I don’t know what you think is the best book on Christ and Culture, but I’d be interested in hearing. We are looking at John Stackhouse, Making the Best of It , and we turn to his first resource for how he builds his own version of Christian realism. He starts with CS Lewis.
By the way, there are some new books on this topic, including DA Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisited, which just arrived on my desk. Any response to that book or any others you think should be mentioned?
Now, to Lewis.
He begins with what I might call the building blocks of how CS Lewis approached Christ and culture questions. He begins with the Christian Story: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Along the way, Stackhouse inserts some salty quotations from Lewis, including these you might want to respond to:
“Lewis has relatively little to say about church life or about society as a whole” (55).
“To me, religion ought to have been a matter of good men praying alone, and meeting by twos and threes to talk of spiritual matters” (55). [Stackhouse didn’t think Lewis changed his mind on this after his conversion.]
“Yes this individualism is not self-absorption” (56).
Then he tackles the themes one finds in Lewis: sanctification of self — and society?, conversion … as chief mission and yet scholarship as worthy occupation, work and domesticity, hope and vocation, history and imagination, enjoying the world and its maker…
Lewis’ concern “was not to subvert public institutions nor to convert them to their final messianic state, but to revert them back to their traditional sources and purposes in God’s providence” (60).
Here’s one: “The real reason for democracy is that we are so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows” (61). [What part does the Fall play in your “Christ and culture” view?]
He observes how much time Lewis took up with Mrs Moore and household duties. Lewis didn’t live in a library.
He liked friendship, beer and food, conversation, and encounter with nature (66). He thought these things were intrinsically good. He did not simply see these things as iconic — pointing to God.
He thought his devotion to literature was a perfectly good calling. His conversion did not call him out of culture and into the church ministry, but to work at the complex relation of Christian beliefs, values, and norms to the culture (68).
Stackhouse works through Lewis, Niebuhr and Bonhoeffer before he builds his case. So … that’s where we are.