Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Christ and Culture: Mark Dever On "Redeeming The Culture"

Dear friends, I wanted to post this video link interview with Dr. Mark Dever because in this he addresses a very popular concept in modern mission discussions over the concept of "redeeming the culture." His nuances and insights are very helpful and I believe very much so right on concerning this concept of how we as believers are to think about and engage culture. He like many others have found themselves uneasy about the very well intentioned and commendable brothers who have been seeking to "redeem the culture" - meaning seeking to see real transformation take place in our cities. We need to care for the poor, we need to be agents of change in social and political context - however, is this "the gospel"? Is it a reflection of the gospel? Most certainly. However tied to some of the "missional"/"redeeming the culture" talk would be ideas and language that seems to reflect more on the changing of "social structures" - and that being the "gospel." Listen to what Dr. Dever has to say. It is very insightful, especially in his concerns - and look for the nuances he gives, as they are very insightful and helpful in sharpening our thinking on this issue.


Mark said...

Very helpful.

In an interview with Derek Thomas about his book Christ and Culture Revisited, Dr. D. A. Carson answered the question, "Why don't you like the terminology of 'redeeming the culture'?" Here's his answer:

Redemption terminology in the NT is so bound up with Christ's work for and in the church that to extend it to whatever good we do in the broader world risks a shift in focus. Not for a moment do I want to deny that we are to serve as salt and light, that exiles may be called to do good in the pagan cities where Providence has appointed them to live (Jer 29), that every square foot of this world is under Christ's universal reign (even though that reign is still being contested), that the nations of the world will bring their "goods" into the Jerusalem that comes down from above. But many of those who speak easily and fluently of redeeming the culture soon focus all their energy shaping fiscal and political policies and the like, and merely assume the gospel. A gospel that is merely assumed, that does no more than perk away in the background while the focus of our attention is on the "redemption" of the culture in which we find ourselves, is lost within a generation or two. At the same time, I worry about Christians who focus their attention so narrowly on getting people "saved" that they care little about doing good to all people, even if especially to the household of God. Getting this right is not easy, and inevitably priorities will shift a little in various parts of the world, under various regimes. Part of the complexity of the discussion, I think, is bound up with what the church as church is responsible for, and what Christians as Christians are responsible for: I have argued that failure to make this distinction tends to lead toward sad conclusions.

The rest of the interview can be found here.


Mark said...

Came across this a while ago while eating lunch...

More from Dever.....I believe this came from a Boundless podcast.

Thought it might continue the thought a little more.


take care my friend.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this discussion and I have shared the same concerns Dever outlines in the video and and the audio clip posted above.

I like where Dever points out the there will be worse human suffering for every person who bares the holy wrath of God toward there sin. We must keep our priority on giving people the "word of the cross" (1 Cor. 1:18), the "open statement of the truth" as Paul puts it in 2 Cor. 4:2, and not transform good works into another gospel.

Ken Heizer - Kansas City
Thanks for posting this.

Matthew said...

Ken thank you so very much for your comments! It is so very very important to keep the message of the gospel (what it is) clear! Take care brother!