Christ and culture by Richard Niebuhr

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Christand culture by Richard Niebuhr

ProfessorRichard Niebuhr wrotea documentary Christ andculturein theyear1951. Thedocumentary is amongthemostinfluentialChristian booksthat werewrittenin thepastcentury.Hedescribedfive modelsthat clearlydescribetheinteractionbetween Christianity andculture.Thebook’sprimaryargumentis thatChrist is sinlessorperfect.Itis clearthatpeopleare imperfectandculture,therefore,beingman-made,should not relatewith Christianity in anyway.However,among thefive modelsnamelyChrist above culture,Christ against theculture,Christ of theculture,Christ transformscultureandChrist andcultureparadoxsomeseemveryharsh,therefore,fixingthenon-religious. Others, however,seemto compromiseas thedocumentdiscusses (Niebuhr 7).Discussion

Itis clearthatamong thefive models,Christ against cultureis themostfixingmodelto a non-religious model.In termsof Christian ethics,Niebuhr terms thismodelas thenewlaw.From thisChristianity perspective,theworldis viewedas terriblycorruptedby sin.Thisviewhencefixesthenon-religious since theyareviewedas hopelessandcorrupt.Theyalsoseemunacceptable before God thecreatorof everything. Theauthorcontinuedto arguethattheGod’s kingdomcamesupersede culture.Theauthornotedthatin theMessianic kingdomwhich advocateschurch’spurity,thenon-religious whoin thiscaseare in thecultureareimpure(Niebuhr23).

Godthrough HiswordcalledforChristians to comeout from thenon-religious andbeseparated.Thebiblein thebookof 2 Corinthians 6:17a tellsChristians to be outfrom themsothatbecomeseparated.Similarly,thebookof 2 John 2:15-17 encouragestheChristians to neitherto lovetheworldnoritsthings.Itcontinuesto explainthatanyone whowill loveworldlythingsGod’s loveis not with himorherat all.Thesescripturesdescribeeverything that is worldlybeingevilandunacceptable (Niebuhr 45).

Fromthisperspective,one can understandthatpeoplewhoare in thecultureare not lovedby God at all.Thisfixesthemin an awkwardsituationsince itis evidentthathumanbeingscannot dowithout God’s loveorhelp.Humanbeings’survivalis solelydependenton God. Similarly,themodelalsotendsto fixthenon-religious becauseof itsuncompromisingperspectivetowards culture.Themodeltendsto affirmtheChrist’s soleauthorityover cultureanddeterminedly rejectstheclaimsto loyaltythattheculturetendsto offer.Thetruefixingof theunreligious comesas a resultof theclearlineof separationthatthismodeladvocatesbetween thebrotherhoodof theworldandGod’s children.Theloyaltyto Christianity callsfora totalrejectionof theculturalsociety(Niebuhr89).

FromthisNiebuhr’s model,sinliessolelyin cultureandChristians escapesitby avoidingculture.Thisideafacedagreatcriticismfrom scholararguingthattheseparationof Christianity andtheworldis not possible.TheyalsonotedthatNiebuhr’s argumentfailedto recognizetheroleof Jesus andspiriton creation.Theculture’srejectionaccordingto thescholarscan, therefore,beviewedas a suspicionof nature’sGod andnature.It,therefore,triesto dividetheglobeinto thematerialrealmthat isgovernedby theprinciplethatis unacceptable by Christ andthespiritualrealmthat is under thegovernance of spiritualGod. Thisargumenttriesto showthatthepeoplein thecultureare doingwhatis rightin referenceto God’s natureandthereforetheirrejectionby Christians is not justifiable.In otherwords,theyfindthemin a fixof rejectionfornoreason(Niebuhr103).

TheNiebuhr’s argumentsclearlyindicatehowthepeoplein thecultureare sinfulandunlovedby God. Thisperspectivefixesthemto a stateof rejectionby theirbrothersin Christianity. Thisis becauseaccordingto scriptures,anything that is worldlyis not goodandshould be avoidedincludingindividualswhoare practicingthem.Theiractivitiesarealsoputin a situationwheretheyare proneto be rejectedby Christians since theyreveala senseof imperfection.Niebuhr notedthatanything that is man-madeis not pureandshould not bemixedwith Godly things.Theculturalsocietyis, therefore,fixedto a situationwhereforthemto beviewedas puretheyhaveto abandontheculturalaspectsanduphold Christianity (Niebuhr 124).Conclusion

Niebuhrconcludedby makingan argumentthatpeopleneedto be consciousof culturally orrelativism accustomed by thenatureof people’sactions.Henotedthatpeoplehaveincomplete,partialandfragmentaryknowledge.Peopleneedto possessa measuredopinionabout theirabilitythatshould beinvolvedin theLord’s culture.Peopleare limitedby theirphilosophicalunderstandingandtechnicalknowledgeandthereforepeople’sdecisionsin thiscomplexglobetendto be coloredby people’slimitations.Accordingto thedocumentary author,cultureis not Godly since itis man-madehenceworldlybased. There is, therefore,an urge of peoplereevaluating theirstandin thiswholeissuesothattheycan liverightwith God.

Workscited

Niebuhr,H R. Christand Culture.New York: Harper &amp Row, 1975. Print.

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