Monday, May 9, 2011

defending Constantine

Ben Witherington on Constantine.  Fifth in a series of blogs, evaluating Peter Leithart's Defending Constantine and various responses.  Helpful distinction of building culture, rejecting culture, transforming culture... 

Yoder [an Anabaptist writer] would have it that when Christianity loses its beleaguered underdog status it loses something essential, it loses for example its counter-cultural element.    But Christianity was never intended to be counter cultural in the full sense of that term.    Counter-cultural is simply reaction to the dominant culture.  As Andy Crouch reminds us,  Christianity at heart is about building its own positive culture,  and rightly or wrongly that is what Constantine was trying to do.    There is a difference between building culture and transforming culture and rejecting culture and to some degree Christianity was about all three of these things from the start.   It was however only the anti-Christian elements of the culture that was rejected by the earliest Christians such as Paul.  By contrast, Paul says in Phil. 4 that Christians should sift the culture not simply have an allergic reaction to it.  Whatever was noble or honorable or comported with the Gospel in the culture should be affirmed.

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