Book Reviews -- By: Matthew S. DeMoss
BSac 174:696 (October-December 2017) p. 476
By The Faculty and Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
Created and Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture. By William Edgar. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017. x + 262 pp. $24.00.
The relationship between theology and culture is an important topic today, both academically and practically. William Edgar has written a helpful book treating this broad subject with the attention it deserves.
In his introduction, Edgar shows that “a concern with culture has virtually flooded the academic world” (p. 7). This revival of cultural interest is at least in part because “tried-and-true explanations for world events, particularly economic ones, seem both dated and shallow” (p. 7). In summarizing and explaining the centrality of culture, Edgar says, “Culture characterizes our calling here on earth. It distinguishes our common humanity, but also our differences. Culture can be positive, leading to human flourishing, or negative, bringing corruption and abuse. Components of culture are numerous and varied, making generalizations difficult. And although value judgments should be made cautiously, they are surely appropriate” (p. 10).
The author goes on in the first part of this book to cite some Christian voices on the subject of culture, including Richard Niebuhr, C. S. Lewis, Abraham Kuyper, Klaas Schilder, and Francis Schaeffer. Each of these people offers a unique perspective on culture; Edgar includes references to their biblical and theological underpinnings.
Edgar states, “Simply put . . . the Bible teaches that cultural engagement before the living God is, along with worship, the fundamental calling of the human race” (p. 87). To this end Edgar provides considerable discussion of the “contra mundum” texts, or those texts that seem to argue against the problem of worldliness. Do these texts indeed speak “against the hazards of cultural involvement” (p. 89)? Some of the texts and biblical subjects considered under this heading are the Synoptic Gospels, the Sermon on the Mount, God and Caesar, Jesus facing Pilate, John, the non-Johannine letters, and Genesis.
The heart of Edgar’s study, as he states it, are those texts and ideas related to the cultural mandate that issues out of Genesis 1:26-30. He says that the cultural mandate could be condensed to three headings: “1. The covenant blessing on the human race.” Edgar explains, “Nothing in culture makes any sense apart from God’s covenant presence” (p. 176). “2. To be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with our productive presence.” ...
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