I’m currently reading a very interesting book. It’s called “Christ and Culture” by H. Richard Niebuhr, and it’s 50 years old.
I included that last bit about the book’s age because if you’re even a casual student of culture, you understand that culture changes - that is its nature. The culture of the U.S. was vastly different 50 years ago than it is today (example: a gallon of gas 50 years ago cost $0.19 compared to the $3.56 we have here in Des Moines this morning!), yet this book reads as though it was written yesterday. (“Culture,” Niebuhr says, “holds its inhabitants as the sea holds a fish.” How great is that!)
Niebuhr discusses the different postures that Christians normally take towards the culture they find themselves in. They read like this:
Christ against Culture: Christians and the pagan culture are at odds; at war.
Christ of Culture: The movements of Christ can be found within the historicity of a culture.
Christ above Culture: The current world in which we find ourselves living acts a “waiting room” for the Christian - more of a nuisance than anything.
Christ and Culture in Paradox: Christians and the surrounding culture and in a struggle of disbelief that will ultimately be determined by the ending of time.
Christ Transforming Culture: The Christian here believes that God is moving in the here and now, actively transforming the culture in the present, and not just when Christ returns.
I may have totally just nerded out and lost you all, but do you see yourself/Christians you know fitting into any of these categories? If you are a Christian, what’s your position towards culture? Towards the world in which we live in?