Christ and Culture by Richard Niebuhr is considered a timeless classic. The book addresses the relationship between Christianity and civilization and presents five ways in which the church has approached this relationship. The five approaches are: Christ Against Culture; The Christ of Culture; Christ Above Culture; Christ and Culture in Paradox and Christ the Transformer of Culture.
Christ Against Culture affirms a complete separation between one’s loyalty to Christ and one’s loyalty to cultural society. Christians are encouraged to remain separate from culture and Christ is seen as one who opposes the customs of society and all achievements that humanity makes. This viewpoint sees people willing to abandon their homes, property and government protection for the sake of honouring Christ. In The Christ of Culture, affirmation is given to culture. Christ and culture is melded together. There is no great tension between church and the world and the work of Christ is seen as the training of men in their present social existence for the better life to come, often he is regarded as the great educator, sometimes as the great philosopher or reformer. Christ Above Culture recognises that culture is good and that Christ came to enhance culture. It presents a way in which Christ is sees as a part of culture and yet he is also outside of culture as one who sustains it. Christ and Culture in Paradox espouse that there is a tension between Christ and culture; Christians are to strive to be in the world but not of the world. There is recognition to be loyal to Christ and responsible for culture. The danger is that one in their loyalty to Christ would lose the ability to say something of worth to the culture. Christ the Transformer of Culture describes a hopeful conversion type view toward culture. Christ came to redeem culture and creation from a fallen state that was very good. Christians work with God to accomplish the transformation of culture. There is recognition that there is sin in culture, yet all is not lost because there is hope through Christ, for redemption of cultures.