Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Calvinistic Concept of Culture

How should a Christian live in a secular world?

That is the subject that was explored at some depth in a book by Henry R. van Til, first published in 1959. In the book The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, he presented the vital issue of the relationship between religion and culture. The author used the term culture to designate "that activity of man, the image-bearer of God, by which he fulfills the creation mandate to cultivate the earth, to have dominion over it, and to subdue it." Culture, therefore, is removed from a totally secular context, and is placed instead in the arena of Christian activity and influence, constructively viewed from a biblical perspective. The book unfolded both the historical development and the [then] contemporary implications of the Calvinistic framework of culture and theology. Though written 45 years ago, the lessons in it are just as relevant today as they were in 1959.

I read this book during the mid 1970s, and looking back over the past 30 years, I suppose it considerably influenced my own thinking about work during the development of my career as an engineer.

Additional information: (added 2005-05-22)

The Calvinistic Concept of Culture is now available as a free download (3.5 MB) in Acrobat .pdf format from the Contra Mundum web-site.