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Theories of Culture
Transcript of Theories of Culture
A New Agenda for Theology
Theories of Culture
Professor of Systematic Theology
How to Fight Like Christians
18th - 19th
Agreement, she proposes, is not about consensus but “about how to have an
an argument that can, at any particular point, turn back against what was initially agreed upon, in an effort to rework it.”
The Evolution of the Term
from a modern, western, Euro-American bias
social control and a centralized state
to bring individuals up to the desired level of perfection
= external behaviors of society
= society's intellectual, artistic, and spiritual achievements
particularistic and group-bound
= anti-modernist and anti-Enlightenment ideals
"not the expression of some class or group of people; it is the expression our humanity and as such should be found everywhere in the same form." (Arnoldian ideal)
is a group-differentiating, holistic, nonevaluative, and context-relative notion.
multiple cultures in the
"The postmodern anthropologist can still consider culture an essentially consensus-building feature of group living. That consensus becomes, however, extremely minimalistic: it forms the basis for conflict as much as it forms the basis for shared beliefs and sentiments. Whether of not culture is a common focus of agreement, culture binds people together as a common focus for engagement." (57)
"Cultural identity becomes, instead, a hybrid, relational affair, something that lives between as much as within cultures." (57-58)
"a culture includes its own alternatives and these more clearly represent unavoidable challenges to one another. the anthropologist promotes self-criticism, in short, by uncovering and giving sense to the internal contestations of a culture, by disputing the homogeneity and consistency of a culture, by resisting the temptation to assume unified cultural totalities." (58)
The Postmodern Notion of Cultures
The Nature of Theology
"The ability of specialized theology to influence everyday Christian life is therefore dependent on the consent of regular rank-and-file Christians…no academic theology stands a chance of influencing the direction of everyday Christian life unless it makes some sense to people from their own theological outlooks." (85)
"Finally, a reachable goal of great value is simply the strengthening of the
bonds of Christian fellowship
. Through the ongoing practice of choosing
there emerges a strengthening of the commitment
to search for the meaning of Christian discipleship together
, with both seriousness about the stakes and an eagerness to make something good come of
“concern for true discipleship, proper reflection in human words and deeds of an object of worship that always exceeds by its greatness human efforts to do so.” (152)
"Academic theology is about everyday Christian practice in that the beliefs, symbols, and values that academic theologians work with have their primary locus or circulation there." (80)
Theologians are now primarily called to provide, not a theoretical argument for Christianity’s plausibility, but an account of how Christianity can be part of the solution, rather than simply part of the problem, on matters of great human moment that make a life-and-death difference to people, especially the poor and the oppressed.
Questions for Conversation
Is there a Christian Culture?
Are we Resident Aliens?
Cop-Out or Eschatological Hope?
one must simply wait, without drawing precipitous conclusions, for consensus among Christians to arise in the course of the argument that Christianity is." (172)
Can the Gospel look like this?
Can There Be Christian Fellowship
When the Definition of Culture is Conflict?