Christianity & Culture
with Eric Metaxas
This year’s Anglican Way Institute Summer Conference focuses on the critically important topic of Christianity and Culture. Reinhold Niebuhr in his classic, Christ and Culture, speaks of a double movement between God and the world. He refers to the twofold movement of the world to God and God to the world. In the middle of this double movement, Christianity and culture encounter each other in the tensions of the coming and going God, reaching the world and the world coming to God.
The challenge that the church faces is how do we to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, working both with and against the culture? As we wrestle with this question, we are reminded of the famous statement of Tertullian in the 2nd century, “What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?” Historically, some have answered nothing. But as Christians, we are called to baptize and disciple the nations. As the world comes to God, the issue then turns on how much of the world is given to God. The ultimate question is political. This became known as the relationship between the Church and the State.
Over the last 1500 years in the West, although not perfectly, Christianity in many ways triumphed over the world. The victory was to the extent that the Church and culture came to recognize that the West had become a “Christian culture.”
Over the past hundred years, Christian culture began to be taken back into the world. Ruthless, atheistic states arose in place of once mighty Christian nations. And though other, once Christian cultures like America have not faced atheistic revolution, the rebellion of western culture against Christ and the Church has run its course to the extent that historians now speak of it as Post Christendom. Now how should the Church respond?
What is the relationship now between Christ and a Post Christian culture that has reverted back to paganism?
To attempt to answer these and other vital questions, our annual AWI conference will bring a timely plenary speaker, Eric Metaxas, to this timely topic. Historian, scholar, journalist, author, and widely acclaimed speaker, we are blessed to have Mr. Metaxas as our conference speaker this year. He has researched, written, and spoken extensively on the relationship between Christ and culture. He’s authored books on such topics as how Anglican evangelicals played an influential role in abolishing slavery in 19th century England; the way a legendary Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer worked against the atheist fascist takeover of Germany; and of late, he’s written on the rise and possible fall of atheism in our time.
Therefore, this years’ AWI conference is an opportunity to hear one of the most timely, knowledgeable, and articulate speakers on the topic of Christianity and culture today. Rarely does such a timely topic meet the right speaker for the occasion. In God’s providence, it’s going to happen with God’s help this summer at AWI. I encourage and pray that you will make every effort to attend. Who knows when such an opportunity will come along again?
Sincerely in Christ,
The Most Rev. Dr. Ray R. Sutton
Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church
Dean of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America