Andy Crouch speaks at Redeemer
Popular author gives the 2014 World and Our Calling Lectures
3 min. read
January 15, 2014

“It’s not fair,” said a member of the audience walking out of the Auditorium after listening to Andy Crouch speak at Redeemer. “No one person should be able to speak, sing and play piano that well.” Andy Crouch was the keynote speaker of the January 2014 The World and our Calling Lectures, and his lively and interactive talks generated a lot of that type of response. Andy is the author of the influential books “Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling” and “Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power,” and his two lectures provided thoughtful Christian critiques of culture and power. His insights, as well as his use of humour and his dynamic stage presence – which included weaving music throughout his presentations – kept the hundreds of students and guests who attended the lectures deeply engaged and involved. Turning Noise into Music: In his first lecture, Andy talked about culture, and in particular, what a Christian response to culture should be. “Why have we worked so hard to protect ourselves from culture?” he asked. “Rather than developing an immune system to it, shouldn’t we be engaging it?” His book Culture Making came from a desire to restore a “dysfunctional relationship” between Christians and culture. Instead of reacting to culture – condemning, copying or consuming it – Andy argued that the better way for Christians to approach culture is to create it, and if needed, thoughtfully critique it. He called Christians to get in front of culture making: “Culture is the things we make, but it’s not just about making things – it’s also about making sense of this beautiful, mysterious, wonderful, terrible world.” An accomplished pianist, Andy played some Bach, using it as a metaphor for cultural engagement. Bach put notes into chords, chords into music. “The world is full of sound, and sound is good, but only when image bearers come along does it become music. We are called to be cultural craftsmen – turning the noise into music.” Power and Purpose: The next lecture also started with music, but from a completely different perspective. Andy shared his experiences of learning later on in life to play cello: “It was an experience of powerlessness; humbling and humiliating.” When he first started, he noted, it was the teacher who had all the power. But instead of using that power to subdue Andy, the teacher used it to help him flourish. “And that,” said Andy, “is the original purpose of power for image-bearers – to help creation flourish.” Andy noted that the most common understanding of power in modern society – Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power, that everything wants to be master over all space and extend its force – is ultimately a desire to become like God. He contrasts that with a very different purpose of power for image-bearers: “All true beings want to create room for more being…to expend its power in the creation of flourishing environments for variety and life, and to thrust back the chaos that limits its true being.” The prevalent, negative view of power has led to injustice and idolatry, which Andy, echoing the prophet Isaiah, described as being inextricably intertwined. “At the root of poverty is that someone has played God with the life of others. The one ‘in power’ is trying to be a false god – he has all the authority; his image is exalted; the other image bearers no longer have an image of God.” “We can be hopeful, but not optimistic,” he concluded. “God has given us the power to restore the image-bearer, who is perfected in Christ. True power is to restore that image, where it has been lost; to restore to the world what it is ‘groaning’ for in Romans 8.” He concluded his lecture by singing a song that was written by his friends Jason Gray and Andy Gullahorn. I Will Find a Way tells the story of how Jesus, the most powerful creature in the cosmos, used his power by giving it up, in order to save us—the ultimate re-purposing of power.

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