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Christ and Culture Revisited Hardcover – April 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Mark Dever
-- Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
"Don Carson here writes clearly, carefully, and helpfully about the timely topic of how Christians should engage culture. Well-suited to write such a volume, Carson exposes and explodes 'egregious reductionisms' which he says too often afflict Christians. Reading this book has sharpened my own understanding. So buy the book you're holding. Read it. Pass it along to folks in your congregation. And reduce 'egregious reductionisms'!"

Tim Keller
-- Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
"There is no more crucial issue facing us today than the relationship of the church and the gospel to contemporary culture. Don Carson's treatment of this issue is the most balanced one out there. Rather than grinding an ax or pushing his own paradigm, he listens carefully to the Scripture and brings us in the end to a sophisticated simplicity about these matters. I highly recommend this book."

Christianity Today
"Make room on the shelf for this penetrating book by Carson." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. He has written nearly fifty other books, including The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism and How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802831745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802831743
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

222 of 226 people found the following review helpful By Ben Bartlett on April 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How shall Christ and Culture interact? The question is universal. From Christians hiding in China, to the power and majesty of Catholicism, to the Moral Majority in America, to the reclusive Amish communities in Pennsylvania, the Church has struggled with the correct understanding of how faith applies to local context. For years, various groups have fit themselves into one of H. Richard Niebuhr's five categories;

Christ against Culture,
Christ of Culture,
Christ above Culture,
Christ and Culture in Paradox, and
Christ the Transformer of Culture.

D.A. Carson's, "Christ and Culture Revisited," critiques Niebuhr, and offers a more thoughtful and orthodox path forward. It is an excellent bird's eye view of a contentious topic, painted with broad but well-researched strokes. In this review I describe its six chapters, draw out the, "takeaway," ideas, insert a few notes, and give my overall thoughts.

Chapter 1 explains and reviews Niebuhr's, "Christ and Culture." Niebuhr's categories cast a fairly wide net, and Carson's analysis begins to narrow it. He argues that at least one category (Christ of Culture) necessitates a heretical view of Christianity, and as such is not acceptable as a category.

Chapter 2 continues critiquing Niebuhr by applying biblical theology. Carson evaluates Niebuhr's strengths and weaknesses, handling of Scripture, assignment of historical figures, and understanding of canon. He also makes a key argument; to suggest that there are multiple views of Christ and Culture and that individual groups can rightly choose just one is incorrect.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1951 H. Richard Niebuhr penned his now classic volume, Christ and Culture. In it he sought to explore the "enduring problem" of the "many-sided debate about Christianity and civilization". In an attempt to come to terms with this complex and important issue, he presented various models of this relationship.

The result was his famous fivefold reply: Christ against Culture; Christ of Culture; Christ above Culture; Christ and Culture in Paradox; and Christ the Transformer of Culture. Each of these models he describes in detail, and he notes both strengths and weaknesses to the five options. He suggests that believers will have to make up their own minds as to which is the preferred option.

In Carson's new volume he seeks to carry on from where Niebuhr left off. He begins by assessing his work and the five models. He rightly notes that for Niebuhr the real issue is not so much how Christianity relates to culture, but "two sources of authority as they compete within society, namely Christ ... and every other source of authority divested of Christ". And Niebuhr is especially thinking of secular or civil authority here, Carson reminds us.
Carson also notes some weaknesses in Niebuhr's important volume. He did a good job of aligning various historical figures with the five models, but sometimes the fit is far from precise. For example, while Augustine or Calvin may well fit in the transformationist model, they do so only partially. And Tertullian cannot consistently be seen as fitting in the opposition ("against") model. And so on.

Carson then discusses the biblical plotline, and what are some nonnegotiable elements of the biblical worldview. He rightly notes that we do very much have a responsibility to our surrounding culture.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on September 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a rich, revealing, and satisfying survey of how believers relate to the culture in which they live. In the first chapter, Carson adopts Clifford Geertz's definition of culture, which is "an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life (p. 2)."

He also revisits Richard Niebuhr's five constructs which he finds in scripture: Christ against Culture, the Christ of culture, Christ Above Culture, Christ and Culture in paradox, and Christ the Transformer of culture. In chapter two, Carson concludes that the second option is probably unbiblical and that the other four constructs can be true in different times and places, and that it is better to see these as working together rather than four buffet style pick and choose options.

Carson also mentions some non-negotiable teachings in the biblical storyline that must be the foundation of any understanding of how the Christian relates to culture: 1. God made everything good, but that this is a fallen world because of original sin inherited through Adam and Eve 2. Jesus came to inaugerate the New Covenant and to die for our sins and rise again to be the king of the universe 3. There is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be feared.

Chapter three discusses Christ, culture and postmodernism. While Carson acknowledges that culture colors the way we perceive truth, this does not support the postmodern idea that we cannot know truth as truth. We can acknowledge with emergent church leaders that all of our knowledge is interpreted, and also agree with scripture that truth is important and reliable.

There is also a chapter about the Christian and secularism, power, democracy, and freedom.
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