Posted by: Yvonne | January 21, 2009

Keep Your Eye on the Ball!

Sports, in America, have always been a popular pasttime.  In my family, the sport of choice was tennis.  From an early age I remember spending evenings and weekends on the court being coached by my parents, high school coaches or private teachers. 

tennisball-racketThere was one constant command that all tennis coaches continually remind their students: 

“Keep your eye on the ball!”

By keeping your eye on the ball you can make the most accurate shots, place the ball farther away from your opponent,  give it a slice, or lob it over your opponents head.

When you fail to watch the ball all sorts of problems arise.  You could miss the ball entirely or hit it into the net giving your opponent a free point. 

Keeping your eye on the ball is one of the most important rules of tennis.  I could not help but think of tennis as I read the second portion of Andy Crouch’s Culture Making

Part Two is this book is titled, ‘Gospel.’   By the end of it, I felt like Crouch had taken his eye off the ball.  Here’s what I mean…

Crouch begins chapter six, ‘The Garden and the City,’ by calling the Bible a ‘cultural good.’  He explains what he means by saying,

“The Bible is itself a manifold collection of cultural artifacts–poetry, history, proverbs, letters and songs–written and compiled over one thousand years, and like all the most influential cultural goods it has in turn spurred endless human creativity.”  (pg. 101)

Right away Crouch has lost sight of the ball.  If the Bible is a product of culture then man is responsible for its contents.  Just like any other book what is written on the pages has no power over anybody. 

Remember, Paul tells Timothy in his second epistle, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”  (ch.2 v. 16).   The words of Scripture are ‘God-breathed’ not created by men.  While I am sure Crouch believes this to be true, by calling the Bible a cultural good he undermines the power of God’s Word and gives people ‘wiggle room’ when it comes to being accountable to the commands within Scripture.

Moving on to a short overview of this section, it is broken down into six chapters and an interlude.  Crouch takes his readers from the Garden of Eden to the Revelation of Jesus.  He theorizes that God is the creator of culture; man is made in God’s image, therefore, men are creators of culture. 

This book is an attempt to point my fellow Christians toward new, and also very old, directions for understanding our calling in culture.  (pg. 10)

If culture is what human beings make of the world, we’d expect to find our first clues when human beings take their place in the world’s unfolding drama.   (pg.102)

So when the human beings, male and female, are created “in God’s image,”  surely the primary implication is that they will reflect the creative character of their Maker.  Genesis 1 suggests several marks of that character that the divine image-bearers might reflect.  (pg. 104)

 Notice his opinion, ‘the primary implication.’   This is another stroke where Crouch has taken his eye off of the ball.  Crouch is proposing that God made man to create culture; that ‘God’s intention’ is ‘about humanity’s call to culture.’  (pg. 105, 107)  Using more opinions to support this theory, we find this incredible miss hit:

God’s first and best gift to humanity is culture.  (pg.110)

 

Throughout this entire section of the book we find Crouch attempting to support his opinions by inserting Scripture where it seems to fit. 

For example, when Adam and Eve sinned they attempted to cover their bodies with fig leaves.  Crouch speculates that this shows ‘how deeply culture is embedded in the human character.’  (pg.114)

Another ‘massive cultural project’ is the Tower of Babel.  (pg. 116)

And let’s not forget ‘the primal cultural gift’ of language.  (pg. 117)

The rest of part two of Culture Making is a continuation of Crouch presenting his thesis that men were meant to create culture.  From fig leaves and language to a ‘functioning social network’ of ‘solving challenges’ of society, Christians have been ‘culturally creative,‘ and ‘innovative.‘  (pg. 157)  In the end we find in Revelation that God is going to redeem everything anyway, “every cultural artifact will have to undergo a radical transformation of some sort–”  (pg.169) so he suggests,

We should ask the same question about our own cultural creativity and cultivating. Are we creating and cultivating things that have a chance of furnishing the new Jerusalem?   (pg.171)

There is no doubt that man creates culture.  However, is this the reason God created the universe? the earth? human beings?  It is my contention that Crouch’s ‘primary implication’ is wrong.  God did NOT create man for the primary purpose of creating culture even if it does bring glory to Him.

Crouch’s theory shifts our focus away from the Almighty God and puts it squarely in man’s court.  Man becomes the center court in the tournament of culture.  All eyes are on man instead of God. 

wimbledon-center-court

Keep your eye on the ball!

 

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  1. […] Part 2: Keep Your Eye on the Ball […]


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