Sunday, July 5, 2009

Christ & Culture Revisited: Overall Conclusions, Part 1

Carson begins his final chapter with his summary of the previous five chapters, summarizing that there is not fixed paradigm that is universally transferable, but our discussions of church and state must take into consideration the key turning points in biblical theology (these have been written previously). Then Carson goes through some more recent paradigms that he calls “Disputed Agendas and Frustrated Utopias.”

Fundamentalism is culturally reactive – even winning some battles in the culture war. This is not a theocracy, but more of a 1950s America. He argues that fundamentalists should not argue that America was based on Christian principles. Rather, it is based on some Christian principles. We wouldn’t want to return to slavery, Carson contends. Hard to argue with that. While this paradigm has social ills that it is particularly passionate about, it neglects others.

Luther & His Heirs
This is the Two Kingdoms view, but Lutherans disagree on how this actually plays out. This view has its strengths, but it can also forget that Christ is Lord over all and that there can be a polarized view of knowledge – a distinction between human reason and divine revelation. Such a sharp distinction can result in letting the government do whatever they want – like Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Beyond politics, to draw too sharp a distinction makes “reason” king and doesn’t allow God to speak into His world via special revelation.

Abraham Kuyper
Kuyper had unparalleled success in articulating a view of church and state and actually implementing it well. He argued that all truth is God’s truth and all of creation is God’s, but the consummation is not yet and so there a tension because the recognition that God is Lord of all is not realized, but Christians are called to speak Christ’s lordship into every area of life. He founded Christian unions and universities, not for the purpose of withdrawing, but to speak into the world. Carson thinks Kuyper shifted to a more liberal position once in power – emphasizing common grace over redeeming grace. Also, once he departed leadership there was a massive decline in Christian influence and the church had become full of the unregenerate members due to “presumptive regeneration.” Finally, this Kuyperian paradigm is helpful when you have the piety of a Kuyper, but it fails when it is not wed to personal piety.

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