In chapter six, Richard notes the problems facing the church. This is the question on how Christians should involve and associate to culture. Richard refers to the culture as social life of humanity, the surrounding made by humans in aspects such as habit, customs, language, technical processes, social organization and values (32). He came up with three main positions that Christians took in reference to culture. They were termed as opposition to culture, agreement between Christ and culture, and an insight that combines both opposition and agreement between Christ and culture.
Christ and Culture
In this view of Christ and culture, Richard recognizes that there is conflict between God and human that is always present and the conflict represent Christ as well as culture. Richard notes that grace exists in God, while sin exists in man (151). With the existence of law and refinement, Godly wrath as well as his compassion, the relationship between Christians and culture experiences some tension being that Christians are in between two extremes. But this gives a glimpse of light where Christians can obtain their hope being that grace is with the lord. Richard indicates that Paul the apostle backed this view in the earlier days and later supported by Martin Luther as well as Soren Kierkegaard.
Christ the Transformer of Culture
Richard talks neutrally about Christ in relation to culture. He acknowledges the culture of human to be initially good but was later corrupted by the sinful nature of human. He further recommends this chapter as a hopeful view towards culture (Richard 191). This is because there is a belief that human culture can be transformed to glorify God by Gods grace (Richard 196). Richard further indicates that all aspects of culture are subjected to judgment by God and yet culture is also under the sovereign rule of God. Thus he proceeds to note that Christians must do cultural duty in a way that obeys the Lord (191).The implication of this is that, people work within culture to make it better being that God had some influence in human creativity and it was better and still can be. People also work in culture to transform it because when there is blasphemy in culture, all is not lost being that there is cultural redemption through Christ. Richard also indicates that sin would only be defeated not by running away from it, but by focusing our eyes on Jesus and mostly making our desires positive and oriented in the way God wants us to be. This is on the basis that Christ is the redeemer of all and therefore Christians should strive harder to transform their culture to be in the glory of God. Richard indicated that apostle Paul was a supporter of this view.
In conclusion, it is basic that all our answers in relation to Christianity and culture must come from the scripture. This is not to obtain a list of wrong and right, but to obtain an open understanding of the Lord and his plans to us. We should cover ourselves under the power of his spirit so as to train our conscience and mind and advance our judgment as we develop in our duty of representing God in our culture where he positioned us.
Richard, Niebuhr. Christ and culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951.
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