The Christ and Culture has been ongoing for quite some time now. How should Christians respond to culture? Avoid it like the plague? Hop on board with it? Make some exceptions? Start a new culture?
I recently read an excerpt on Andy Crouch’s book, Culture Making. It makes me want to read the rest of the book. He identifies four main views when it comes to the Christ and Culture argument. They are as follows with short explanations for each:
- Condemning Culture – Not only an avoidance of culture, but also a vehemence and disdain against it
- Critiquing Culture – Some things in culture are alright, such as the fine arts, but by and large, the emphasis is on evaluating what is good or not so good about the culture we live in
- Consuming Culture – The many things that culture has to offer us are good; thus, the only appropriate response to is consume them
- Copying Culture – Borrowing the mainstream forms and then making a ‘Christian’ version of it
For Crouch, all of these four have their place. The problem stems from our utilization of them. There seems to be a time for each of these four responses, BUT there does not seem to be a one-size fits all – i.e., the consuming culture approach is fine when we need to buy stuff to survive, but not when our sole pursuit is to accumulate a yacht, three BMW’s, a summer house, a winter house, a lake cabin, and a downtown loft. Crouch uses the metaphors of postures and gestures. Postures are ‘the positions are body assumes when we aren’t paying attention, the basic attitude we carry through life.’ On the other hand, gestures seem to be more fluid, adapting to the changes around us. We may hold a posture, but from there, we must be willing to use different gestures. When it comes to Christ and Culture, we have postures but we must be willing to move away from that posture at times.
Crouch goes on to put forth two alternative metaphors – artists and gardeners. Why an artist or a gardener? They contemplate matters first, their work is purposeful (they bring both “creativity and effort”) and as Crouch poetically puts it, “They are creaturely creators, tending and shaping the world that the original Creator made.
I hope both of these metaphors provoke thinking in regards to Christ and Culture. And I am interested in reading the rest of Crouch’s book.