to be exercised in holiness.
Such holy freedom impels Christians to reclaim every sphere of life for the King - home, school, church, state, college, university, labor, commerce, politics, science, art, journalism, and all the rest. There is no order of being except that which we explore with our senses and our instruments.
There is no condition of well-being except that of a healthy and comfortable life in time. There is no God to be worshipped, for no God created us. There is no God to propitiate, for there is no God to offend.
There is no reward to be sought and no punishment to be avoided except those which derive from earthly authority.
Christianity and Culture
There is no law to be obeyed except those which earthly authority imposes or earthly prudence recommends. Biblical precepts allow him to offer such a critique. His example can be an encouragement for us. May God guide us as we apply biblical precepts to evaluate our culture. Rejecting Cultural Biases, Developing Interaction What do you think of the culture in which you live? In particular, what do you think of the broader American culture in which your sub-culture is found? For example, are you comfortable with the adage: I have discussed the need to assess culture through the use of biblical precepts, the first principle of cultural evaluation.
The second principle is focused on what I call cultural bias. If we are to interact with cultures other than our own, and if we seek honestly to evaluate our own, we must be cautious of biases. Henry, a great theologian, apologist, and cultural critic has enumerated what he calls twenty fantasies of a secular society.
This vague political theology assumes that America can never drift irrecoverably beyond divine approval, and that the nation is intrinsically exempt from severe and final divine judgment. But we do not have to be foreign missionaries to experience the effects of cultural bias. The United States has become such a multicultural environment that Christians can and must understand the importance of rejecting cultural biases. Interaction but not Accommodation The third principle of cultural evaluation focuses on the need for interaction with culture, but not accommodation.
There should be no fear in this if we are using biblical precepts, the first of our principles. But we need to be alert to the ways in which we can become enmeshed in the culture. In addition, we should be accountable to one another by offering warnings when we observe such entanglement. Without cultural interaction evangelicals leave numerous important facets of contemporary cultural life without the light of truth they can offer. A cursory reading of post-Enlightenment history will demonstrate the progressive decrease of evangelical interaction and the subsequent lack of influence in strategic areas of culture.
For example, American higher education has been guided by principles that leave Christian theism out of the picture. It is crucial, though, that such interaction take place with a sense of accountability.
The person who enters the culture without respect for the ideological dangers that reside there will prove to be foolish. The ideas, the sense of progress, and the pride of cultural accomplishment can lead us to give credit to man instead of God. May the Lord receive praise as He uses us to touch our culture!
A Positive Revolutionary Vision The word revolution tends to have a negative connotation for most of us. A revolutionary most often is seen as someone who engenders rebellion and chaos.
Donald Bloesch speaks to this tension by juxtaposing what he calls prophetic religion and culture religion. The first is anchored in a holy God who infinitely transcends every cultural and religious form that testifies to Him. The second absolutizes the cultural or mythical garb in which God supposedly meets us.
Christians and Culture
We must speak boldly to the culture knowing that the source of our proclamation is the sovereign God. For example, discussion may focus on the latest outrage in the entertainment industry, or the newest bit of intrigue in Washington, or concerns about the sex education emphased in public schools, or controversies surrounding issues of abortion, euthanasia, cloning, homosexuality, child abuse, or a host of other topics. Then notice if constructive suggestions are offered.