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How Culture Changes: A Discussion of James Davidson Hunter's Thesis

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How Culture Changes: A Discussion of James Davidson Hunter's Thesis

This is part of our ongoing Christ and Culture series in which I address various Christian approaches to culture. In this episode, I discuss James Davidson Hunter's book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.' from video introduction.


"The publication of To Change the World marks a new phase in the career of a distinguished sociologist. The author of a half-dozen books on religion and American culture, James Hunter goes where few social scientists dare to tread: the frontier between sociological analysis and theological reflection. The result is essential reading for those called to be Christians in contemporary America. In the preface, he notes that the “questions that animate this book are both broadly academic and deeply personal” (ix). Though his previous works are rich in religious and ethical implications, they have steered clear of theology. Consistent with his mentor Peter Berger’s call for methodological atheism, he has focused on sociological description. This book is different...

..In To Change the World, Hunter argues, “what is required here is not a new ministry or a new program,” but “creative thinking, imagination, and hard work” (270). Fair enough. Yet this should not negate the contributions of existing programs and ministries. Though faithful presence must reach beyond existing institutions, Hunter should start by acknowledging what is already happening. While he includes some hopeful vignettes, they do not begin to capture the richness of Christian cultural engagement.

Despite this oversight, To Change the World provides a compelling analysis of Christianity in late modern society. Far from an isolated work, it is part of a wider conversation among Christian leaders. It is precisely the kind of book one would expect from a product of Christian higher education.." from the article: To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World





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