By Duane K. Friesen
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Additional resources for Artists, Citizens, Philosophers: Seeking the Peace of the City : An Anabaptist Theology of Culture
This also means that culture cannot be viewed as a monolithic entity, but rather relates in a discriminating way to the light of Christ. Toward a more fluid and complex definition of culture instead of viewing culture as a monolith distinct from nature. This critique of Niebuhr and Troeltsch requires that we make two points: first, that we define culture in more fluid and complex ways, and second, that we rethink our language about how we see the relationship of culture and nature. Therefore, I need to digress for a few pages to reflect on the meaning of culture.
Troeltsch’s legacy for Christian social ethics is his emphasis on the necessity of embodying ethical thought within institutions if these ideas are going to have a lasting impact upon history. Curiously, H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture departs from this basic Troeltschian insight by focusing again primarily on “thought” as the key to interpreting the relationship of Christ and culture. Troeltsch is known especially for his church/sect, mystic typology of religious association as the interpretive key to the history of Christian social thought.
Niebuhr thus set up the problem such that the only viable options are the remaining three types. These types are better because they seek to relate both poles, Christ and culture. 19 The problem is with definition. How should one begin? Instead of beginning with a definition of “Christ” as an ideal in opposition to culture, I believe we must begin with a definition of an embodied Christology, one that places Christ in the context of his Jewish culture in first-century Palestine. 20 Rather than beginning with a Christ abstracted from his time and place and defined in terms of a religious idea (Troeltsch’s language), as an ideal of agape love (Reinhold Niebuhr’s language), or virtues or excellences (H.
Artists, Citizens, Philosophers: Seeking the Peace of the City : An Anabaptist Theology of Culture by Duane K. Friesen