CHRIST AND CULTURE
CHRIST AND CULTURE
Copyright, 1951 , by Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporate.ct, Printed in the United States of America
All rights in this book are reserved. No part of the book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written per mission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address:
Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. , 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N. Y. 10022.
First HARPER TORCHBOOK edition published 1956
CONTENTS FOREWORD ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
]. The Enduring Problem I. THE PROBLEM
II. TOW ARD A DEFINITION OF CHRIST
III. TOWARD THE DEFINITION OF CULTURE
IV. THE TYPICAL ANSWERS
2. Cbrist Against Culture I. THE NE’V PEOPLE AND
” THE WORLD
II. TOLSTOY ‘ S REJECTION OF CULTURE
III. A NECESSARY AND INADEQUATE POSITION
IV. THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
3. Tbe Cbrist of Culture
1 11 29 39
I. ACCOMMODATION TO CULTURE IN GNOSTICISM AND ABELARD 83 II.
” AND A. RITSCHL 91
III. IN DEFENSE OF CULTURAL FAITH I 0 I IV. THEOLOGICAL OBJECTIONS 108
4. Christ Above Culture I. THE CHURCH OF THE CENTER
II. THE SYNTHESIS OF CHRIST AND CULTURE
III. SYNTHESIS IN QUESTION
5. Christ and Culture in Paradox I. THE THEOLOGY OF THE DUALISTS
II. THE DUALISTIC MOTIF IN PAUL AND MARCION n1. DUALISM IN LUTHER AND MODERN TIMES lV. THE VIRTUES AND VICES OF DUAI.ISM
116 120 141
6. Christ the Transformer of Culture I. THEOLOGICAL CONVICTIONS
II. THE CONVERSION MOTIF IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL
III. AUGUSTINE AND THE CONVERSION OF CULTURE
IV. THE VIEWS OF F. D. MAURICE
7. A “Concluding Unscientific Postscript” I. CONCLUSION IN DECISION
II. THE RELATIVISM OF FAITH
III. SOCIAL EXISTENTIALISM
IV. FREEDOM IN DEPENDENCE
230 234 241 249
The present volume makes available in print and in expanded form the series of lectures which Professor H. Richard Niebuhr gave at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in January, 1949, on the Alumni Foundation. This lectureship was inaugurated in 1 945. Since that time the Seminary has had the privilege of present ing to its students and alumni at the time of the midwinter convoca tions the reflections of leading Christian thinkers on important issues and, in part, of stimulating the publication of these refl.ec� tions for the benefit of a wider audience.
The men and their subjects have been:
1945-Ernest Trice Thompson, Christian Bases of World Order 1946-Josef Lukl Hromadka, The Church at the Crossroads 1947-Paul Scherer, The Plight of Freedom 1948-D. Elton Trueblood, Alternative to Futility 194g-H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture 1950–Paul Minear, The Kingdom and the Power 1951 -G. Ernest Wright, God Who Acts
Dr. Niebuhr makes a distinguished contribution in this dear and incisive study in Christian Ethics.
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas
DAVID L. Srrrr, President.
The following essay on the double wrestle of the church with its Lord and with the cultural society with which it lives in symbiosis represents part of the result of many years of study, reflection and teaching. The immediate occasion for the organization and written composition of the material was offered by the invitation of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary to deliver and to publish a series of lectures on the subject. Back of the efforts to condense my observations and reflections into five lectures and then again to refine and elaborate them in the revision lie many other attempts at comprehension and organization of the complex data. Directly antecedent to the Austin lectures were courses in the history and the types of Christian ethics which I offered to students of the Divinity School of Yale University.
“When a work has been so long in preparation the debts accumu lated by the author are so many and so great that public acknowl edgment is embarrassing since it must reveal his lack of adequate gratitude as well as of adequate ability to appropriate the gifts that have been offered him. There are reflections in this book which I regard as the fruits of my own effort to understand but which, nevertheless, are in reality ideas which I have appropriated from others. Some of my former students, should they read these pages, will be able to say at this or that point, “This is a fact or an inter pretation to which I called my teacher’s attention,” but they will look in vain for the footnote in which due credit is given. Fellow students who have written on related subjects will be in the same situation. Yet there is more pleasure than embarrassment in acknowledging this unspecified indebtedness to members of that wide community in which all know that none possesses anything that he has not received and that as we have freely received so we may freely give.
I am most conscious of my debt to that theologian and historiar;. xi
who was occupied throughout his life by the problem of church and culture-Ernst Troeltsch. The present book in one sense un dertakes to do no more than to supplement and in part to correct his work on The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches. Troeltsch has taught me to respect the multiformity and individu ality of men and movements in Christian history, to be loath to force this rich variety into prefashioned, conceptual molds, and yet to seek logos in mythos, reason in history, essence in existence. He has helped me to accept and to profit by the acceptance of the relativity not only of historical objects but, more, of the historical subject, the observer and interpreter. If I think of my essay as an effort to correct Troeltsch’s analyses of the encounters of church and world it is mostly because I try to understand this historical relativism in the light of theological and theo-centric relativism. I believe that it is an aberration of faith as well as of reason to absolutize the finite but that all this relative history of finite men and movements is under the governance of the absolute God. Isaiah 10, I Corinthians 1 2 and Augustine’s City of God indicate the con text in which the relativities of history make sense. In the analysis of the five main types which I have substituted for Troeltsch’s three, I have received the greatest help from Professor Etienne Gilson’s Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages, as well as fruitful sug gestions from C. J. Jung’s Psychological Types.
Many colleagues, relatives, and friends have helped me with coun sel, criticism, and encouragement in the course of the effort to give my reflections the unity and precision which written communication demands in the measure that the complexity of the data and the ability of the worker permit. ! record niy special thanks to my col leagues, Professors Paul Schubert and Raymond Morris, to my sister and brother, Professors Hulda and Reinhold Niebuhr, to Mr. Dud ley Zuver of Harper & Brothers, at whose suggestion the last chapter was added, to my daughter and to Mrs. Dorothy Ansley who assisted with the typescript, to Professor Edwin Penick, who gave most care ful attention to proof sheets and supplied the index, and to my wife. I recollect with gratitude the kindly reception given me at Austin by President Stitt and his colleagues and the part they played in helping me to bring this work to its present, tentative conclusion.
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