The problem has challenged the Church during her entire existence: How are Christians to engage and relate to the surrounding culture? How should we then live? What does it look like to be in the world but not of it?
H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic book, Christ and Culture, has influenced or at least informed the discussion, notably among Western evangelicals, since it was published in 1951. Niebuhr proposed five models, which he labelled as 1) Christ against culture; 2) Christ of culture; 3) Christ above culture; 4) Christ and culture in paradox; and 5) Christ the transformer of culture.
1. Christ against culture
Christ against culture occupies one extreme of the continuum. All expressions of culture outside the Church are viewed with a high degree of suspicion and as irreparably corrupted by sin. They are to be withdrawn from and avoided as much as possible. Traditional ascetic communities as well as various sectarian and fundamentalist groups would hold to some version of this view.
2. Christ of culture
Christ of culture sits at the polar opposite from the previous one. Cultural expressions as a whole are accepted uncritically and celebrated as a good thing. In theory, little or no conflict is seen between culture and Christian truth. In practice, the latter is compromised to accommodate the former. This is the view espoused by classic Gnosticism and liberal Protestantism.
Christian nihilism is the belief that human judgment is, specifically, an immoral imposition of the will on other people (that is, the culture). So interpretation of other people’s behavior as moral or immoral is not just impossible, it’s also wrong. This is what I’ve decided to name the spirit behind radical nonjudgmentalism.
It is generally applied as tactical nihilism, as are the more generalized forms of nihilism. An eventual consequence of Christian nihilism is Christian fatalism, which is the belief that nothing we do matters because God decides all outcomes (you know, like Allah).