Christianity and Culture

  1. Culture defined:

    Culture is the secondary environment that man builds upon the creation, comprising language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organization, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values.

  2. Representative Christian attitudes toward culture:

    1. We should reject and/or condemn the culture.

    2. We should accommodate ourselves to the culture as much as possible.

    3. We should seek to transform the culture with Christian principles.

  3. Basic principles regarding culture:

    1. The Bible speaks not merely to the salvation of the individual soul but also to issues of culture.

    2. Christ's kingship. Ephesians 1:20-22, Colossians 1:16

    3. The church and the world. I John 2:15-17, John 15:18-19

    4. Retreat? John 17:11,14-18

    5. Is culture an unqualified evil? 1 Corinthians 9:20-23, Romans 2:14-15, Romans 13:3-4

  4. We should seek to transform the culture with Christian principles.

    1. What is the church's role as an institution? 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

    2. What is our role as redeemed individuals? Luke 3:12-14, Matthew 5:13-14

    3. Discernment. Romans 12:1-2

    4. Do cultural efforts have eternal value? Revelation 21:24-27, Isaiah 60:10-21

  5. A critique of entertainment in our culture


Christ and Culture, by Richard Niebuhr, Harper & Brothers, 1951, 259 pp. This is the classic study of the relationship between Christ and culture. If you want to do a serious study of this subject, this book is a must read. The author's ability to see the common threads of thought in various movements and schools of thought in church history is astounding and quite helpful. However, be aware that the author holds to a rather liberal view of the authority of Scripture and also tends to emphasize the process of theology more than the results.
Availability: AU Library

The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, by Henry R. Van Til, Baker, 1959, 245 pp. I highly recommend this as a companion to Niebuhr's book. The author holds a high view of Scripture and presents a clear picture of the Christian's relationship to culture.
Availability: AU Library

Lectures on Calvinism, by Abraham Kuyper, Revell, 1899, 275 pp. This book was originally a set of six lectures delivered at Princeton Seminary in 1898. He shows how our view of God prepares us to take up the work of cultural transformation. This book has personally inspired me toward a greater appreciation of the relationship between my work and my life in Christ.
Availability: AU Library or

"Christ and culture: Does the church evangelize the world, or does the world evangelize the church?" by Gene Edward Veith, World, May 23, 1998. Brings out some great examples of how the culture puts pressure on the church to conform to its mold.

"Cultural Corrosion and Consecration," by Roy Atwood, Credenda/Agenda. Argues that the source of America's cultural problems are theological. We have separated religion from culture.

"Cultural Corrosion and Consecration," by Roy Atwood, Credenda/Agenda. Thought-provoking analysis of pop culture.

"Got to be Good Looking Cause He's so Hard to See", by Douglas Wilson, Credenda/Agenda, v. 12, n. 3. Short article that is an absolute must-read in understanding Christianity and culture. He carefully distinguishes outward manifestations of culture that may or may not be sinful with the intention behind it. He also properly distinguishes various types of culture high culture, folk culture, and pop culture. You must read this article.