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Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective

, 2006
ISBN: 9781441226433



Few books have been used as broadly in Christian colleges and seminaries in the past half century as H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture. His five classic typologies of how Christ can relate to culture—Christ against culture, Christ in “paradox” with culture, and so on—have influenced two generations of Protestant and Catholic thinkers.

But in recent decades scholars have become aware that Niebuhr’s typologies need to be rethought in light of changing circumstances. While Niebuhr wrote at a time when it was still possible to speak of Christendom, Christianity since that time has held less and less sway over American and European intellectuals and other shapers of culture. As such, Christianity has found itself increasingly marginalized.

In this work, Craig Carter follows in Niebuhr’s footsteps, using typology to explore the crucial question of how Christians should relate to the world. However, he goes beyond Niebuhr to offer an alternative typology that is arguably more deployable in our post-Christian society. This book is a useful text for college and seminary courses and for any Christian who seeks to understand how to share a timeless message in changing times.

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Resource Experts
  • Evaluates the influence of Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture
  • Questions the effectiveness of contemporary approaches to church and culture
  • Uses “typology” to suggest a new model that uses but also goes beyond Niebuhr
  • Introduction: Reading Niebuhr in a Post-Christendom Situation
  • Rethinking Christ and Culture After Christendom
    • The Argument of Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture
    • Why Christendom Was a Bad Idea
    • The Alternative to Christendom
    • Straight Talk II: Lies the Church Tells About Sex
  • A Post-Christendom Typology of Christ and Culture
    • Christ Legitimizing Culture (Type 1)
    • Christ Separating from Culture (Type 6)
    • Christ Humanizing Culture (Types 2 and 5)
    • Christ Transforming Culture (Types 3 and 4)
  • Conclusion: Jesus or Constantine?
Carter argues that once these presuppositions are stripped out of Christ and Culture, the weaknesses of Niebuhr’s typology are revealed and a different approach both to the typologizing and living of Christ/culture relations becomes possible. The new typology that Carter develops is quite fascinating. But even more important is the bracing, accessible, and exceptionally lucid challenge he offers the church—to renounce both Christendom and the easy endorsement of violence, and thus return to the kingdom ethics of Jesus, Lord of the cosmos. This book is theologically careful, historically rich, and ethically thoughtful.

David P. Gushee, author, Only Human: Christian Reflections on the Journey Toward Wholeness

Craig Carter has written an important book for everyone under the influence of H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, for everyone committed to the church’s witness in the world, and for everyone concerned about the impact of Christianity upon our common life.

Jonathan R. Wilson, author, God So Loved the World

H. Richard Niebuhr’s days are numbered. Or so one can only imagine. This carefully argued and well-written book should bring the curtains down on the more than fifty-year reign of Niebuhr’s typology in Christ and Culture. Carter not only shows how this paradigm is inadequate for our world but offers an alternative paradigm that is at once fuller and richer for understanding the church’s social existence in the midst of a broken world that is loved by God.

Mark Thiessen Nation, author, John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Convictions

  • Title: Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective
  • Author: Craig A. Carter
  • Publisher: Brazos
  • Print Publication Date: 2006
  • Logos Release Date: 2015
  • Pages: 224
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Christianity and culture; Postmodernism › Religious aspects--Christianity; Niebuhr, H. Richard (Helmut Richard), 1894-1962 › Christ and culture
  • ISBNs: 9781441226433, 1587431599, 9781587431593, 1441226435
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:49:15Z

Craig A. Carter (PhD, University of St. Michael’s College) is professor of theology at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Ontario. He previously served as vice president and academic dean at Crandall University and at Tyndale University College. He has written numerous articles and is the author of Rethinking “Christ and Culture”: A Post-Christendom Perspective.


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