Culture and Grace

I learned something new today from Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: the fact that “Culture… is not just the site of human rebellion against God, not just the site of God’s judgment against sin, it is also the site of God’s mercy.” After Adam and Eve sinned they made coverings out of fig leaves, but God saw that such wouldn’t be enough to protect them from the dangers they would face outside the garden, so he replaces these with garments of skin. God in his mercy improves their culture. Also, it is surprising that, though the Bible story begins with a garden, it ends with a city – the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. As Crouch puts it:

In the remade world, the center of God’s creative delight is not a garden but a city. Somehow the city, the embodiment of concentrated human culture, has been transformed from the site of sin and judgment to the ultimate expression of grace, a gift coming ‘down out of heaven from God.’

I am reminded of the importance of having a redemptive, instead of an escapist, attitude towards the world – the city and culture. As a Christian, I am called by God to seek the good of the city.

… human culture’s darkest moments provoke not just God’s explicit and sorrowful judgment, they also prompt a cultural countermove, a new cultural artifact introduced by God into the story to protect human beings from the worst consequences of their choices. God never allows human culture to become solely the site of rebellion and judgment; human culture is always, from the very beginning, also marked by grace.

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