Sunday 8 February 2009

Jack Schultz on Culture and the Christian

Jack Schultz, ‘Culture and the Christian’, Modern Reformation 18, 1 (January-February 2009), 23-24.

The January-February 2009 issue of Modern Reformation contains several pieces devoted to the theme of ‘Christ in a Post-Christian Culture’.

William Edgar, ‘Culture and Calling: The Open Question’.
Michael Horton, ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’
David F. Wells, ‘Living in the Matrix’.
Jack Schultz, ‘Culture and the Christian’.
David Gibson, ‘Text, Church, and World: A Theology of Expository Preaching’.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, ‘Flying for Jesus’.
John Warwick Montogomery, ‘God at University College Dublin’.

Schultz begins by noting that culture is one of those concepts ‘that everyone knows what it means as long as they don’t have to define it’ (23).

E.B. Tylor (1871) saw it as ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’ (23).

Clifford Geertz (1973) saw it ‘as a set of control mechanisms – plans, recipes, rules, instructions (what computer engineers call “programs”) – for the governing of behavior’ (23).

And for Schultz himself: ‘Culture is… a complex, dynamic system of patterns of action and interactions that a loosely bounded group of people share in a particular environment’ (23).

Our church institutions, he points out, are culturally situated, and we remain in a dialogue in which we are both producer and product of culture; but ‘there has never been a comfortable relationship between Christianity and culture’ (24). Moreover, ‘our faith is ultimately a connection between individuals and the Living God. Our cultures provide a framework, a language, a location for living that relationship, but we must not confuse one for the other’ (24).

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