Tag Archives: H. Richard Niebuhr

Another layer of the onion: “Imperial accommodation”–all bad?


Cover of "Christ and Culture"

I'm a "Christ above culture" guy, but that doesn't mean I ignore the evils of a culture-accommodated Christianity

Reader David responded to the post with the following:

While I agree that Constantine is not the whole story of the development of Christendom.  In my understanding, he is but one step – a formative one –  in a longer slide toward Christendom (which is not the same as saying “perfect before/all bad after.” I think we need to at least characterize this shift as my friend Alan Kreider does from the imperial accommodation of Christianity (Constantine) to imperial adoption of Christianity (Theodosius). There is a  difference between declaring religious tolerance of Christianity and making it the Imperial religion.

To me, this is an important distinction. As I responded initially to David: Continue reading

The culture question: “All things to all men” or “Be ye separate”?


This is the second of my “Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of Christian History Professor” series on Christianity Today International’s history site a few years back. It deals with the Christ-and-culture question:

#2: “All things to all men” or “Be ye separate”?
Chris Armstrong

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? Continue reading