15 September 2006

Evaluating the Christ Against Culture View (2)

Civilization Through Tunnel VisionAs we have seen, the Christ against Culture view interprets the call to separate from the world in ways that contradict the Great Commission and other Biblical obligations to the outside world. The underlying problem here is a sad case of tunnel vision.

What is apparent on the surface of things is that this view assumes that holiness entails physical separation from civilization. For instance, among the Amish, while ideas like Hochmut (pride) and Demut (humility) are emphasized, these heart conditions are irrevocably tied up with specific external expressions. The association is so strong that one may actually be arrogant about his humility, that is, spiritually haughty about his externally self-humiliating practices. Paul seems to address this very idea when he denounced the Colossian heresy, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Col 2:23). So a commendable desire for holiness becomes a grotesque display of arrogance because holiness is reduced to observing certain external taboos.

Beneath the surface is a failure to acknowledge pervasive depravity. It is ironic that the type of Christ-culture answer that is so keenly aware of the pervasive corruption due to sin in human civilization appears theologically oblivious to a continuing sin problem in the life of the reconstituted community. But if they realized the depth of their problem, they would also realize the helplessness of this solution.

To sum up the evaluation then, the Christ against Culture view recognizes the pervasive problem of sin in civilization, but it fails to fully understand it. In striving “to leave this world,” they have not only failed to solve the problem of sin, they have aggravated it by neglecting clear commands of Christ to be salt and light in front of a watching world.

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