To Change the World

Feast of St Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter

Hunter_To_Change_the_World_Square.jpgHUNTER brings keen sociological insight to bear in these haunting reflections on the Christian impulse to change, transform, or redeem our troubled world. Such efforts are doomed to fail, Hunter argues, because American Christians often confuse culture with values, seek change on the periphery instead of within elite centers of power, and – most disastrously – embrace politics as the de facto vehicle of change. As in Culture Wars, Hunter finds shortcomings on both sides of the divine between Right and Left, and also in the approach of “neo-Anabaptists” like Stanley Hauerwas. For Hunter, the “iron” is that “values cannot be achieved politically because politics is inevitably about power” – and power is antithetical to Christian truth. (Although we may disagree with Hunter’s characterization of politics as “Constantinian temptation,” history offers many examples of power gone awry.) Hunter locates “tragedy” in the Christian tendency to cultivate a collective identity based on “a sense of injury to the faith,” a “negational” stance he finds ineffectual and alienating. His proposed alternative is “faithful presence” – an embrace of the great commission that would send believers out to serve the common good in every vocation, profession, and realm of modern life. Although Hunter sketches this alternative chiefly as “possibility,” Christian readers will find hope for engaging a world where old models no longer work. 

358 pp. cloth $31.95

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