Monday, March 28, 2005

Christ vs. Culture

So for my Christianity and Culture class we are reading a book that explains different views on the subject of Christianity and/or/both/with culture. The chapter I have to present is on what they call a dualistic approach (not the same as Dualism, just a term they are using for this idea). Some of it is ringing within me and makes me smile that I would get this chapter rather than ones on gnostics, synthesists or others. God is continually showing me more of what I believe in concrete ways, putting words to feelings, etc. Here are some things I have read:

" The conflict is between God and man, or better, between God and us: the issue lies between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of self. "

On Culture:
"He knows that he belongs to that culture and cannot get out of it, that God indeed sustans him in it and by it; for if God in His grace did not sustain the world in its sin it would not exist for a moment"
Pauls ideas: " As far as this world was concerned it was their task to work out their salvation, and their gift to live in the spirit of Christ in whatever community or station in life they had been apprehended by the Lord."

As Christians in Culture:
"As Christians we want to be the forgivers of sins, the lovers of men, new incarnations of Christ, saviors rather than saved; secure in our own possession of the true religion, rather than dependent on a Lord who possesses us, chooses us, forgives us. If we do not try to have God under our control, then at least we try to gve ourselves the assurance that we are on His side facing the rest of the world; not with the world facing Him in infinite dependence, with no security save Him."

"He is standing on the side of man in the encounter with God, yet seeks to interpret the Word of God which he has heard coming from the other side. In this tension he must speak of revelation and reason, of law and grace, of the Creator and Redeemer. Not only his speech is paradoxical under these circumstances, but his conduct also.

He is under law, and yet not under law but grace; he is sinner, and yet righteous; he believes, as a doubter; he has assurance of salvation, yet walks along the knife-edge of insecurity. In Christ all things have become new, and yet everything remains as it was from the beginning. God has revealed Himself in Christ, but hidden Himself in His revelation; the believer knows the One in whom he as believed, yet walks by faith not sight."

I don't know.. this is a lot and kind of all out of context for y'all, but they were just some ideas that stuck out to me... I think the tension the author speaks about is real and needed for Christians to appreciate the gift of Grace they have been given, but also the sturdy Rock they stand on. We need to be confident that we are dependent on someone else, but confident that that that someone else is completely and utterly faithful in return. Our faith is only a reflection of His unending faithfulness.

This is really the only part of the book I have enjoyed, although some of the other viewpoints are kind of interesting. If you want to read it:
Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr.

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