The post-Christian world we inhabit today presents us with a mundane and disenchanted view of reality. Under the sway of materialism and science, we have been left with a way of seeing, thinking, and living that has no place for beauty and wonder. We now live in a world bereft of magic and mystery.
Manyincluding many Christiansno longer perceive the world in its proper light. As a result, the Christian imagination is muted. Moreover, the church has grown anti-intellectual and sensate, out of touch with the relevancy of Jesus and how to relate the gospel to all aspects of contemporary life. As a result, the Christian voice is muted. In this age Christian wholeness remains elusive, blunting the church's ability to present a winsome and compelling witness for faith. As a result, the Christian conscience is muted.
Cultural Apologetics addresses this malaise by setting forth a fresh model for cultural engagement, rooted in the biblical account of Paul's speech on Mars Hill, which details practical steps for reestablishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination. Readers will be equipped to see, and help others see, the world as it isdeeply beautiful, mysterious, and sacred.
With creative insights, Cultural Apologetics prepares readers to share a vision of the Christian faith that is both plausible and desirable, offering clarity for those who have become disoriented in the haze of modern Western culture.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. What Is Cultural Apologetics?
The cultural apologist seeks to have missionary encounters by having a holistic understanding of the way nonbelievers perceive, think, and live in modern Western culture. This requires paying attention to the collective mind, conscience, and imagination of the culture, building bridges from culture to the gospel, and addressing barriers to the gospel along the way. In this chapter the what, why, and how of cultural apologetics will be explored. A model of cultural engagement, patterned after the apostle Paul’s speech in Athens, will be described. This model will be further unpacked in the remaining chapters.
Chapter 2. Disenchantment
The first task of the cultural apologist is to understand the surrounding culture. In this chapter I will explore the collective mindset, conscience, and imagination of Western culture and argue that it is best described as disenchanted. The world is no longer seen in its proper light. Instead of seeing reality as sacred and beautiful, it is often viewed as mundane, ordinary, and familiar. As a culture, we are “under a spell,” taking for granted life, beauty, goodness, and the holy instead of seeing them as gifts from their Creator. In this chapter I shall describe culture as primarily disenchanted, and within that understanding, I will describe its sensate and hedonistic characteristics as well.
Chapter 3. Re-enchantment
The world deadens desires by channeling them in a very limited direction, primarily the stream of sensual experience and (momentary) personal fulfillment. Many people don’t know they are missing anything. The second task of the cultural apologist, then, is to awaken desire. The world needs re-enchantment. The “otherness” and “giftedness” of reality needs to be seen afresh so that creation may be seen in relation to its divine source. An important starting point in this process of re-enchantment is to pay attention to universal human longings for truth, goodness, and beauty. We’ll explore how our longings point to something that we’ve lost, awaken our soul, and, if properly followed, lead us to God.
Chapter 4. Imagination
Human imagination will be our first guide to be explored, the first plank in the bridge from the cultureour “Athens”to the gospel and Jesus. It is, as C. S. Lewis puts it, “the organ of meaning.” Imagination provides, along with physical sensation, the raw materials for reason to judge as true or false. Imagination longs for a beauty that captivates. It seeksin literature, music, art, and naturetantalizing glimpses of Heaven, of a world made right, where everything is seen in its proper light, charged with grandeur, and imbued with a childlike, fresh wonder. In this chapter we’ll look at the role of imagination in the process of awakening desire, reenchanting the world, and pointing others to Christ.
Chapter 5. Reason
Human reason is our next guide or plank in the bridge between culture and the gospel.
Christianity is true, and it can be shown as such. In this chapter I shall look at reason by examining and defending the so-called Argument from Reason (defended recently by C. S.
Lewis, Victor Reppert, and Alvin Plantinga), and then look along reason by showing how the deliverances of philosophy, science, and history support the truth of Christianity. The look at/look along distinction is from C. S. Lewis’s essay “Meditation in a Tool Shed,” found in Walter Hooper ed., God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970).
Chapter 6. Conscience
The human conscience is our final guide or plank in our model of cultural engagement. As C. S. Lewis famously noted, all human beings acknowledge some kind of morality. We realize there is a moral law and that we stand condemned under it. In this chapter I shall explore the Argument from Morality and trace our longing for justice and wholeness to its fount in Christ.
Chapter 7. Home
In this final chapter I shall consider barriers to the gospel and then the gos