In a class we were discussing Niebuhr's five typical ways in which the church has dealt with the problem of Christ and culture.
We were supposed to decide where Nazarenes fit in. I think the expected answer was #3 but I know an increasing number of Nazarenes who identify more with #5 or at least wish we as a denomination did. Someone suggested that #5 was for activists, more than just transformationists. I was left kind of hanging at that point. With the exception of one person, I don't know if anyone in the class understood where I was coming from.1. Christ against Culture. For the exclusive Christian, history is the story of a rising church or Christian culture and a dying pagan civilization.
2. Christ of Culture. For the cultural Christian, history is the story of the Spirit’s encounter with nature.
3.Christ above Culture. For the synthesist, history is a period of preparation under law, reason, gospel, and church for an ultimate communion of the soul with God.
4.Christ and Culture in Paradox. For the dualist, history is the time of struggle between faith and unbelief, a period between the giving of the promise of life and its fulfillment.
5. Christ Transforming Culture. For the conversionist, history is the story of God’s mighty deeds and humanity’s response to them. Conversionists live somewhat less “between the times” and somewhat more in the divine “now” than do the followers listed above. Eternity, to the conversionist, focuses less on the action of God before time or life with God after time, and more on the presence of God in time. Hence the conversionist is more concerned with the divine possibility of a present renewal than with conservation of what has been given in creation or preparing for what will be given in a final redemption.
Then I read Paul's post in the Trayon Martin's America thread -So I am back to my question plus have added in a second one -I too find it more than a little troubling that white evangelicals have failed to speak out on this issue. Regardless of the facts in the particular case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman racism is alive and well in America. If Dr. Phillips reports correct statistics, and I have no reason to believe that they are not spot on, then racism is on the rise as indicated by the increase of radical hate groups. These groups and the attitudes behind them are symptomatic of a systemic evil. And I believe that this is the real subject of Dr. Phillips article. Take for instance the California prison system where racism is fostered by the Department of Corrections, if it wasn't actually initiated by them. CDC fought tooth and nail to maintain racial segregation thereby fostering racism, finally lost in the Supreme Court yet the prison populations are still segregated. Our prisons are but a microcosm of our state at large. This makes me want to pursue this train of thought again as well as bring up another question. Where are the Nazarene voices speaking out against racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression within our society? The Nazarene voice sure seems to be one conservative, white privilege. Privilege is a bias that is hard to overcome, it is part and parcel of the narratives in which we were raised and continue to be immersed in. The first step is to recognize that we have this bias, that our thinking in race relations is coloured by our bias, our position of privilege.
- Are we as a denomination in the third category, and if so should we be exclusively there?
- Would Paul's observation be explained by the idea that many Nazarenes in the USA, which means historically has been predominantly white and not in poverty, have emphasized being Christ above Culture through stressing salvation and not Christ Transforming Culture?