So this is the book I read on my summer vacation: To Change the World by James Davison Hunter
Hunter summarizes his target in the first chapter. It is the widely and deeply held belief that if individuals have the right values, beliefs, and ideas, the aggregation of those people will have a ‘culture’ that reflects their values, beliefs, and ideas. So if you want a good ‘culture’, put good values, beliefs, and ideas in people. This strategy drives churches, non-profits, families, schools… And Dr. Hunter thinks it is wrong.
According to Hunter, here is how the strategy plays out. We wrongly believe that:
1. cultural transformation is brought about by personal transformation. (ie, if you get enough people ‘saved’ [personal transformation], they will change the world)
2. cultural change can be willed into being. (therefore the political process is critical to cultural change– passing laws that support right belief and behavior)
3. cultural change is democratic (ie, it occurs from the bottom up– anybody can do it)
At the end of the day, the message is clear: … if you have the courage and hold to the right values and if you think Christianly with an adequate Christian worldview, you too can change the world. This account is almost wholly mistaken.
Maybe this teaser will get you to read the book. I am excited to finish it and mull over his arguments. I am sure there will be things with which I disagree, but things that will stretch me and our church as well.
Especially if you are involved in politics, legislation, or culture-shaping, I highly recommend your engagement with Dr. Hunter this summer.
The theology of our music
I said a few weeks ago that it is through preaching and singing in our corporate worship that we let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly– that we are filled with the Spirit. Thus our songs are REALLY important.
I love this verse from yesterday:
Finish, then, Thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory, till in heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.
These words express what we are about as a church– longing for God to finish His new creation, for Him to restore(!) all things. As I grow up (it’s debatable, I know) I grow in my thanksgiving that this is not all there is. There is a coming day when He will make all things new, when the stories will be shown to be true, when pain will end, and we will see Him face to face. If that is what I am singing and living for, it changes my posture towards everything I face.
Help us wait with patience and do all we can to manifest your coming Kingdom.