One of my favorite quotations is from Abraham Kuyper, the Christian statesman who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in the early twentieth century. He said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Recently I discussed on this blog what my colleague Dr. Darrell Holley has referred to as the “Kuyper Option” for how Christians should relate to culture. I believe the Kuyper Option is just what we need today in our increasingly secularized culture.
Kuyper—standing on the shoulders of Christians like John Calvin and John Wesley—stood firmly on the belief that Christians should be in the world and not of the world. He believed that we should be radically distinct from the world in our attitudes, values, and priorities, which are shaped by a kingdom which is alien to this world—the kingdom of Christ. Yet he believed just as strongly that we must be transforming the culture, influencing it with the attitudes, values, and priorities of the kingdom, as much as is within our power.
Now more than ever, we need to employ this approach. Now is not the time to put our heads in the sand, as the conservative Protestant movement did in the wake of the Scopes Trial in the early twentieth century, when Protestant Liberalism had come into dominance in American religious life. While we may be critical of some efforts at social change by the religious right, we must not therefore give up on the need to engage in cultural transformation.
My friend Dr. Eddie Moody and I have been discussing these things frequently of late—things he discusses in his new book Surviving Culture: When Character and Your World Collide, which has two editions—one for students and another for parents, youth leaders, etc. We recently have read and discussed what I think is an important little book that can help pastors and youth leaders discuss Christianity and culture with church members: Bruce Riley Ashford’s Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians.
What is wonderful about this book is that it lays out a Christian foundation for understanding how to relate to culture that general readers can understand. The book is not just about engagement in political activity (although it includes that). It’s about taking up the cultural mandate or creation mandate from Genesis and bowing to the Lordship in the whole of life—private and public. This includes the political and legal sphere as well as the arts and sciences, education, healthcare, the marketplace—indeed every sphere of culture.
Dr. Moody recently met with Dr. Ashford, Provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and interviewed him. I encourage my readers to visit Dr. Moody’s blog and listen to his interview with Bruce Riley Ashford. Then, go out and buy several copies of Every Square Inch and share them with the leaders and influencers around you.