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Frame, Christianity and Culture: Christ and Culture

In Frame’s second lecture on Christianity and Culture, he begins to address the different ways Christians engage their culture, using Niebuhr’s five categories as his basis for categorization. The purpose of his lecture is not just to describe these perspectives, but to argue for one perspective to be true according to Frame’s understanding of the Scriptures.

You can read all Frame’s lectures on Christ and Culture in this PDF.

Frame argues against Christ Against Culture because, even though the Bible often says that Christians should be separate and distinct from the world, the “culture” encompasses more than what the Bible means by “world.” This is a disagreement with Niebuhr himself who says that his term for culture is identical to how the New Testament uses “world.” Nevertheless Frame concludes that we should not be Christ Against Culture.

Likewise Frame argues against Christ of Culture. While Frame acknowledges that Jesus does affirm what is right and good in culture he says that we can’t limit him to culture- like some proponents of this perspective tend to do. Besides this, as I said in a previous post about Frame’s lectures, he can’t accept their low view of sin. Eventhough he doesn’t like this perspective Frame wisely comments that we all are tempted by this and do it (even if we don’t notice it).

In my last post about Frame’s lectures I noticed that by his definition of culture there are only two perspectives he could possibly agree with: Christ Above Culture and Christ Transforming Culture. When he comes to discuss the first of these two possibilities, he dismisses it. His problem with this perspective is when we relegate God to only certain forms of culture and remove him from others by saying non-Christian culture can only get us so far, but we need Christ for the rest. Since Frame believes God is inextricably part of all creation- including the cultures we have created- he cannot hold this position.

While Frame’s definition of culture precludes him holding to a Christ and Culture in Paradox he admits that he empathizes with this perspective. At the end of the day Frame opts out of this view because of the duality in both God’s sovereignty and standards. Frame believes that God’s sovereignty and standards extend to the entire world, and does not like to relegate them to only Christians.

This leaves only one of Niebuhr’s perspectives open to Frame- not only by default by criticizing the rest but because of his definition of culture. Despite this he doesn’t feel like he has to resort to be described by Christ Transforming Culture but embraces it because he believes it is the most Biblical of all Niebuhr’s positions.

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