Craig Bartholomew: On Creation, Culture and “Deviant Politics”

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As we look past the election, how should we live? Craig Bartholomew, Professor of Philosophy at Redeemer University College, addresses this question in his election-day talk at Southeastern Seminary on Luke 24:13-42, “Two Meals, Two Ways, Two Americas?”

Here are a few excerpts.

Do politics matter?

“It is far too easy for us to think that politics does not really matter. I want to remind you, my brothers and sisters, that you could not have lived through World War II and held that view. It would have been impossible to have your eyes opened during World War II and think politics didn’t matter. Deviant politics can be absolutely catastrophic, and it was during World War II, and it led to the genocide of some 6 million Jews (and many others) using the most up-to-date technology to implement what national socialists called ‘the final solution.’ And it took the remarkable political will of figures like Winston Churchill to lead the stand against the eruption of evil.

“To this day scholars (Christian and non) continue to debate the role of the church during those desperate days. America, as I see it, is now in a situation where terrorism is increasingly manifesting itself in our midst. America’s debt is colossal. Major ethical issues are confronting this great nation. And this election tells us very clearly that Americans are deeply divided. And we know whoever emerges today as President will make a significant difference to the future of this great country.”

Deviant politics can be absolutely catastrophic.


What is culture?

“What is culture? Well, let me try and open that up a bit. Culture stems from the doctrine of creation. If we’re going to recover an understanding of the importance of culture and how it relates to Christ, you have to retrieve a very robust doctrine of creation.…

“God has made us embodied creatures of flesh and bone. He’s placed us in a concrete material, visceral world of sky, land, and sea; of cities, towns and farms; of families and educational institutions, like this one here. Now of course, not all of these elements emerged straightaway when God ushered the creation into existence. But the potential for them was built into the creation. Augustine, for example, speaks of seeds that God has planted in his creation.

“And one of the glorious responsibilities of being human, of being made in the imago Dei, is that we are called to exercise a royal stewardship over creation, to water those seeds, to allow the creation to develop and for all its hidden potentials to come to the surface, so that more and more the creation resounds like a grand symphony to the glory of God. And insofar as culture is something that is part of creation, it’s not just something we should tolerate. It is a sheer delight.

Without creation, there is no redemption.

“Culture, if it emerges as I’ve argued out of creation, is part of that ‘very good’ which Elohim pronounces over his creation. So, you see, culture is about how we organize our lives, how we do family life, how we do societies and nations. Culture is about the air we breathe, the exercise we take, the way we locomote around our towns and cities, the food we eat, the books we read, the books we write, how we educate, the music we make, the music we listen to, the films we make, the films we watch, and the leaders we elect.

“This is not alien to Christianity. This is how God has made us. And redemption in Christ, brothers and sisters, does not for a moment alter this fundamental shape of our humanity, of our being created as embodied creatures in the image of God. Indeed… creation is the very stuff of redemption. So I share with you a passionate commitment to the fact that Christ is Savior. That he has come to save. But one of the most critical questions in this kind of discussion is, what has he come to save, if not that which God has created? Without creation, there is no redemption. And redemption is a retrieval of God’s original purposes for Christians.”

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Center for Faith and Culture

The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture seeks to engage culture as salt and light, presenting the Christian faith and demonstrating its implications for all areas of human existence.

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