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THEO 303 (Su '17) T15-16 - Christ & Culture

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Hartmut Scherer

on 1 August 2017

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Transcript of THEO 303 (Su '17) T15-16 - Christ & Culture

story of
creation and fall
of the human race
Sources and Image Credit
Adopted key thoughts from Hollinger,
Choosing the Good
, chapter 9 Christ and Culture (189ff) and Feinberg and Feinberg,
Ethics for a Brave New World
, chapter 14 The Christian and the Secular State (383ff) and from D. A. Carson,
Christ & Culture Revisited
, 44ff.
- you are in Russia helping a church of young
- during the Soviet era the church played virtually no
role in society and culture
- Christians in Russia now have the opportunity to
help shape the future of their country
Christ and Culture
- What role should Christians play in the
transformation of society?
- What should they do when faced with issues that
conflict with their Christian beliefs and moral
Impact of the Christ-culture Question
- Which of Niebuhr's five types comes closest to
your answer?
- what do we
of society (e.g., transformation)
- how do we
to society (e.g., flee, fight, etc.)
- how do we
stimulate change
(e.g., methods)
- what can we
from society (e.g., music style)
Christ and Culture
Christ against culture
Christ of culture
Christ above culture
Christ and culture in paradox
Christ the transformer of culture
- affirms the sole authority of Christ over the Christian
- rejects culture's claim to loyalty
redeemed people
- adherents have few expectations about
influencing the world
- found in Revelations (persecution) and
1 John (lordship of Christ)
fallen society
- Christian faith is merged with the heights of human
insights and civilization
- Christians are thoroughly at home in the world and
its institutions
- Jesus is often seen as the great reformer,
philosopher, and educator
- affirms Christ but also culture as a good gift from
- God ordained the sociocultural order
- there is a dimension of reality that is beyond culture
- sin pervades all that humanity does
- the solution to sinful society is God's grace,
not withdrawal
- there is no escape from the corruption of the world
- recognizes the sinfulness of humanity and culture
- hopes that something can be done to transform
society into a desired religious ideal
- adherents emphasize that God the creator and
God the redeemer are one
- it reminds Christians that there is more to reality
than politics
- some are called to live in the world, others to leave it
render to Caesar
. . . (Matt. 22:21)
- Christians accept the paradox of being
simultaneously committed to Christ and to the
fallen structures of society
- history is the story of God's mighty deeds within
(-) being committed to Christ easily leads to not
engaging the world (not salt and light)
(-) lacks discernment of the complexities of life
(prefer all or nothing)
(-) fails to acknowledge that God created a good
(+) a willingness to deal with cultural realities
(+) shows relevance of faith
(-) Christian faith becomes easily distorted
(embraces culture too much)
(+) Christians receive praise for devotion to Christ
(-) unable to critique culture (too closely tied to it)
(-) Cultural activities are then too easily equated
with God's activity (what is, is right)
(-) it does not generate a strong commitment to live
for God's glory
(-) may fail to see the pervasiveness of sin within
social institutions
(+) all reality finds a place under the reign of God
(-) adherents tend to dichotomize life
(-) strong separation between kingdoms can lead
people to accept the way things are
(+) takes seriously the pervasiveness of sin in
human culture and distinguishes kingdoms
(-) fails to incorporate redemption (cannot remain
content with the way things are)
(+) affirms creation as a good gift of God
(-) fails to see that the primary focus of biblical
ethics is those who believe
(+) takes seriously the call of Jesus to influence the
world (salt and light)
(-) tended to use the world's means to change the
Christ in but not of culture
- "in" points us in the direction of an incarnational
ministry of proclamation
ministry of presence
Great Commission
salt, light, and leaven
compel us
- Christian mission should never be changed at all
costs (John 17:14-19)
- called by God to a life of holiness and faithfulness
Scriptural Teaching
distinguish between description and prescription
OT Israel's experience under the theocracy should not be absolutized
little direct
biblical instruction
not a format for Gentile nations
- man is called to subdue the earth
Gen 1:26-28
- remember the "great turning
points of redemptive history"
(D. A. Carson)
- creation is what grounds all human accountability
to God our Maker
- man is both instructed and permitted by God to
rule over the earth
- we
to delight in him - we
- consumed by our own self-focus, we desire to
dominate or manipulate others
- the heart of all evil is idolatry (dethroning of God)
sin is social
forgiveness and reconciliation
regeneration and transformation
God's world
we were made in God's image
corroded by human rebellion against God
Israel and the Law
("the old covenant")

- the Mosaic Law is the most formal ordering of
society in the OT
- God graciously chooses his own people (Deut. 7; 10)
- the law that God gives touches all of life
- Israel is constituted a theocracy
- the heart of the covenant is about the tabernacle,
the priesthood, the sacrificial system etc.
Christ and the New Covenant
(6 observations)

the incarnation of the eternal Word (John 1:1-18) grounds many exhortations in the NT
A Heaven to Be Gained and a Hell to Be Feared
- NT repeatedly draws our attention to what comes
when Jesus returns
The Story of Israel - a Warrant for Theocracy?
- no guaranty that the king would always follow God
- no indication that God wanted foreign rulers to
institute a theocracy
- some day all human rule will cease, and God will be
absolute monarch
story of Israel
Learning from Daniel and His Three Friends
(Group 2)
1) How did Daniel's three friends live out the relation between Christ & culture in Dan 3?
2) What is Daniel's prophecy about God's rule (Dan 2
+ 7:14)?
(Group 1)
1) What do we know about Babylonian culture at Daniel's time? (consult Bible dictionaries)
2) How did Daniel live out the relation between
Christ and culture in Daniel 1?
Jesus inaugurates the kingdom (reign) of God
Four gospels have been called passion and resurrection narratives with long introductions
Jesus' death established the new covenant
Jesus' death and resurrection are the basis for sending the Spirit to the community of believers
"Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matt. 22:21)
- current relations between Christ and culture have
no final status
- in the inaugurated-but-not-yet-consummated
kingdom, there will be no perfection
- we cannot bring in the consummation ourselves
- Scripture does not answer all questions
new identity:
"little flock" (Lk 12:32); be salt and
light (speak and act in protest?)
- there will be occasions when they must break the
law (seek the direction of the Holy Spirit, the
counsel and prayer of believers in Jesus)
new belonging:
citizens of God's kingdom
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