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Presentation on theme: "CROSS CULTURAL MINISTRY CM 3303 CHRIST AND CULTURE."— Presentation transcript:


2 Christ Above Culture


4 When we begin with the distinction between black and white, most of the shades we are asked to identify will be grays When we start our analysis of Christian communities with the church-sect division, most of them will seem to be hybrids

5 Christ Above Culture The great majority movement in Christianity has refused to take either the position of the anti-cultural radicals or that of the accommodator of Christ to culture

6 Christ Above Culture With this view, Christ and the world cannot be simply opposed to each other The “world” cannot be regarded as the realm of godlessness Man is obligated in the nature of his being to be obedient to God and this obedience must be rendered in the natural and cultural life

7 Christ Above Culture The Christians of the center are convinced that men cannot find in themselves a holiness which can be possessed These believers who reject both of the extreme positions also hold in common a conviction about grace and law that distinguishes them from legalists of any sort

8 Christ Above Culture The Christians of the center do not constitute one ordered group in their attack on the Christ-Culture problem

9 Christ Above Culture There at least three distinguishable families among these Christians of the center: – Synthesists (Christ Above Culture) – Dualists (Christ and Culture in Paradox) – Conversionists (Christ the Transformer of Culture)

10 Christ Above Culture The synthesist affirms both Christ and culture, as one who confesses a Lord who is both of this world and of the other There is a gap between Christ and Culture that accommodation Christianity never takes seriously enough and that radicalism does not try to overcome

11 Christ Above Culture The distinction of the synthesist arises as he analyzes the nature of the duality in Christian life, and combines in a single structure of thought and conduct the distinctly different elements

12 Christ Above Culture The New Testament contains no document that clearly expresses the synthetic view; but there are many statements in the gospels and epistles which contain the solution of the Christ-and-Culture problem

13 Christ Above Culture Clement of Alexandria is the first great representative of this type This stance is found in his treatises, “Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved,” “Instructor” and “The Miscellanies.”

14 Christ Above Culture A Christian, in Clement’s view, must then first of all be a good man in accordance with the standard of good culture Sobriety in personal conduct is to be accompanied by honesty in economic dealings, and by obedience to political authority This, however, is not the whole of the Christian life

15 Christ Above Culture Clement’s Christ is not against culture, but uses its best products as instruments in his work of bestowing on men what they cannot achieve by their own efforts

16 Christ Above Culture This synthesis of the New Testament and the demands of life in the world is carried out by Clement not only with regard to ethics but also in connection with philosophy and faith

17 Christ Above Culture He neither seeks to reinterpret the figure of Jesus so as to make him wholly compatible with the speculative systems of the day, nor does he rejects as worldly wisdom the philosophy of the Greeks

18 Christ Above Culture “God admonishes us to use, but not to linger and spend time, with secular culture. For what was bestowed on each generation advantageously, and at seasonable time, is a preliminary training for the word of the Lord.”

19 Christ Above Culture Clement’s attempt to combine appreciation of culture with loyalty to Christ was to combine appreciation culture with loyalty to Christ was made at a time when the church was still outlawed

20 Christ Above Culture It represents more of a sense of responsibility in the church for the maintenance of sound morals and learning than the feeling of obligation for the continuance and improvement of the great social institutions

21 Christ Above Culture Thomas Aquinas represents a Christianity that has achieved or accepted full social responsibility for all the great institutions

22 Christ Above Culture Many non-Roman Catholics abandon Ritschlian answers for Thomism without being tempted to transfer his allegiance to the Roman church

23 Christ Above Culture Thomas answers the question about Christ and culture with a “both-and”; yet his Christ is far above culture, and he does not try to disguise the gulf that lies between them

24 Christ Above Culture The pristine example of Thomistic synthesis is found in Medieval European/Roman Catholic society

25 Christ Above Culture This synthesis is unlikely to be achieved in modern society due to the lack of two prerequisites: – The presence of widespread and profoundly serious radical Christians – A cultural church great enough to accept and maintain in union with itself this loyal opposition

26 Christ Above Culture In his system of thought he combined without confusing philosophy and theology, state and church, civic and Christian virtues, natural and divine laws, Christ and culture

27 Christ Above Culture Out of these various elements he built a great structure of theoretical and practical wisdom, which like a cathedral was solidly planted among the streets and market-places, the houses, palaces, and universities that represent human culture

28 Christ Above Culture Thomas is certain that the purpose implicit in our existence is to realize our potentialities completely, as intellects in the presence of universal truth and wills in the presence of universal good

29 Christ Above Culture “Nothing can set the will of man at rest but universal good, which is not found in anything created, but in God alone. Hence God alone can fill the heart of man.”

30 Christ Above Culture Thomas has enthroned monastic life, not as a protest against the corruptible world, but as an effort to rise above the sensible and temporal world to contemplation of unchanging reality

31 Christ Above Culture The church is a double organization – the religious institution in the world and the monastic order

32 Theological Problems The attractiveness of the synthesist type of answer to the Christ-and-culture problem is doubtless felt by all Christians All Christians find themselves in agreement with the synthesists affirmation of the importance of civil virtues and of just social institutions

33 Theological Problems The synthesist alone seems to provide for willing and intelligent cooperation of Christians with nonbelievers in carrying on the work of the world, while yet maintaining the distinctiveness of Christian faith and life

34 Theological Problems The problem is that the effort to bring Christ and culture, God’s work and man’s, the temporal and the eternal, law and grace, into one system of thought and practice tends to the absolutizing of what is relative, the reduction of the infinite to a finite form, and the materialization of the dynamic

35 Theological Problems No synthesist answer so far given in Christian history has avoided the equation of a cultural view of God’s law in cration with that law itself

36 Theological Problems The hierarchical view of natural order in Thomas Aquinas is historical and medieval The effort to synthesize leads to the institutionalism of Christ and the gospel

37 Theological Problems Integrity and peace are the eternal hope and goal of the Christian, and that the temporal embodiment of this unity in a man-devised form represents a usurpation in which time seeks to exercise the power of eternity and man the power of God

38 Theological Problems The effort to combine culture with Christ has involved a tendency to distinguish grades of Christian perfection

39 Theological Problems The major objection is that the synthesist does not in fact face up to the radical evil present in all human work


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