Contours of Culture
by Ken Myers
About halfway into his book Foolishness to the Greeks, Lesslie Newbigin presents a claim that illumines the relationship between the book's title and its subtitle: The Gospel and Western Culture. What is it that makes the gospel foolish to our own (and not just the first century's) cultural moment? "From the point of view of our contemporary culture, the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead is irrational. It cannot be incorporated into the existing plausibility structure. . . . It must be regarded as the esoteric belief of a community that is living in a world of make-believe rather than the world of facts."
The gospel is foolish—belief in the Resurrection irrational—because it is unscientific. According to the dominant belief system in Western culture, science (understood in terms established by the Enlightenment) holds the keys to understanding all of reality. When the Apostle Paul preached the Resurrection, rationality was not equated with the inductive, analytical, reductionist methods of science; but today, the unscientific is by definition irrational.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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