Are We Trying to Change the World?

I am intrigued by a new book by James Davison Hunter called To Change the Word: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. I just read a summary of the book and an interview with Hunter in Christianity Today (May 2010). He argues that the common evangelical goal of changing the world or transforming the culture is not really the goal of the church. Furthermore, even if it were, the current strategy of the church to do so will not work because it is built on a misunderstanding of how culture works. Instead of culture being derived from ideas and culture only (the common views), it is also built upon "elites, networks, technology, and new institutions." Hunter argues that the church depends too heavily upon politics in its current attempt to influence the world. Instead, the strategy of the church for cultural engagement is what Hunter calls "faithful presence." The goals of this engagement is to make disciples and serve the common good.

The interview with Hunter was very impressive. He seems to have a good understanding of culture and addresses many of the issues of mainline Christian cultural engagement that I have been uncertain about. I look forward to reading this.