March 14, 2007

Christians and Culture

One of the questions that has been in the forefront of evangelical Christianity in America over the past century (and more) is how Christians are to engage with culture. Are Christians to be salt and light by being one voice among many working for good? Are Christians the custodians of the good, true, and right, and therefore responsible for maintaining the culture at large? And, to put it simply, how do Christians understand culture. In the last half of the twentieth century, three evangelical giants, Carl F. H. Henry, Francis Schaeffer, and Charles Colson, were leading Christian apologists and thinkers who advocated a view of Western culture that emphasized that it was being erroded, and was falling into what they saw as a dark age. This commentary was meant to spur evangelicals to engagement and action, a good and noble pursuit, but did it have other consequences as well? In an interesting article in the most recent issue of JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society), Professor James Patterson looks at these three apologists and their ideas, and explores what some of the consequences may be. It is worth reading, and provides a good opportunity for reflection of how Christians look at secular culture.

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