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Jesus Creed


Christ and the Dragons 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Dragons.jpgJames Emery White , in his new book ( Christ Among the Dragons: Finding Our Way Through Cultural Challenges), takes on big themes, and the 3d chp is about culture.

The big question is his: What would the world look like if there were no Christians? what is the measurable and real impact of those who follow Jesus? How much are Christians culture-changers and culture-influences?
White examines five major strategies:
Retreat from society and culture
Revive culture via evangelism
Recapture via political influence
Reflect by being like others
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these?
And he proposes the 5th R: Renewal. Which is to renew the culture and the society via faithful living. Prayer, evangelism, example, argument, action, and suffering.
One of the issues that Christians need to face is what they are aiming at when they focus on being influential in culture. White focuses on the three major ones:
Truth
Beauty
Goodness
Big question: Who is doing these things well today?


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phil_style

posted June 28, 2010 at 7:20 am


you ask “Who is doing these things well today?”
Unfortunately the pursuit of “truth” often ends up being so ugly that “beauty” and “goodness” are lost. “Living out truth” translates into doctrine wars too often for me.
That’s my only observation.



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MatthewS

posted June 28, 2010 at 7:47 am


Well, perhaps this isn’t what you have in mind but I think the Brooklyn Tabernacle pursues both beauty and goodness. Beauty in their choir’s musical expressions and goodness in the work they do in the community. I see goodness in various community initiatives undertaken by the likes of Saddleback and Willow Creek. I believe that Willow Creek’s self-critical Reveal study was a courageous effort for truth (though this is probably a different sort of thing than White had in mind, it’s good to model a pursuit of truth even when personally difficult), even though they knew it could result in criticism from both left and right. I am sure there are examples across the spectrum from the left-most emerging church to the most traditional high church but those are some examples that come to mind for me.



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Joan Ball

posted June 28, 2010 at 8:40 am


I am curious, Scott. Does he examine both positive and negative influence on culture or just the ideally lived Christian life when examining: “What would the world look like if there were no Christians? what is the measurable and real impact of those who follow Jesus? How much are Christians culture-changers and culture-influences?”



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dopderbeck

posted June 28, 2010 at 9:21 am


This sounds much like James Davidson Hunter’s “faithful presence” approach. I think this is on the right track. I’m grateful that some conservative evangelicals are beginning to see this sort of balance as a center.



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Robin

posted June 28, 2010 at 9:25 am


I think Doug Wilson and his church are doing them well in their own way. I’d also nominate Tim Keller and Scotty Smith, and after some consideration John Piper. All 4 have truth and goodness down pat. Beauty might be an issue with Wilson and Piper, but I believe that both have crafted beautiful visions of the Christian life. Wilson’s vision is more rooted in midieval and renaissance views of Christendom when “The Church” was a transformative entity in culture, not just because of what happened on Sundays, but in how it shaped worldviews through music, art, literature,etc. I highly recommend Angels in the Architecture as one of the best books I have ever read on Christianity and culture. Piper’s beauty is more austere and rooted in sacrifice for the world, so maybe that is really just goodness I am thinking about, but I don’t know how you could sit through one of the multi-lingual worship services at his pastor’s conferences and not confess that he has a truly beautiful vision for how the gospel can impact the world.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 28, 2010 at 9:35 am


Joan, his chp is a sketch with some illustrations of his point but not an extensive discussion of “how to do this.” I think Dopderbeck gets it: White’s close to the faithful presence theory of JD Hunter.
Speaking of which, the captcha is: Mooted speech



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tscott

posted June 28, 2010 at 9:55 am


Who is doing these things well today?….obviously moviemakers have come to the fore in the minds of most. You can argue them being legit on each point, but they have captured the attention.
Faithful living works well on the family, organic level. Here they know your heart and the value of Christ in establishing harmony. Our grandchildren will be impressed by the beauty and yes even the truth and goodness of moviemakers. We must live out to them that harmony, personally and corporately, isn’t a given, but only created with Christ at it’s heart. That influence supercedes all others.



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John

posted June 28, 2010 at 10:19 am


White himself may be an example of doing this well. I’ve been impressed with his new churchandculture.org site, which led me to discover that he is also a pastor of a large church (Mecklenburg Community Church) along with his academic/writing creds.



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T

posted June 28, 2010 at 10:31 am


I don’t know if this is “today” enough, but my first thought still went to Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity. Maybe anything the RC church does has enough “beauty” by virtue of their various trappings. But I’d like to think that such work, set side by side with and clearly energized by the worship of Christ, pegs not only the “goodness” concept but also the truth and beauty. It pegs “beauty” because nothing is as beautiful as agape in motion, especially to those in need. It pegs “truth” because nothing is more true of God than his mercy for the downtrodden. Christ “draws all men” to himself via his cross, the ultimate act of beauty, goodness and truth.



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T

posted June 28, 2010 at 10:36 am


I don’t know if this is “today” enough, but my first thought still went to Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity. Maybe anything the RC church does has enough “beauty” by virtue of their various trappings. But I’d like to think that such work, set side by side with and clearly energized by the worship of Christ, pegs not only the “goodness” but also the truth and beauty. It pegs “beauty” because nothing is as beautiful as agape in motion, especially the personally costly kind. It pegs “truth” because nothing is more true of God than his self-sacraficial love, especially for the downtrodden. Christ “draws all men” to himself via his cross, the ultimate act of beauty, goodness and truth.



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Dana Ames

posted June 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm


T, above
Amen!!!
Dana
captcha: got scar



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