Why not a book or set of essays on these topics? Why do Christians instead feel compelled to write books like these?
How should Christians approach important contemporary issues like war, race, creation care, gender, and politics?
Christians in every culture are confronted with social trends and moral questions that can be difficult to navigate. But, the Bible often doesn’t speak directly to such issues. Even when it does, it can be confusing to know how best to apply the biblical teaching.
In Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues authors Joshua D. Chatraw and Karen Swallow Prior first offer a broadly accessible framework for cultural engagement and then explore specific hot topics in current Western culture including:
Human Life and Reproduction Technology
Immigration and Race
Creation and Creature Care
War, Weapons, and Capital Punishment
Featuring contributions from over forty top thinkers, proponents of various views on the specific topics present their approaches in their own words, providing readers an opportunity to fairly consider options.
Unique in how it addresses both big-picture questions about cultural engagement and pressing current issues, Cultural Engagement provides a thorough and broad introduction useful for students, professors, pastors, college ministers, and any believer wanting to more effectively exercise their faith in the public square.
In his What Are Biblical Values? Collins aims to lay out, as dispassionately as possible, what the Bible actually says on a range of issues in contemporary debate—abortion, homosexuality, marriage and family, the environment, slavery, violence, and social justice.
Collins doesn’t think the Bible gives clear answers to most of these questions. The Bible is internally contradictory, a “running argument” with “conflicting values.” It doesn’t matter anyway: “Biblical values are not normative or acceptable for modern society simply because they are found in the Bible.” They have to be sifted and critiqued, both by comparison of Scripture with Scripture and by “dialogue with modern values,” which represent “clear advances in moral sensitivity.” The Bible contributes to the church’s deliberations, but “its contribution is not necessarily decisive.”
Some might contend that topics like the best aioli sauce, the merits of the Coens’ Burn After Reading, the right density for residential properties in an urban neighborhood, or the merits of circles rather than four-way stops at intersections don’t rise to the level of significance as climate change or race relations.
But that suggests the headlines are driving Christian cultural “engagement” more than than simply attending to the variety, wonder, mystery, and reality of creation (including the activities of humans). Why is someone less culturally “engaged” when keeping score of the Phillies-Dodgers game than someone else who is watching the Democratic Party’s presidential debates? If all of creation is the theater of God’s providence, why not an egalitarianism of human interests and endeavors?
In which case, Rachel Rae’s cookbook on comfort food is just as good as (if not better than) Redeemer Presbyterian Church NYC’s cookbook. Christians have no corner on cultural engagement. And if the Bible has little to say about even the matters covered in the books above, what’s the point of calling this Christian or engagement?