Christ and Culture in the Paradox


In the chapter titled “Christand Culture in Paradox”, Niebuhr sees the world as still not leftor abandoned by God despite its being radically corrupt. Order ispreserved in the midst of chaos via social structures. Indeed, theperspective that Christians are sinners who have been justified bygrace and existing in a world incorporating necessary evils resultsin a private personal, private Christian morality that has littlepublic influence intention. This perspective acknowledges the dualitypertaining to Christ and culture where the two are viewed asincorporating inescapable authority although they oppose each other(Niebuhr, 1975).Niebuhr underlines the notion that paradoxical dualism comes as theonly refuge for worldly-minded individuals who desire to make minuteobeisance in Christ’s direction or even for pious spiritualists whoopine that they owe a certain proportion of reverence to culture.Individuals who support this perspective underline the notion thatChristians would be incapable in this life of escaping the tensionsexisting between culture and Christ. They hold the belief that bothsynthesists and cultural Christians accommodate claims of Christ toindividuals in the secular society, thereby agreeing withanti-cultural Christians. Nevertheless, they disagree with them inregard to the need for obeying God via obeying societal institutions,as well as obeying Christ who is the judge of the same institutions(Niebuhr, 1975).This means that dualists opine that human beings are subject to twoseparate realities, where a sinful and precarious life remainsinescapable and justifiable with regard to individuals’extra-historical justification in Christ.

However, this paradoxicaldualist view struggles to offer an explanation for one fundamentalissue, which us the irresolvable and profound conflict betweenhumanity and God. Dualists comprehend this conflict, sin and gracefrom the reconciliation perspective. Dualists acknowledge theirinability to run away from culture while also acknowledging that thesame culture and the humanity subscribing to it is sustained by God.

However, as much as individualswho subscribe to the dualist perspective want to combineresponsibility for culture and loyalty to Christ, they also underlinethe notion that the cooperation is not necessarily a happy union orbalance as individuals who believe that Christ is above culture wouldthink. Indeed, they underline the severe paradox in which a conflictexists between culture and Christ as a result of sin in culture.However, the believer is required to live a life of obedience to thetwo especially considering that Christ has ordained and exists in theauthorities and ordinances of culture.

Nevertheless, this view seems tobe contrary to the nature of Christ who promised believers that theSpirit of truth would come and guide them in all truth. Further, Paulstated that God is not a God of disorder. This does not undermine howrightly biblical tension is captured for Christians across the globe.This is especially considering that human beings are “underlaw, and yet not under law but grace he is sinner, and yetrighteous” and havereceived “divine wrath and mercy” (Niebuhr 1975). Indeed, thiscomes off as a dynamic process rather than a static acceptance orrejection of culture and the acknowledgement of the fact that themanner in which individuals deal with immense peace and pain. Thereis, however, an element of static position especially with regard tothe fact that Christians do not have a voice as far as culture isconcerned. This results in the acceptance of conservatism and cultureas there is an element of both mercy and wrath. This, essentially,introduces the possibility of human beings acting in favor ofneither.


Niebuhr, H. R. (1975).&nbspChristand culture. New York:Harper &amp Row.