A many sided debate about the relations of Christianity and civilization is being carried on in our time
The Enduring Problem Sometimes the debate is concentrated on special issues – Place of Christian Faith in Public School – Place of Christian Ethics in Economic Life
The Enduring Problem Sometimes the debate deals with broad questions of the church’s responsibility for social order or of the need for a new separation of Christ’s followers from the world
The Enduring Problem The repeated struggles of Christians with this problem have yielded no single Christian answer, but only a series of answers which stretch over church history
The Enduring Problem The enduring problem began at the incarnation of Jesus who “was a Jew and remained a Jew till his last breath.” – Klauser, Jesus of Nazareth Jesus was a product of His Culture
The Enduring Problem Judaism is not only a religion or a set of ethics, but the sum total of the nation or culture Jesus came and thrust aside all the requirements of national life
The Enduring Problem The historical and social situations in which rejections of Jesus Christ have taken place have been various: – Christians are animated by a contempt for present existence and a confidence in immortality – Christianity seems to threaten culture because it prophesies that human achievement is inconsequential
The Enduring Problem – Christ and His Church are intolerant – Christ and His Church are foes of culture – The forgiveness of Christ is said to be irreconcilable with the demands of justice or human free will
The Enduring Problem The Apostle Paul struggled with both Judaizers and Hellenizers of the gospel as they sought to transform the Christian faith into what they desired
Galatians 2.12 “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”
2 Corinthians 6:15-16 “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God;”
The Enduring Problem It is not the existence of Christ and culture that present the problem, but the relationship of Christ and culture When Christianity deals with the question of reason and revelation, what is ultimately in question is the relation of the revelation in Christ to the reason which prevails in culture
The Enduring Problem Define the term “Christ” – How would a Mormon define Christ? – How would a Buddhist define Christ? – How would a Muslim define Christ? – How would an atheist define Christ? – How would an agnostic define Christ? – How would a Catholic define Christ? – How would a Baptist define Christ?
When we undertake a definition of the essence of Jesus Christ, we enter into the continuous debate of the Christian community – It is impossible to adequately define Jesus – It is impossible not to define Jesus from our perspective, history and culture
The Enduring Problem When we define Jesus and Christ we must understand that any one of virtues of Jesus may be taken as a key to understand his character and teaching However, each key is intelligible unless is in relation to God – in other words, understanding in Jesus is found in belief in God
The Enduring Problem What is culture? What are the chief characteristics of culture?
Characteristics of Culture It is always social It is human achievement It is a world of values impacting good for humanity It is a temporal and material realization of values It is the conservation of values It is pluralistic
The Enduring Problem How has Christianity answered this reality of Christ and Culture?
Answers to Christ and Culture The first answer emphasizes the opposition between Christ and Culture (Christ against Culture)
Answers to Christ and Culture The second recognizes a fundamental agreement between Christ and culture (The Christ of Culture)
Answers to Christ and Culture The third understands Christ’s relation to culture like the second: he is the fulfillment of cultural aspirations and the restorer of the institutions of true society (Christ above Culture)
Answers to Christ and Culture The fourth understands that there is a duality and inescapable authority of both Christ and culture, but the opposition between them is also accepted (Christ and Culture in Paradox)
Answers to Christ and Culture The fifth type proposes a conversionist solution (Christ the Transformer of Culture) – Tension does not lead to separation – Tension does not lead to endurance – Tension leads to conversion