I provided a talk to our parish mens group, the Fellowship of St Joseph on the relationship in between Christ and culture yesterday.It was freely

based upon the classic text by Lutheran theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Christ and Culture.However, I always

found Niebuhrs analysis to be weak and vague. It likewise was not entirely coherent with Catholic history.Therefore I modified it rather to come up with a Catholic variation which also connectsgets in touch with the stages of Catholic history.1. Christ Clashing Against Culture This is the scenario typified by Jesus dealing with Pontius Pilate. The church and Jesus Christ clash with the way of the world. This is an apocalyptic faithone that sees the world as belonging to the devil and the church and Christ remain in fight against it. Jesus states, My kingdom is not of this world and You can not like God and Mammon. The New Testimony continues the thread with St Paul, St John and St James knowning the world and the flesh as opposed intrinsically to Christ and his church. This is almost a dualistic perspective, however one which continues to be powerful in the Christian imagination.2. Christ of Culture-At the conversion of the emperor Constantine Christianity suddenly moved from being the religion of a maltreated unknown sect to being the recognized religion of the Empire. The shift in the relationship between Christ and Culture was groundbreaking and radical. The foundation was laid for a genuinely Christian culture. The emperor and his mother led the methodblazed a trail and beforeeventually the church was established, wealthy and participating not just in the spiritual culture, but affecting art, music, architecture, and literature. Christianity was still, however a substrata of pagan culture, and its influence was more among bringing a Christian perspective on the existing pagan culture.3. Christ is Culture-For a thousand yearsroughly from 500 1500institutional Christianity ended up beingturneded into one with the culture. As Roman civilization passed away out Christianity grew. To be born in Europe was to be a Christian. The schools, medical facilities, court, economics and politics were all either run by the established church or incorporated completely with the church. The pope crowned the emperors. Bishops crowned kings and kings and emperors in return felt totally freedon’t hesitated to engage in church debates, designate bishops and abbots and be involvedassociated with church politics. Christianity in this stage was inseparable from culture. Both were interdependent. This design continued in Catholic Europe beyond the struggles of the sixteenth century so that numerousa lot of the immigrants to the United States in the 1800s still considered themselves Catholic Christians merely due to the fact that they were Irish or Polish, Italian or Portuguese.4. Christ totally free from Culture-The American experiment

was to break totally free from all knowned faith by knowning freedom of faith. Christianity belonged to the worldview of the American founding fathers, however no certain church was knowned and integrated into the culture, the federal government, education, financing, law or politics. Christianity, it was presumed, would play a part as the conscience of the culture, but it would be independent. The state would not interfere in religion and religious beliefs would have no formal power in the state. The bond of the old established order was broken when and for all. The outcome of this was ultimately to have not simply a nonreligious state, however one which would wander increasingly to end up being an atheist state. Continue Reading Image by means of Wikipedia

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