Mark Dever’s Reservations about Cultural Transformation

I plan on blogging about this in the near future, but for now I wanted to post a video interview with Ed Stetzer and Mark Dever where they discuss Dever’s 2008 T4G talk about the “largeness” of the gospel.  The differences on defining the gospel among conservative (even Reformed) evangelicals is pretty clear and certainly controversial.  Watch the video and let me know your thoughts.

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3 Comments on “Mark Dever’s Reservations about Cultural Transformation”

  1. Matt Svoboda Says:


    It is good to hear Dever say that he does understand that gospel can be used in a larger sense. Before this, I thought he denied that and thought gospel was only God-Man-Christ-Response.

    When hearing this, it seems to me that their is actually quite a bit of similarities between the two camps- Keller & Dever. The emphasis just seems to be different. Although, there is a definite difference when when Dever says he doesnt see “redeeming culture” language in Scripture and obviously Keller does.

    I feel like I am stuck in between the two camps. I don’t at all see the “culture being redeemed” in Scripture before the Second Coming. Yet, I do see God’s call to those in the Kingdom of God to do “redemption work.” So, while I think the work that Keller is insisting on is right, I also think Dever is right in that the New Testament seems very clear that things are going to get worse and worse until Christ comes backs, when he does come back ALL THINGS will be renewed. Maranatha!

    So, is it inconsistent to be a “pessimistic amillennial” and to believe the church MUST do the Kingdom work?

    Admittedly, while I agree with the work that goes into “redeeming the culture” I don’t necessarily like the “redeeming the culture” language. We won’t redeem the culture, the culture is going to get much worse until Christ comes back and when he does HE will redeem the culture.

    In redeeming the NT and especially Revelation I dont see the work of the church resulting in cultures being renewed. What I do see is gospel proclamation accompanied by good works.

    Thanks for this post Timmy. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but never had discussed it out. I’m hoping to do it here!

  2. Reg Schofield Says:

    We had this discussion in one of our studies at my home church. Within our group ,I was one of the only voices that did not believe it is the churches mandate to redeem the culture.

    We are to be salt and light , to do good to our neighbors , to love ,to forgive , to preach Christ and him crucified as the only hope to a sinful and rebellious world. Ultimately for God’s glory . Will this have benefits to the surrounding culture , of course but I just do not see a clear mandate in scripture to redeem the culture. In fact I think if that becomes our focus as Dever warns , we can take our eyes off the very thing that transforms , the cross of Christ.

    Paul in all his zeal , seemed to me be concerned about justice yes but ultimately his focus was on Jesus and the message of our utter inability to save ourselves , our position of children of wrath before a holy God and how in Christ , his life,death and resurrection we are redeemed. Faithfulness to that message took precedence over redeeming Roman culture.

    Plus as I look to how world will react to Christ , the one consistent reaction is hate and revulsion. Those who believe in a over achieved eschatology perhaps think you can redeem the culture but I do not see in the word a time when the culture of man will be anything but hostile to the things of God.

    The world may like the fact Churches do many good works but the moment Jesus is brought into the mix , watch the reaction .Until Jesus comes again , persecution and animosity will be here .

  3. Caleb Says:

    I’m not sure we all mean the same thing by “redeeming culture.” Dever seems to be rejecting the idea in terms of “bringing heaven to earth by Christianizing every human institution.” I’d reject that, too.

    In terms of missiology, we talk about “redeeming culture” in the sense of using indigneous story, memory, art, and communication to communicate the gospel. In this case, redeeming the culture isn’t “converting” it, but rather highlighting the truth (perhaps echoes, shadows, distortions of truth) in culture and tying them back to God’s truth.

    I wonder what Dever would think about this?

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