American culture is shifting to an era in which religion is not necessarily seen as a social good. Some Christian leaders will tell us the sky is falling. Moore says the increasing marginalization of Christianity offers an opportunity to reclaim the gospel vision. Christianity is being liberated from American culture. The “otherness” of the gospel must be proclaimed as Christians have an opportunity to reclaim their witness as strangers and exiles.
“A Christianity that is without friction in the culture is a Christianity that dies.” Our calling, Moore says, is engaged alienation, preserving the distinctiveness of our gospel while fulfilling our call to be neighbors, friends, and citizens.
I really appreciated Moore's review of Christian values and how they were popular in American culture, even if the actual gospel was not. Now, however, those values are being rejected. Other insights he relates includes evangelism. It used to center on heaven and finding meaning in life. Those issues are not effective any more. I really liked his writing about the covenant relationship of God and Israel and clarifying that God has no covenant relationship with the U.S. He also points out the disparity between what the church preaches and how the congregants really live. And those are just a few of the issues Moore covers.
This book is a real wake up call to Christians. It is a call to no longer settle for an “almost” gospel. Moore does not skirt issues. He attacks them head on with the clarity of the gospel message, asking Christians to live who they are in Christ. Reading this book might disrupt a few pet ideas, but I think they need disrupting. “We are not slouching toward Gomorrah;” Moore writes, “we are marching to Zion.”
I urge pastors, church boards, and small groups to read this book and discuss the issues in it. These topics need to be studied so training can be done for decisions necessary in the future. A small group study guide is available.
Food for thought: “The shaking of American culture is no sign that God has given up on American Christianity. In fact, it may be a sign that God is rescuing American Christianity from itself.”
Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a frequent cultural commentator, an ethicist and theologian by background, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He is the author of several books. He and his wife have five sons. Find out more at www.russellmoore.com.
B&H Publishing Group, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.