In Wednesday’s Centennial Chapel, special guest Andy Crouch addressed the Cairn community with a challenge: If you pray for God to deliver you from culture, you may be praying exactly against the will of God.
After all, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ prayed just the opposite: that God would not take His followers out of the world, but keep them from evil. Besides, as Crouch points out, “What would you be delivered to? Culture is everything we do and are—not just Beyonce, but Duke Ellington and Bach. Culture is buildings… Culture is clothing.”
Rather than be delivered from culture, Crouch suggests, Christians are called to take our place as image bearers and create culture. After unexpectedly leading the student body in a soulful chorus, Crouch points out the pervasive influence of the black Gospel tradition. “Almost certainly,” he points out, “[the Negro spiritual] begins in a field… where a people who have been torn from their homeland are made to work for another with no apparent hope of rescue. Out of that oppression came some of the most astonishing cultural creativity the world has ever seen.” That creativity, he goes on to say, has impacted those with apparently few cultural ties to the Black community—shaping the genre of jazz, which inspired the style of popular artists like Billy Joel.
“Why is that not the story of Christians in culture today?” he challenges us. “Why are we not the ones known for contributing irreplaceable creativity?” Listen to the entire Centennial Chapel lecture here.
Redeeming our role as creative image bearers was the topic not only of Crouch’s Centennial chapel, but of his award-winning book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP, 2008). Nor was creativity the only responsibility to which he challenged the Cairn community on Wednesday. In a Conversations interview for Cairn’s Center for University Studies, he addressed the issue of power—another concept that he believes evangelicals often understand wrongly, as well as the subject of his most recent book, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power.
In addition to writing Culture Making and Playing God, Crouch serves as executive editor of Christianity Today. He is also a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission’s IJM Institute, and his writing has been published in Time and The Wall Street Journal.
Perspective: It’s an important word. It is full of meaning, and its implications are profound, both for us as individuals and for us as a society, a society that seems,