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Christ and Culture Revisited

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  471 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Called to live  in  the world, but not to be  of  it, Christians must maintain a balancing act that 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? D. A. Carson applies his masterful touch to this problem. He begins ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Eerdmans
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Mark Jr.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Jacob Aitken
Carson reworks Niehbur’s typology and offers numerous insights on how to navigate the murky waters of our relation to culture. Note, I say he offers insights. I do not say he solves the problem, for I don’t think this problem can be solved on this side of the eschaton. Niehbur’s typology is as follows:

(1) Christ against culture (Tertullian, anabaptists)
(2) Christ of culture (liberalism)
(3) Christ above culture (Thomism)
(4) Christ and culture in paradox (Lutheranism)
(5) Christ transforming cultur
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Ben Bartlett
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pastors, theologians
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rodney Harvill
In this book, Dr. Carson critiques and updates the paradigmatic evaluation of the relationship between Christians/the church and the surrounding culture by H. Richard Niebuhr in his book Christ and Culture, published several decades ago. Niebuhr's paradigms were:

1. Christ against culture, a position representative of the Christian's sole loyalty to his God and often associated with the persecuted church
2. Christ of culture, a position also known as cultural Christianity, in which Christians sync
Nathan Metz
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book that helped me to enter into a healthy conversation with Niebuhr's work while looking for areas to develop it. I used this book in a study on contextualization in ministry and found it to be hugely beneficial. I would recommend it to missionaries and pastors looking to develop a foundational philosophy of ministry to help reach new cultures and communities.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Corey Decker
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
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
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
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
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
D.A. Carson revisits H. Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture. Niebuhr's work has been the standard basis for the conversation of the relationship between Christ and culture, between the Church and society, between Christians and the culture around them, for 65 years. Carson analyzes Niebuhr's model and offers refutations of one part and correctives for the other four.

In terms of thoughtful reflection, Carson leaves no stone unturned (figuratively speaking). He sets forth a critical approach base
Brian Collins
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church-state
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
Joe Haack
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
It lacked focus.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Adam T Calvert
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
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
Aaron Braun
Apr 17, 2008 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
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, theology
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
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
Will Turner
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture
Primarily a negative assessment of Niebhur's famous Christ and Culture (Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ the transformer of culture). He argues that to chose any one (or more) of these options is entirely reductionistic.

Christianity is simply too complex. Culture is too complex. If we take the entire breadth of Scripture into account we cannot limit ourselves to one approach to culture.

Would a positive approach of looking
Jacob Van
Jun 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
M. J.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
An excellent place to start the exploration of what it means to be in the world but not of the world and how followers of Jesus have thought differently about this. Carson gives a clear overview and critique of the original Christ & Culture paradigm by Niebuhr. I was disappointed that Carson does not put forward a clear new paradigm or a least not one that registered with me during my initial reading.
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
David Cowpar
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Revisited more like Slated.

Basically this book is full of why Carson agrees with nobody else fully on their theories on Christian engagement with culture. Unfortunately, Carson fails to really provide an alternative to those other works he criticises, which includes Niebuhr's Christ and Culture but also two other works of the same name.

It works well as a literature review but little to no further insight on the topic.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Mark A Powell
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
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.
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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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