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Christianity and culture. Ministry, Church and Society Southern Nazarene University. How do Christians view and interact with the larger culture surrounding them? In what ways do Christians allow the larger culture to shape and define them?. Two books. Richard Niebuhr.

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Christianity and culture

Ministry, Church and Society Southern Nazarene University


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Two books surrounding them?


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Richard Niebuhr surrounding them?

  • Pastor in Evangelical and Reformed Church (St. Louis)

  • Yale seminary professor when he published Christ and Culture (1951)


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Niebuhr’s 5 classic positions surrounding them?

  • 1. Christ against culture

    • Following Christ means rejecting any loyalty to culture

    • Disengagement from the world because of the world’s rebellion against God

    • A “holy huddle” of Christians who do not dialog with anyone else


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Niebuhr’s classic positions surrounding them?

  • 2. Christ of culture

    • Christianity and culture become fused regardless of their differences

    • Affirming both Christ and culture and denying any necessary opposition between the two.


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  • 3. Christ above culture surrounding them?

    • An attempt at a synthesis of the two

    • The issues of culture find an answer in Christian revelation

    • The church perceives that her role is fundamental if there is to be any cultural achievement


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  • 4. Christ and culture in paradox surrounding them?

    • A tension between the church and the world around it, even as they interpenetrate one another

    • Each Christian is a subject of two realms--two "kingdoms," but one king, Christ.


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Charles Kraft surrounding them?

  • Missionary anthropologist

  • “Christianity in Culture,” 30 years after Niebuhr

  • Sees 3 groupings of positions

    • God against culture

    • God in culture

    • God above culture


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Charles Kraft’s listing surrounding them?

  • God against culture

    • Commitment to God is a decision to oppose culture

    • Assumes all of culture is evil

      • Speaking in tongues


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  • Two God-in-culture positions surrounding them?

    • God or Christ is merely culture hero (position of many anthropologists)

    • God is contained within, or at least endorses, one particular culture (Example: Hebrews)


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  • Five God-above-culture positions surrounding them?

    • God is above culture and unconcerned about human beings

      • Deism, African religions

      • Ignore God while holding tightly to some of Jesus’ teachings

    • Christians follow requirements of both Christ and culture, but each in its own place (Thomas Aquinas)


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  • God-above-culture positions surrounding them?

    • Dualism in which Christian is like an amphibian

    • Conversionist (Augustine, Calvin)

      • Culture is corrupted but usable and even redeemable

    • Christ above-but-through-culture

      Summary web page


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