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Additional info for Artists, Citizens, Philosophers: Seeking the Peace of the City : An Anabaptist Theology of Culture
Culture is “the ‘artificial secondary environment’ that man superimposes on the natural. ” It is concerned with how to achieve a plurality of this-worldly values, ranging from economic wellbeing to an appreciation of the arts and literature. Christ Niebuhr began by considering various ways to define Christ. One of the possibilities was to use Troeltsch’s typology. Troeltsch used a plurality of definitions of Christ. The sect sees Jesus as the giver of the new law, the mystic sees Christ as the living presence of the revelation of God, and the church sees Christ as the redeemer who mediates God’s grace through word and sacrament.
The sect relates to the world either by withdrawing from the dominant social institutions of society or by seeking to revolutionize these institutions radically. The mystic, in contrast to both the church and the sect, is more individualistic. It is less institutionalized and forms groups on a more personal basis. It views Christ primarily as the divine Spirit present in all reality. Mysticism emphasizes the world of ideas and personal religious experience, and is not hardened by doctrine and formal worship.
The church does not depend for its life on a particular form of government or economic system. It seeks to be obedient to God and seek the welfare of the city even in totalitarian and repressive systems. But every land is also a foreign land. Christians have an allegiance to another city. They belong to Jesus Christ. Thus, their loyalties and commitments transcend narrow national identities. So why do I limit this theology of culture to the North American context? I do insist that we should be aware of the larger global context.