Ward on Culture and Theology

From Graham Ward‘s Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice:

“The theologian can only understand the faith held and practised by the Christian Church, the theological task this enjoins and the people to whom this task is addressed through what is culturally and historically available.  The theo-logic of theology itself, the faith that seeks understanding, is then constituted in a cultural negotiation between the revelation of Christ to the Church (rooted in Scriptures, the sacraments and the tradition of their interpretation and application) and the ‘signs of the times’…And so Christian theology must continually examine its place in the world in order to be able to recognise itself and carry  forward the tradition of its revelation based claims”.

“There is also a twofold understanding of theology’s relationship to culture.  On the one hand, it is critical because the cultural is an expression and a development of the fallen, the foundry in which so may idols and fetishes are cast to keep human beings from coming to terms with the violence, anger and alienation being perpetrated.  On the other, it is the only place in which the human create can come to a recognition of a more glorious possibility.  ‘The term culture connotes exactly that promise to man: fulfillment, unity, wholeness within his sphere as a creature, as man, exactly as God in his sphere in fullness, wholeness, Lord over nature and spirit, Creator of heaven and earth’ (here Ward is quoting Barth from Theology and the Church). As that eschatologically informed sphere, theology speaks to and in and through the cultural of a promised and operative reconciliation; a resurrection life not just beyond this world in some post-mortem realm bu in this world as this world’s concealed [mysterion] reality.  The speaking of such a transfiguring hope, which issues from an equally fundamental judgement, is a speaking in the name of, and working in and out of faith to faith.  It is this working that locks the theologian into the operation of the eternal in the temporal, which is at the eschatological heart of participation in Christ”.

And, of course, there is the opposing view of theology by the so-called “Young, Restless, and Reformed”, nicely summarized in this picture:

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