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Christ and Culture Revisited

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Called to live in the world, but not of it, the balancing act for Christians becomes more precarious the further our culture departs from its Judeo-Christian roots. How should members of the church interact with such a culture, especially as deeply enmeshed as most of us have become? Here, D. A. Carson applies his masterful touch to the problem. He begins by exploring the ...more
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published April 25th 2008 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published April 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Mark Ward
Carson serves up reminder after reminder that the question of context is all-important both in the interpretation of scripture and in its application to our current situation(s). Where Niebuhr is a reductionist, the Bible calls for—at different times and in different situations, not least in different "dispensations" or redemptive-historical eras—cultural transformation, participation, or opposition as appropriate.

I love Carson, but I do feel that this book meandered a bit. He seemed to be incis
Mar 04, 2009 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Wow, this was a much more difficult read than I'd anticipated. Carson interacts with a great deal other authors--most of whom I've never even heard of, as he wades through the interaction of Christ and Culture. It is a very good book--but not one I would advise many others to try to read. It is heavy on epistemology and philosphy, though with a background in both one could surely navigate it well.

Carson demonstrates that there is no easy paradigm for Christians to follow--but that we must consta
Stephen Hiemstra
For about my first 3 years of college, I never went to church voluntarily. In my senior year of high school, the session had let our youth director go and I felt betrayed and angry. Instead of enjoying my senior year in youth group, the group disappeared overnight and I graduated a fairly isolated and lonely teen. Later, I learned that the youth director had been discovered to be lesbian; another prominent member of the congregation (who I also knew well) was charged with pediphia about the same ...more
Brian Watson
Like everything that Carson writes, this book is thoughtful, biblical, and interesting. He takes up H. Richard Niebuhr's typology of Christ and cultures, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. (Carson finds "Christ of Culture" to lack biblical grounding and the "Christ Transforming Culture," in Niebuhr's view, is too universalistic.) Carson moves beyond Niebuhr, however, so one not need be familiar with Niebuhr's book to read Carson's.

Carson then shows how the totality of Scripture has complem
Dr. Carson revisits H. Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture and demonstrates how the older categories do not work any longer. Dr. Carson's "The Non-negotiables of Biblical Theology," pages 44-59, is worth the price of the book alone; a very well written overview of the Bible. Indeed, it is his conclusion that "the robust and nourishing wholeness of biblical theology... the controlling matrix for our reflection on the relations between Christ and culture will... help us... think holistically and ...more
This was a tough book to review. He writes to converse with Richard Niebuhr's famous look at the various models of interaction between Christians and the world (Christ against/of/above/as paradox to/as transformer of culture--also the subject of Petros Roukas's last WPC sermon series). He throws out "Christ of culture" right away as unbiblical, then moves far afield for the next 80 pages, discussing postmodernism, definitions of culture, forms of democracy, etc. However, his last chapter, discus ...more
Corey Decker
As always, Carson brings a breadth and depth of knowledge and insight to the topic that is most welcome in contemporary evangelicalism. His critique of the traditional 5 views is balanced, fair and thorough. He labels an adherence to one view to the exclusion of the others as gross reductionism. He asserts that a more informed Biblical perspective allows for 4 of the 5 at different times and in different cultures. Rather than attempting to reduce an incredibly complex issue to a simple paradigm ...more
Jacob Aitken
Carson: it is really painful for me to read Carson, but he did score some points in this book. He did a good job showing how all the left-wing theocracy rant books advocate something far worse: The United Nations.

Others have outlined his take on the bible's story. It is sound for the most part and I won't critique it. I will try to critqiue his critiques of other thinkers.

he should have critiqued Smith's *Fall of Interpretation.* It is a better argued book and teh refutation would have been mor
I should state from the outset that I love Don Carson. I love his unfailingly polite and self-consciously awkward style, his clear insights, and his ability to use specialized vocabulary in a way that emphasizes precision without creating a barrier for a reader. All of his strengths are on display in this phenomenal book. The academic work (this is not something to flip through idly, this is a book to be carefully studied) begins with a thorough discussion of what the word "culture" even means ( ...more
Ben Bartlett
Dec 02, 2014 Ben Bartlett rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pastors, theologians
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Collins
Carson's primary point is that Niebuhr's typology is reductionistic. Since most of his types are grounded in some part of revelation, it is wrong to force people to choose between them. Rather, insofar as they are biblical, each type contributes to an overall biblical view. Carson also critiques several other approaches to the Christianity and culture debate and addresses related issues like democracy or church and state relations at greater depth. Again in these discussions Carson's goal seems ...more
I thought this was a very helpful book. Though some people have made some complaints about it here on goodreads, I have to disagree with most of them. Carson isn't setting out to offer some cookie cutter method by which to approach culture (as Christian) that transtemporally and transculturally works no matter what. I think he's mainly trying to show that variegated nature of things, the grayness necessarily involved as we Christians live as dual citizens, makes things a tad bit more detailed an ...more
This is the first book I have read by DA Carson. I found it often hard to follow but that is probably because I'm not very familiar with seminaryese and because the topic is one I'm not familiar with. It's not what I was expecting. I was thinking of culture more like entertainment and ethics, this deals more with political questions and how we should interact with the state. He is writing in response to Neibuhr's book called Christ and Culture, evidently a very influential book but I never read ...more
At best, Carson takes a highly charged theological issue (Christ, culture, and how to navigate those dark and murky waters) and addresses it from the perspective of an extremely competent biblical scholar. Carson clearly has theological chops and an an ecyclopedic knowledge of cultural landmines, but shines when looking Christ and (politics, science, art, etc.) from a Biblical lens.

At worst, Carson takes a highly charged theological issue and addresses it from the perspective of an extremely com
Adam T Calvert
Reading the reviews on the back from Mark Dever and Tim Keller, I was expecting a lot from this book. However, after reading it I'm left still wondering what I actually read. I'm sure the fault lies with me rather than D.A. Carson; but I couldn't take a whole lot away from this book. Perhaps if I were more familiar with the original "Christ and Culture" by H. Richard Niebuhr, I would've had a better understanding/appreciation of Carson's book. But even in the chapters that didn't presuppose an a ...more
A challenging but stimulating read, particularly for those who have read H. Richard Niebuhr's classic work "Christ and Culture" (to which this book is a response) and are less than satisfied with its conclusions.
Really quite good.

Carson stays away from the "reductionist" theories of Niebuhr and others while showing that if we maintain a grasp of the "turning points" of the Bible's storyline (and other major emphases within the Bible) that, as Christians, we can find biblically faithful (and therefore faithful to Christ) answers to our relations with cultures and periods and states.

The book is somewhat scholarly, so some may find it a bit of a slog, nevertheless this book is well worth it as an overview
Aaron Braun
Apr 18, 2008 Aaron Braun is currently reading it
I read Niebuhr's "classic" last year. His book, while extremely well written and even quite interesting, is also doctrinally-liberal, politically-socialistic, and culturally-divisive. His work falls in line with the modernistic post-hegelian humanistic optimism of his era. Despite this, I truly enjoyed reading Niehbuhr's work, even if it did progressively tick me off. I've been wanting to write something about Niebuhr's work myself. I have also been wanting to read something of Carson's. I'll te ...more
Todd Miles
Far be it from me to criticize Carson, but this book was disappointing. Perhaps it was my expectations of Carson, but I really struggled to locate his main argument. He interacts with Neibuhr in the first chapter and then uses him as a bit of a foil throughout. His analysis is that many of Neibuhr’s categories for Christ and Culture are unbiblical and none of them are wholly satisfactory. In the end, Carson does not present us with a compelling model either. I suspect he would say that solid bib ...more
Steve Herreid
Fully in line with what I've come to expect from Don Carson - articulate, Biblical, clear, nuanced, edifying. Avoids reductionism! I loved this book.
reappraisal of Niebuhr's classic five-fold Christ & culture options with a special view toward postmodernism, church/state issues, and an analysis of recent themes.
This was a good recap on class Niebuhr and then an attempt to shed the light of the past 60 years onto the topic. But, I walked away wondering what the purpose and conclusion of the book really was. What was the therefore? Felt very jumbled and disorganized without any real takeaways or conclusion.
Michael Longson
Very good coverage of the material and insightful in many ways, but the style is very dry.
Jacob Van
This was a well researched book about how the church and Christians should interact with culture. The first part of the book summarized, interacted with and critiqued H Richard Niebuhr's classic Christ and Culture. I have not read it and because of this I felt like I was in over my head. The latter portion of the book focused on the relationship between the church and the state, good but dense. I enjoyed the last chapter the best. Carson summarized the book and also gave a summary of historical ...more
Mark A Powell
A generation ago, H. Richard Niebuhr proposed five possible options to explain the relationship between Christ and culture. Carson examines each of these claims and proposes some more biblical alternatives. Carson is typically thorough in his analyses, providing a step-by-step excursion through Niebuhr’s framework. While Carson borders on the superfluous in a few places (and one does not envy deciding where to be succinct and where to elaborate), the result is a heady, but helpful, examination.
Would highly recommend this - it's an incredibly thorough critique of Niebuhr's work and related writings. For those aware of particular aspects of postmodernism or church and state separation, it thoroughly addresses those aspects of Christianity relating to culture.
I feel like I'm constantly learning about key aspects of world history I should have known, and Carson's vocabulary is consistently educational in it's breadth.
Teaching a Worldview class I found this book a helpful addition to the discussion. Carson gives a thorough analysis of Richard Niebuhr work Chris and Culture. He gives understanding of many of the distortions of this concept in this postmodern world. He shows the relationship of between Christ and the culture based on a biblical approach that focuses on redemptive history. it is a book that makes you think.
William Dicks
While I think highly of Carson, and I have read some of his other books, I never got to finish this book. I know that some might see it as heresy to say anything bad about someone like Carson, I felt that this book was very stilted and repetitive. I started feeling like a moth circling a flame, but never finding anything. I know that many will disagree, but this is my honest opinion!
I was expecting much from from this book. I thought Carson was going to really go into detail about Christ and Culture. Instead he was responding to a book from the 50's written by H. Richard Niebuhr. He was actually revisiting an actual book and updating and critiquing it to modern culture and advancement today. Good resource and worthy read, just did not meet expectations.
Carson's update of Niebuhr's Christ and Culture lacks the original's scope and penetration, but does point out genuine weaknesses and advance the conversation. Carson adds postmodernism to the discussion, mostly by way of criticism. My overall impression is that an excellent biblical scholar and wide reader was nevertheless a bit out of his depth in this volume.
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  • Christ and Culture
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  • The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
  • The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
  • From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God
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D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Cana ...more
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