Rethinking Christ and Culture

More than half a century after its publication, H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture still generates theological and ethical heat from its detractors, who are joined by Craig Carter in this critique of Christendom and its embrace of violent coercion.

Carter, a professor of religious studies at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, clearly writes from a post-Christendom—but not a post-Christian—perspective. Niebuhr’s ideal-type construct, he argues, was formulated with the unarticulated presupposition that Christendom, with its fusion of religious and political power, was “real, permanent, and on the whole a good thing.” Because Niebuhr began with that distorted assumption, says Carter, the typology he constructed was truncated and theologically faulty.

 

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