Wednesday, January 04, 2012



Justin Taylor looks at Matthew Milliner/T.S. Eliot on the interaction of Christianity and culture:
In this post from First Things Matthew Milliner makes a helpful distinction between two ways of thinking about the relationship between culture and Christ as culture.

The first approach thinks of Christ and culture like the dispensable relationship of the hermit crab and its shell: “The true essence of the gospel might don cultural attire when necessary, but only to just as quickly cast it off, seeking new garb to attract a fresh set of converts.”

The other approach can be thought of along the lines of the indispensable connection between a turtle and its shell: “A turtle is permanently fused to its habitation by its backbone and ribs; the shell is inextricable from the creature itself. Removing it would rip the animal apart. In its single shell lie a turtle’s protection, distinction, and beauty. This unique relationship to its hardened exterior is what places turtles among the earth’s oldest reptiles—contemporaries of both dinosaurs and us.”

He goes on to look at T.S. Eliot’s essays in Christianity and Culture, which advocate a “turtle” approach to culture.
Boy could this analogy get stretched all out of shape. Christianity most certainly did not begin in a turtle like state. The turtle state that developed in Christendom required Reformation. It also was limited to Europe and America - it hit a decidely cultural wall.

Rather, I think Christianity requires turtles operating in a variety of cultural states.

Think about it.

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