Guest / Limited Access /

Dear folks,

In the last installment of "Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of a Christian History Professor," I took a cue from the Emergent movement and argued that we have to go back to the past to get to the future. (Some Emergents call this sort of thing "Vintage faith"; others, borrowing a phrase from the scholar of historical worship Robert Webber, use the term "Ancient-future faith.")

More specifically, I argued that we need to read the lives of "the saints"—our forebears, who translated the gospel for their cultures by teaching, preaching, and especially living it—for clues to how we should be translating the gospel for our own cultures.

But now we face a serious question: Is the whole idea of "translating the gospel for culture" off-base to begin with?

Recently, thinkers like Stanley Hauerwas (Resident Aliens) and Rodney Clapp (Peculiar People) have suggested just this. These critics have said that a politically directing, culture-shaping role has ensnared and compromised the church from Constantine to the end of Christendom. Depending on who you talk to, that end of Christendom is dated variously, but the important thing is that we have now arrived at a new frontier: The church no longer wields (and—at least potentially—is no longer corrupted by) the power to dictate to the state.

This, to these critics, means that Christians can now once again take our cues not from the powerbrokers of this world—the politicians and "popes" (Catholic or otherwise)—but from the German Confessing Church, the Anabaptists, and ultimately Jesus. In their mold, we can challenge rather than coddle the cultural powers-that-be, jamming the wheels of their corrupt progress where necessary—simply by living the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended
Subscriber Access Only Men Are from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll praises Jesus, blasts mega-churches, and extols Reformed theology.
TrendingWorship Songwriter Vicky Beeching Comes Out as Gay
Worship Songwriter Vicky Beeching Comes Out as Gay
The CCM worship world has its Jennifer Knapp moment.
Editor's PickWe Need More than Liturgy
We Need More than Liturgy
Liturgical worship is the rage among many evangelicals. 'Not so fast,' says a liturgical Christian.
Comments
Christianity Today
Is It Wrong-Headed to Translate the Gospel for Culture?
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.