Resources On Christ And Culture

Apart from getting the gospel right and getting the gospel out, there is perhaps no problem more pressing upon the church than that of how to relate Christ to culture. H. Richard Niebuhr identified three approaches: Christ against culture (e.g., Tertullian), Christ of culture (e.g., Gnostics), and Christ above culture (e.g., Justin Martyr). This taxonomy has been justly criticized as simplistic and I find his historical analysis lacking but it gives us a starting point. To it we might add Christ transforming culture (e.g., Abraham Kuyper). We should also add Christ distinct from culture, since the underlying question is really that of how to relate nature and grace: 1) Grace perfects nature per se (e.g., Thomas); 2) Grace obliterates nature (e.g., The Anabaptists); 3) Grace renews fallen human nature in salvation. I argue that culture is a correlate to nature, which is an expression of creation. Niebuhr’s taxonomy fails because it misses e.g., what Tertullian and Justin were doing. It misses alternatives, e.g., the Epistle to Diognetus (c. AD 150), which was contemporaneous to Justin and shares some characteristics of Tertullian’s critique of paganism but did not adopt his rigorism. The older Reformed consensus was right in principle. Under the influence of transformationalism, we have lost the older distinction between nature and grace, that these are two distinct spheres in God’s providence. Nature does not need to be transformed (Kuyperianism) or obliterated (Anabaptists and most American evangelicals). Creation is good and therefore it does not need to be perfected (contra Thomas) but, contra the Protestant Liberals, it is broken. Christ may not be identified with culture. The Anabaptists and the transformationalists want grace either to transform or wipe out nature now. It will be transformed (not obliterated) in the eschaton, but we are not there yet. Below is a collection of essays, quotations, and audio resources to help you think through the question of how to relate grace to nature and Christ to culture.

Essay and Quotations

  1. The Crisis Of The Hour: Christ And Culture
  2. The New York Times, Sioux Center, And Calvinism
  3. QAnon, Evangelical Gnosticsm, Manichaeism, And The Kingdom Of The Cults
  4. Why Not Stick To History? Short Answer: The Twofold Kingdom (Duplex Regimen)
  5. Doubts About Political Theology And The Church As A Lever Of Cultural Influence
  6. Douthat: America Needs St Paul More Than St Benedict Or Constantine
  7. Is It Sin To Vote For Trump Or How Understanding The Twofold Government Helps
  8. Must We Change Our Theology to Vote for Mitt?
  9. Problems with the Presidential Prayer Breakfast
  10. The Rule Of Worship, Christ And Culture, And Asparagus Fest
  11. Presbyterians And Homosexuals Together: The Crisis Of Christ And Culture
  12. Re-Thinking Christ and Culture
  13. Two on Christ and Culture
  14. Of Church Names, Christ, And Culture
  15. Heidelcast 40: Christ, Culture, And Confession
  16. Kim Riddlebarger On Christ, Culture, and 2K: In The Land Of Nod
  17. Beyond Niebuhr on Christ and Culture
  18. The Epistle of “Mathetes” to Diognetus
  19. The Myth of “Christian America”
  20. Of Hotels and 2 Kingdoms
  21. Heidelcast 144: Calls On Confessions, Covid-19, Chick-Fil-A, Christ and Culture, And More
  22. Engaging The Culture: Beating The Secularists At Their Own Game?
  23. Redeeming Culture?
  24. World and Life View: License to Baptize?
  25. Doctrinal Precision: Too Great A Price For The Worldview?
  26. Of Worldviews And Christian Liberty
  27. Between Pearls And Privatization
  28. The Reformation Of Vocation
  29. Of Christian Plumbers, Unions, Meat Offered To Idols, And Tent-Making
  30. There Is A Christian Worldview
  31. We Are Not Polishing Brass On A Sinking Ship
  32. Pies, Docs, Kuyps, And Confessionalists
  33. “Common” is Not “Neutral”
  34. Common is Not Neutral and Secular is Not Dirty
  35. Engaging The Culture: Beating The Secularists At Their Own Game?
  36. What Christians Can Learn From Drew Carey About Subverting Culture
  37. Trueman On The Failure Of The Evangelical Elite To Understand The Cultured Despisers Of Religion Are Despisers Of Religion
  38. Bob Godfrey On “What’s Going on Right Now: Sex, Race, Politics & Power” (1)
  39. Bob Godfrey On “What’s Going on Right Now: Sex, Race, Politics & Power” (2)
  40. A New Religion With A New Sacrament?
  41. Sub-Christian Nationalism? (Part 1)
  42. Sub-Christian Nationalism? (Part 2)
  43. Samuel Would Like A Word With Americans Hankering For A King
  44. The CRC Is Right About Kinism (Part One)
  45. The CRC Is Right About Kinism (Part Two)
  46. “Cases Extraordinary,” The Spirituality Of The Church, And The Trans Crisis
  47. Walking Two Miles With Roman Oppressors: Christ’s Pilgrim Ethic (1)
  48. Walking Two Miles With Roman Oppressors: Christ’s Pilgrim Ethic (2)
  49. What Can We Do With Natural Law?
  50. Oklahoma Governor Claims State For Christ. Controversy Ensues
  51. “Yeah But We Are The Government”
  52. Reformation Day 2022: The Antidote For A Fearful People
  53. Never Lose Its Power

Podcasts and Conference Audio

  1. Heidelcast 151: Christ, Culture, And Covid-19
  2. Office Hours: With David VanDrunen On Politics After Christendom: Political Theology In A Fractured World
  3. Conference Audio: Christ, Kingdom, and Culture
  4. Heidelcast 144: Calls On Confessions, Covid-19, Chick-Fil-A, Christ and Culture, And More
  5. Office Hours: Godfrey and VanDrunen on Christ, Kingdom and Culture
  6. Video: With Chris Gordon On Christ And Culture And Ministry In An Anti-Christian Age
  7. Video: With Chris Gordon On Christ, Culture, Theocracy, And More
  8. Christian Nationalism Might Be Cosplay: The Babylon Bee Interview

Bibliographic Leads

  • Christ and Culture Reading List (Updated)
  • Carson, D. A. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub, 2008.
  • Carter, Craig A. Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2006.
  • Hart, D. G. A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State. Chicago: I.R. Dee, 2006.
  • Hart, D. G. From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub, 2011.
  • Hart, D. G. The Lost Soul of American Protestantism. American Intellectual Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
  • Hart, D. G. The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education. Religious Studies in American Higher Education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
  • Henry, Carl F. H, D. A Carson, and John D Woodbridge. God and Culture: Essays in Honor of Carl F.h. Henry. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1993.
  • Nichols, Stephen J. Jesus Made in America : A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2008.
  • Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. 1St Harper torchbooked. Harper Torchbooks. the Cloister Library, Tb3. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956.
  • Trueman, Carl R,  The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020.
  • Van Til, Cornelius. Common Grace and Witness-Bearing. Christ and Culture Collection. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Published by L.J. Grotenhuis, 1955.

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