The class was taught by Fuller’s President, Richard Mouw. His presence was part of the reason I chose the class, I wanted to know more about this sometimes controversial figure, he did not disappoint. He told a lot of stories, so much so that I’m not sure if his stories were the best or the worst part of the class. One of the most important things I realized was that Christ or Christianity is never realized apart from culture, which is important because some of us like to talk about “pure Christianity”, or the “essence of the gospel”. But in fact, every theologian who has ever tried to hypothesize such a thing, themselves lives in a particular culture, with issues particular to that day that color their “pure” analysis.
We began the class by studying Niebuhr’s book Christ and Culture, in which he identifies five perspectives, or relationships, that Christ can have with culture. They are:
Christ Against Culture
Christ in Culture
Christ in Paradox with Culture
Christ Above Culture
Christ Transforming Culture
Within this perspective I argued that all of these can be valid, depending on the subject, because Christ is "above" culture. For instance, prostitution must be stood "against", nature shows us "Christ in", war can show us some "paradoxes", and we want all of humankind to be "transformed" , but all of this is possible because Christ is "above".
There are certainly other paradigms in which to consider Christ’s relationship to culture, but these are the ones we studied, a paradigm which was heavily influenced by the Modern world view. I got so tired of this modern world view that I decided for my final paper, to critique the ways in which Niebuhr was influenced by modernity. The first section of that paper was posted on the 6th of June and entitled Christ and Culture.
The latter half of the class focused on culture, what it is, what it’s not, and how it influences us. We used Abraham Kuyper, a man with a long list of accomplishments, as a model from which to work. (google “Kuyper”, he is very interesting)
Some of the other topics covered: generous orthodoxy, common grace, sphere sovereignty, multiculturalism.