The Week in Books 2009, No. 16

In Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity
apologist S. Michael Craven posits that Christians have become so conformed to our culture that we have ceased to have significant meaningful impact on the world for Christ. Craven calls on Christians to understand the ways in which we are influenced by our times, and choose instead to be counter-cultural, not merely for the sake of being “different” or as an anachronistic throw-back, but as a witness to the transforming power of the Gospel. Condemning the widespread anti-intellectualism of Western Christianity, Craven points out that in 1 Peter 3:15 Christians are commanded to understand our culture in order to engage it, and suggests that the command in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “take every thought captive” is not merely a recommendation for personal holiness, but also a charge to understand the philosophies and beliefs that keep others from knowledge of the truth.

The first part of Craven’s book examines the ideas that permeate our culture and how those affect the way Christians see the world as well. I imagine that most Christians would find quite a few points of conviction in the chapters on the philosophies of modernism and post-modernism, as well as (or perhaps most particularly) the one on consumerism. Craven challenges readers to consider how (if at all) our ways of thinking and making decisions differ from those who do not believe in Christ. He points out that in many ways our thinking is shaped by cultural influences more than God’s word. I found the first section of the book to be the stronger of the two parts, and wish that Craven had expanded on his conclusions in the first section rather than tacking on the second.

The second part of the book deals with social issues and movements that Christians don’t explain very well or don’t understand well enough to really be like Christ in that situation. The section was a good overview of several issues, but didn’t seem to fit as closely with the stated focus of the book (overcoming our culturalized Christianity) and I felt that in most cases those issues are dealt with well and at greater length and depth in other sources. I don’t think Craven necessarily got anything wrong in his second section, but again I don’t feel it was as strong as the first part, or even really necessary to his thesis.

Overall, I’d recommend this book for the strength of the first section.

Note: NavPress sent me a copy of this book for my review. You can read the NavPress page for the book here, and read Amazon reviews here.

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