Monday, March 2, 2009

Christ and Culture: Christ and Culture in PARADOX (dualists), part 2 (Luther, Strengths, & Weaknesses)

Martin Luther is an historical example of this dualist view – and I’m certain he’d be pleased to be on Paul’s team. His perspective is sometimes referred to as the “two kingdoms” view. The idea is that God has an eternal kingdom, but there’s also the sinful world we live in. God desires to change us in the core of our being that we might love God and others from our hearts, not for our own selfish desires. This is where the two kingdoms connect. If we’re to love God and others, it can’t happen by ourselves. It happens as we live and serve in our cultures. These two poles remain distinct, but they need each other. We can’t live out God’s Kingdom without people. Niebuhr also discusses other dualists, including Kierkegaard – yet he doesn’t seem to care much for Kierkegaard’s philosophy (and I don’t care enough to hammer it out, either).

Niebuhr only spends a couple pages talking about the strengths and challenges of this perspective. He notes that this honors the claims Christ puts on us and yet recognizes that the world is profoundly sinful. This dynamic tension is lived out and it serves our culture well as this church seeks to love its neighbor. Its challenges are that it tends to antinomianism and cultural conservatism. There are those who reject the law, but that isn’t the goal of this view. The goal is to live in the culture well by loving their neighbors. In terms of cultural conservatism, if government and rule are to restrain evil, there’s a tendency to not seek to move forward, but only restrain. It seems to be built in from Niebuhr’s mind. He seems to be correct here and it is a challenging conclusion.

I think this is my preferred perspective at this point, but this last critique troubles me.

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