Salt and Light/ Matthew 5:13-16 by John Stott 

    A Case Study Note on This Sermon

    Dae Ryeong Kim did not quote from this sermon for his dissertation, but John Stott's points in this sermon well supports his methodological discussion.  The repeated and emphasized words and phrases in this sermon include: Penetrate or permeate into non-Christian society.  Donít underestimate the influence of Christian community.  Permeate non-Christian society.  Christians can challenge and influence non-Christian society. Permeate non-Christian society, but Retain Christian distinctiveness.  Uncompromised.  

    Applying his key words such as "Christian distinctiveness.  Uncompromised" to H. Richard Niebuhr's typologies, John R. W. Stott appears "at first" to belong to "Christ against Culture" position.  The "Christ against Culture" position insists on the opposition of the sacred to the profane. The ekklesia, or "calling out" inherents in the sacred (that which is set apart, beyond the horizon).  The weakness of this approach is that ultimately it leads to an otherworldly Christianity which can have minimal, if any impact on the world (2001:45-82).

    The same typology is adopted and named "opposition/minority status" by J. Andrew Kirk.  There is a growing body of opinion that conceives the churchís mission in terms of faithful opposition: not in the wholly negative sense of finding fault with every aspects of contemporary culture, but in the discerning attitude of providing a set of values, an intellectual perspective, and a community which offers a permanent alternative to current fashions.  The major hermeneutical key of such a position is the suspicion of idolatry on the part of institutions and intellectual trends.  The abandonment of the God of the prophetic initiative (explicit in all death-of-God pronouncements) is not a liberating act, but the submission to the greater slavery of intellectual and moral anarchy and arbitrariness.  Above all, the church must rigorously guard against all temptation to align itself with secular power, however sympathetic some programs and strategies may seem to be towards those values Christians would wish to defend (Kirk 1999:165-166).  This position seeks to offer a permanent alternative to current cultural fashions.

    While retaining this position, Stott emphasizes phrases such as "Penetrate or permeate into non-Christian society.  Donít underestimate the influence of Christian community.  Permeate non-Christian society.  Christians can challenge and influence non-Christian society."  This approach is what Niebuhr supports mostónamely, "Christ the Transformer of Culture."  This approach seeks after the permeation of all life by the immanent presence of divinityóby inviting the believer to manifest the Divine within culture.

    The same typology is adopted and named "opposition/minority status" by Kirk While also wishing to eschew the exercise of power qua church, this position believes that the main assumptions of contemporary Western culture, whether in its modern or postmodern appearance, need not only to be challenged but also to be replaced.  Christians, individually and collectively, are encouraged to work within institutions for new attitudes toward human life which reflect the way of Christ.  In other words, the goal of Christian mission is to seek a culture and society that, in every way, mirrors more closely the new resurrected order inaugurated by Jesus Christ (1999:166).  


+  © copyrights information:  John Stott preached this sermon at Wheaton College, and the date is assumed to be early in 1980's.  Ten years later Christianity Today categorized this sermon within the group of  "preaching for social issues."  But it is noted that this preaching better fit into the "Gospel and Culture" category.  This  audio clip is digitally recorded by Dae Ryeong Kim for personal study help and reference.  Additional copyright information unavailable at this time.