Thursday, February 12, 2009

Christ n' Culture II: Patristic SMACKDOWN

So there are these two early theologians: Augustine (of whom you may have heard) and Tertullian (of whom you may have heard if you are a CHURCH NERD). They were chillin', doing their early church father thing, living lives as Roman citizens, etc.

Now, Augustine, from time to time, was seen down at the show - which, in Rome of the time, meant the gladatorial games. These were brutal blood sports - think Gladiator meets Saw III. Yes, the honor of the slave, of combat, blah blah blah, but seriously folks - if you think we're voyeuristic? At least we don't generally cheer on the spectacle of real people being eaten by real bears. But Augustine went to these things sometimes, and hung out with his boys, at least partially as a ministry to those same heathens.

Tertullian, on the other hand, avoided these entertainments like the plague. Christians, he argued, should avoid anything which might detract from their love for/of and devotion to Christ. The entertainments were pure evil (to some degree) and should be shunned. Christians should be separate.

These have be come, due to the offices of one Paul Tillich, to be called the "Christ in Culture" (Augustine, kinda) and "Christ against Culture" (Tertullian) models. Christians should be in the world, but not of the world...well what the devil does that mean?

My thing, after Tillich's argument, is Christ Transforming Culture. We are here, but we want to be different from the ills of the societies that surround us, and we want those societies to be as much better as we can. If that's through reading and espousing good literature, or even writing good films and books, more power to us. But the first step, as always, is to examine the culture in which we live, particularly (in my case) through film and the sci-fi/fantasy genres.

So, I hope that answers your question, Dawn.

Any other ones troubling you out there, O Internets? Shoot 'em. I got time.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Yay! I am a church nerd! I knew Tertullian!

Ok, here's a good one. What is the Christian/Biblical view of art? Is there one? Does the Bible think that beauty and art are worthwhile on their own merits, or as they affect peoples? What about those wacky Church Fathers?