Tim Keller gives a helpful, short lecture on cultural engagement, a summary of Chapter 5 in his book Center Church. While the lecture is geared toward building and applying a model for church ministry, there are profound similarities with how we think about culture here at Christ and Pop Culture. Whether a downtown NYC church, a Christian starving artist, or a website like ours, Keller provides resources that well articulate the ideals we strive for in our model of reading culture through the lens of Christ – one lens among many.

I highly recommend you watch the video, but if you can’t, the most valuable thing you can do is download this chart (which is the foundation for his thought), print it out, and wherever your own approach to culture falls on the chart, keep looking toward the center.


  1. sigh… Reformed Two Kingdom is not the same as the Lutheran Two Kingdom. Reformed Two Kingdom is closer to Theonomic Reconstructionism but differs to some degree. Reformed Two Kingdom is not church and state but believers and unbeliever and both church and state are in the Kingdom of God and Reformed Two Kingdom holds to a distinctive worldview like Theonomic Reconstrucitonism. Reformed Two Kingdom would be better apt Covenanter Theonomy since we do differ from Theonomic Reconstructionism. So I find this chart incorrect.

    All one needs to do is actually read the historic Reformed authors. Beza, Bucer in De Regno Christi, and many others. Westminster divines such as George Gillespie or Samuel Rutherford, and the whole historic Covenanter church of Scotland in whom wrote dozens of books on the subject. The Subjection of kings and nations to Messiah, 1819; Messiah the Prince, 1884; The Two Son of Oil, 1803; Messiah Governor of the Nations of the Earth, 1803, A Hind let Loose, 1687, and the Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761. Many others could be sited.

  2. I really don’t see how the historic Reformed and Covenanter position can fit on his map. We have a full degree of every category except social relevance in which we have none.

    The Covenanter position confirms common grace and confirms that the Earth will improve until all nations bows down to Christ and obey Him but also believes that the world is currently in darkness and cruelity until some future time. At the same time we believe that the Gospel will tranform the culture and that every square inch of the Earth belongs to Christ. All Power and all Authority on Earth has been given over to Christ (Matthew 28), this is known as the mediatorial reign of Christ whereby church and state submit to Christ. The Covenanter position denies the social gospel whereby we improve society beyond the laws of God (prohibition and prohibitionist era comes to mind) and the Covenanter position believes we should not fellowship and work with the workers of darkness. Thus we believe in political dissent with wicked governments and not recognizing them. In that we are passive but believe there are others way to effect change thus believe in active influencing of society.

    1. Hey Mikhael,

      I’m just taking a swing at this, but could the Covenanter position (I love Gillespie, btw) be under the “Distinct Worldview” category within the “Blended Insights” portion of the quadrant? Surely each view holds to the values of the others to a certain degree, unless you would want to make the case that the Westminster Standards are located smack dab at the middle of the chart, which I suppose every view would want to claim (in wanting to claim balance).

      What do you think?

  3. By facing the center, what Keller is suggesting is what Martin Luther King Jr practiced and suggested. When he encountered different approaches and sometimes antithetical approaches, he synthesized the best of each school of thought and filtered out the worst. Such an approach should help us from becoming like the Pharisee from Jesus’ parable of the two men praying. Another strength here is the idea of one as they enter the center, doing so with mobility depending on a number of factors.

    However, the gathered Church needs to do the same and speak officially as a whole against injustice even if that injustice is not a part of their own specific locational context. The reason why the Church must do this is because of what those on the Left know, that isolation makes working for justice impotent. Solidarity across borders is what enables a peaceful working for justice. Isolation weakens the working for justice and perceived weakness lends itself to desperation and an ends justifies the means mentality.

    However, in working for justice, the Church can’t be equated with any one political or economic school of thought and thus become a tool and the Gospel be equated with a particular political or economic system.

    How can the Church do both? It can do so by spending more time speaking out against specific injustices while presenting multiple perspectives on how the injustices can be remedied and encouraging people to synthesize those perspectives and then listen to how people are synthesizing.

    The point here is that some issues demand more attention than what the Scattered Church can provide.

    1. It is the job of the Church to testify all of God’s law before kings and princes and tell them to do their job as defined in the word of God.

      ” I will speak also of thy testimonies before Kings, and will not be ashamed.” (Psalm 119:46)

      “Be wise now therefore, ye kings: be learned ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice in trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, when his wrath shall suddenly burn. Blessed are all that trust in him.” (Psalm 2:10-12)

      Gospel and Law are not mutually exclusive and must be held in balance. We are to obey the command of the scriptures to believe but we are also to love and obey God’s law and meditate upon it night and day. The continuity of scripture must be stressed. To sacrifice Gospel or Law is to sacrifice the whole of Scripture. Antinomianism and Legalism must always be avoided. To place a dichotomy between Gospel and Law is to place a false dichotomy.

      Yes, we have the Great Commission and that is the function of the church (which includes “teaching all nations everything I commanded you” which is all things found written in all of holy Scripture including the role and function of magistrates) but in addition to the Great Commission we (society) have a Dominion mandate which has not been rescinded. Both were required in the Old Testament and both are required in the New Testament.

      The magistrate is ‘Custos utriusque Tabulæ’, the keeper of both Tables of the law .

      Westminster divine George Gillespie stated,

      “Now that the Christian Magistrate is bound to observe these Judicial laws of Moses which appoint the punishments of sins against the Moral law, .. by these reasons. 1. If it were not so, then it is free and arbitrary to the Magistrate to appoint what punishments himself pleaseth. But this is not arbitrary to him, for he is the Minister of God, Rom. 13.4. and the judgment is the Lord’s, Deut. 1.7; 2 Chron. 19.6. And if the Magistrate be Keeper of both Tables, he must keep them in such manner as God hath delivered them to him. ” -Wholesome Severity Reconciled, George Gillespie-1644

      Justice is not arbitrary and Justice is not based on our sin-tainted understanding.

  4. Mikhael,
    First, your emphasis on the dominion mandate should tell you where your theology fits on the map. Certainly, the map is not perfect, but it is adequate to answer your questions.

    Second, we don’t have dominion mandate over people in the NT. This is evident in how both Jesus and Paul regard society in that those who cannot be members in good standing in the Church are assigned to society with no further Church sanctions. Rather, we are called to imitate Jesus in His first coming until He comes again.

    None of the above diminishes what we preach. But we must realize that with the Great Commission, by being called to make disciples of all nations, God’s people are not associated with any single nation. When we include that with Paul and Jesus’ view of society, we see a different set of expectations being placed on those who desire to be in good standing in society while we preach the Gospel and their response determines whether they are accepted into the visible Church.

    Finally, perhaps we should note where the Reformers made mistakes especially in terms of their attempt to obligate the Civil magistrates to follow mandates that determine those who are to be members in good standing in the Church. We should note the cultural differences between then and now that led past Reformers into a more Constantinian Christianity.

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