As the title suggests, Christ and Culture Revisited reviews, critiques and expands on H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic work.
As was noted by both Neibhur and Carson, the Scripture speaks of “the world” in many ways, especially the Apostle John. The question in my mind is what in the Biblical concept of “world” equals “culture”. In other words, if Christians are to remain in the world but not be “of the world” (John 17:15-16), and if “culture” is part of the Biblical idea of “the world”, how are believers to faithfully be in something but not of it? How do we parse out the parts of our culture and determine which things need to be confronted, which things can be adopted, and which things can be redeemed? I believe this is a task that can only be done through an appeal and submission to the authority of Scripture, by the guiding and conviction of the Holy Spirit, in community with the people of God. Culture cannot critique culture, therefore a higher authority than culture has to be appealed to. This higher authority is the Word of God recorded in Scripture. Due to the noetic effects of sin however, even though we have the perfect Word of God revealed to us we are still liable to misinterpret and misapply God’s Word when analyzing our relationship to the culture we are in. This is why a Biblical critique of culture must be done in concert with the indwelling Holy Spirit who “guides you into all the truth” (John 16:13) as well as the community of God’s people, both through interacting with the local church as well as the writings of Christ-minded brothers and sisters who have come before us.
Carson’s critique of a classic work has quickly become a classic itself and helps answer some of the questions I laid out above. I recommend it for anyone who wants to think deeply about how Christians should interact with the cultures they minister in so as to communicate the Gospel with clarity.
Christians cannot long think about Christ and culture without reflecting on the fact that this is God’s world , but that this side of the fall this world is simultaneously resplendent with glory and awash in shame , and that every expression of human culture simultaneously discloses that we were made in God’s image and shows itself to be mis – shaped and corroded by human rebellion against God (pp. 49-50).