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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Think Christianly" (Jonathan Morrow) - engagingchurchblogtour

TITLE: Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture
AUTHOR: Jonathan Morrow
PUBLISHER: Zondervan, 2011, (304 pages).

[This review is my participation in a blog tour organized by engagingchurchblog.com, for the period Apr 30th to May 4th, 2012]

This is an important contribution to help readers engage culture from a Christian perspective. Central to the author's conviction is the need for spiritual discernment of the culture we live in, and the active discipleship of our minds through active engagement with the questions asked by the culture. Through interviews with individual specialists, Morrow wisely seeks help from people who have been leaders in their respective fields. He does this by first making  a case for updating our Christian radar screen of the contemporary world. He then identifies certain morality traits of the new era, which is filled with complexity, confusion, consumerism, and negative perceptions of Christianity. His main concern revolves not on the bad press the Church or Christians are having, but in the lack of conviction among Christians to believe that the gospel is robust enough for modern times.

Part One talks about understanding the intersection between Christianity and the culture at large through cultural understanding, conviction of calling, and the task of equipping the Church. Morrow sets out four theological underpinnings of any cultural engagement:

  • We are kingdom citizens (in Christ)
  • We are everyday embassadors (for Christ)
  • We are to be creative image bearers (of Christ)
  • We are to cultivate a community of Radical Love (with Christ)

Equipping the next generation is not about meeting felt needs, but to take genuine feelings "and to make it felt."

Part Two is about engaging worldviews such as naturalism, postmodernism, theism, and others. Truth has to be rational, livable, and authoritative. Morrow gives readers a primer on how to do apologetics, gain knowledge, and to enable confident engagement with adequate knowledge. After all, Christianity has a rich knowledge tradition. Morrow also reminds us that Christianity is firstly about Christ, and any engagement must stem from this identity.

Part Three is the applications section that specifically deals with Church, relativism, Biblicism, Sex, Media, Injustice, Public Matters, Science, Bioethics, and Creation.

The Interviews

Randall Niles, a director at www.AllAboutGod.com and www.GotQuestions.org, talks about the need to engage the Internet generation through dialogue in the social networks. Kelly Monroe Kullberg, founder of the Veritas Forum talks about the need to seek truth in a secular world, to dispel wrong ideas of tolerance, and to affirm objective understanding of truth claims. Reggie Joiner shares about his "Think Orange" concept, that combines the light of the church (yellow) and the heart of home (red) to get a powerful orange. John Streetstone points out the deficiency of the Church in understanding the world. Paul Copan urges readers to learn to speak the truth in love as they engage the world of ideas. Alan Shlemon talks about engaging Islam through conversations around authority. Kyle Strobel talks about spiritual formation. Scott Klusendorf deals with the pro-life stance. Sean McDowell argues against Darwinism, but with a passionate awareness of the hurts and emotional baggages that many young people are carrying.

My Comments

This book is a mini-encyclopedia of cultural engagement. Interspersed with insights from the author and interviews with different experts on different matters, there is one central concern to be a knowledgeable and understanding witness for Christ in a world that is increasingly confusing, even for the Christian. This book provides at least three helpful ways to think Christianity. Firstly, it takes a snapshot of the culture, and to reference it back to the biblical model. This enables readers to learn from the biblical past as well as to capture contemporary mindsets. Secondly, it provides the way forward not only on how to engage, but also why we need to engage. This trains the reader to think critically and not simplistically about the culture. It is important not to be dismissive but respectful. Thirdly, this book gives resources to point interested readers to dig deeper. The resource pages of each chapter are valuable additions for anyone to dive in for research and for study purposes.

Culture is a complex entity to understand. There is no one view that can sufficiently deal with culture. Yet, there is a need to be centered on the biblical perspective. With "Think Christianly," the author has done a service for the Church by making the Church more culturally aware seven days a week, instead of living only one day a week in a Church building. More importantly, this book is about equipping the Church to be living disciples, and to be active witnesses, by beginning with a critical aspect of being a Christian: Think Christianly.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and the EngagingChurchBlog.com without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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