To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World

Synopsis

The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive--and provocative--answers to these questions. Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christian eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls "faithful presence" - an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real-life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practiceof "faithful presence." Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be. Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world.

Excerpt

The questions that animate this book are both broadly academic and deeply personal. the basic academic question is simply, how is religious faith possible in the late modern world? From this, of course, many others follow—Is it possible? How does the encounter of religious faith with modernity change the nature and experience of faith? Or, for that matter, modernity itself? These questions have puzzled scholars for several centuries and they will continue to do so long into the future.

The more personal question is a variant of the academic one; simply, how do believers live out their faith under the conditions of the late modern world? in searching for an answer to that question, one discovers endless complexity. As a Christian believer, I find many perplexing disparities between the Christian faith that I have come to know and what I see acted out in the world. Within those disparities, there are elements of irony and tragedy, but also assurance and possibility. (The reader will eventually discern that the title itself is ironic and yet also suggestive of latent possibility.) the three interconnected essays that make up this book are an attempt to make sense of these bewildering realities in a way that, I hope, will contribute to scholarship on these enduring questions as well as be useful for believers.

It is impossible to acknowledge the full debt I owe to so many for their help over the years. I have benefited enormously from the research assistance of Kristen Deede Johnson, Matthew Mutter, Patrick LaRochelle, Emily Raudenbush Gum, Robert Loftin, Heather Dill, Alan Faulkner and Julie Ryan. They have been able researchers and good friends and to each I am very grateful. I am profoundly grateful to Peter Berger, Chuck Mathewes, John Seel, Josh Yates, Nick Woltersorff, Christian Smith, Jeff Dill, Greg Thompson . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.