Bad conscience is rampant in the church, asserts Julian Hartt. There is the feeling that the church has mislead the contemporary world by its own commitment to archaic symbols and outworn attitudes. It has continued to endorse and defend a system of values that has eroded almost past recognition.
Dr. Hartt shows how this acute anxiety over bad conscience prompts the radical reorientation of Christian thinking identified as theology of culture. The heralds of the New Morality have not been reluctant to point this out, and to demand from the church a fairly severe penance: a readiness to give up the ghost if it cannot secularize its Gospel without reservation or residue. But, the author says, the church cannot do this faithfully if it simply looks piously to the past, hopeful to heaven, and with good old American optimism to the future.
In this timely and fresh theology of culture for the American situation, the author shows that a deep concern for contemporary culture is an elementary and indispensable part of authentic Christian theological reflection. The revelation of God in Jesus Christ, he contends, gives us both a foundation and a critical posture for the assessment of the world in which we live.
Dr. Hartt points out that the initial foothold for Christian theological work is a certain criticism of contemporary life. This will demonstrate what the Christian believes God is and what God demands of him and of all men, whether or not they are Christian or are even religious in any ordinary sense. He then goes on to delineate sketches of what he feels are the chief claims of the Christian faith, and what are key realms of culture.