Culture Making and Plant Growing | 9 Marks

August 14, 2009 — 3 Comments

Greg Gilbert does an excellent job of providing a parallel analogy in order to show the relative strength over at the 9 Marks Blog in his post discussing a review of Crouch’s Culture Making.

I haven’t read Culture Making, and therefore have no basis for whether or not Gilbert’s conclusions about the book are correct, but I enjoyed how he uses clear thought to demonstrate why we should think clearly about how an author proves a point.

Again, this post is in no way an attempt to validate Gilbert’s conclusions or to vilify the work of the incredibly intelligent Andy Crouch, but more to look at Gilbert’s clever use of parallel analogy in making his case.

The quote is below:

“when he tries to convince us that culture is central to the biblical storyline, and the evidence amounts to facts such as that Adam and Eve made clothes (making something of the world!), Noah made a boat, Acts has alot of cities in it, and the heavenly Jerusalem is encrusted with cut gems rather than raw minerals (again, human craft-work), isn’t that an example of elevating incidentals to an importance they were never meant to have?

I mean, if I really put my mind to it, I think I could make a case—very similar to the one Crouch makes that Scripture is about “culture”—that actually, the Scriptural story is about……plants.  It’s plants and more plants, all the way down.

Think about it.  The first living things in the world are plants.  Adam and Eve are placed in a garden (full, one assumes, of plants) and their sin is fundamentally about the misuse of plants (right?).  Not only so, but it is a plant, the fig, to which they turn when they want to try to cover up their sin.  The tabernacle was made out of wood, which at least started out as a plant, and plant products were central to the rituals of the sacrificial system.  Noah’s ark was made out of plants, as was that other arc, and Jesus himself for the first thirty years of his life (10/11ths!) was a plant-products-craftsman.  And then, lo and behold, on what does Jesus die?  Yep, a plant—or at least what used to be a plant, a tree.  The apostles travel on boats made of plant products.  And for that matter, what do the women mistake the risen Christ of being?  A gardener! (Plants again.)  And then, what is the climax of the New Testament?  The river of life, flanked on either side by—you guessed it!—large plants!!

Amazing, isn’t it, how central plants are to the Bible’s story.  Obviously God loves plants, and therefore obviously he wants his people to be careful, attentive, passionate plant-growers.  That’s our calling.

Right?

Read the whole thing here.

This is a great reminder that although what we read may sound right on, upon further investigation it can be made to be completely foolish.  We ought to heed the words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14-15:

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Rightly handling the word of truth means trying diligently to say what Scripture says, and understand what it means without twisting it into an opinion loosely informed by Scripture.  Careful and precise reading and thinking are important when seeking understanding of the Word of God!

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

3 responses to Culture Making and Plant Growing | 9 Marks

  1. Gilbert’s literary techniques are interesting, but from what I’ve read of Culture Making thus far, his remarks are pretty off base. He’s taken Crouch’s careful, thoughtful treatment of God’s and our hand in creating and affecting culture and responded with a trite, sarcastic, off-the-cuff response.

    That said, I think the larger point you make is a good one… we need to consider words for more than how they sound, but measure them against greater truth.

    • Thanks for the insight into the book…I wasn’t really making a statement on whether I thought he was accurate or not, but more so in how he approached his critique. He does a fairly good job of praising Crouch for his clear thinking earlier on in his post, which dampens a lot of the sarcasm you inferred.

      I edited the post to make sure that I’m not making a statement either way about Crouch’s book. Hope it helps!

  2. Thanks Todd… in my previous comment I mainly wanted to make sure that people that don’t click back to read Greg’s whole post (and to a lesser extent even those that do), don’t dismiss Crouch’s work out of hand. I think he has some really important things to consider.

    Again, though, great post on your part. Really important stuff to consider.

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