Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The church and culture

First, read this blog post by Justin Taylor. The gist of it is - the church is meant to be in the world, but shouldn't have any hopes of radically changing it; we "engage" culture, but don't "transform" it.

I could weep. Did someone shove Christ back into his tomb again? Thankfully there are some clarifications in the comments that seem to show Taylor's quotes aren't giving the full picture of the views of at least one of those he quotes from.

What I find puzzling about that kind of analysis is its anachronistic nature. Were our forefathers, who did transform culture in the name of Christ, not meant to do that? Would it have been more Biblical if they'd just handed over the culture to the rebels against Christ's Lordship, and said "actually, this is all yours; sorry for taking it from you and your evil master; we were only meant to 'engage' with you and we've been overstepping."

Then read this by Douglas Wilson, in which he points out that whilst believers can have fellowship in the gospel whilst disagreeing on these issues, yet we can't actually perform our Christ-given mission together effectively whilst in that state.


Anthony Smith said...

I think it's a subtle distinction between what the church does as an institution and what Christians do, often through institutions other than the church. I'm not sure I fully go along with the distinction, but it's something like this: the institution of the church proclaims the word, and then the people in the church take the gospel into society and bring transformation through other institutions (orphanages, schools, charities, political parties). The alternative position is that the institutional church should have its own orphanages, schools, political parties, such that an orphanage (say) would be part of NNN Baptist Church.

David Anderson said...

Hi Anthony.

Yes; it seemed to me that Justin was going further than that though, especially the second quote. "All of them also insist that the priority of the institutional church must be to preach the Word, rather than to “change culture.”" seems to set the two up as a menu to choose only one from. Not sure what the "scare quotes" are there for either.