I read James Davison Hunter’s “To Change The World” several years ago and thought it was a brilliant analysis of the power of cultural institutions to shape the culture. His strategy for cultural engagement, though, left me puzzled at the time. He called it “faithful presence,” and there didn’t seem to be any sense that he believes Christians should want to influence the culture. This question of Christians and their relationship to culture is a complicated one, as H. Richard Niebuhr described in his seminal book on the subject, Christ and Culture. I think I understand “faithful presence” better now, but what is the take away of a discussion of culture for Christian parents?

We cannot take for granted or be unaware of the culture’s influence on our kids. It is more than obvious that we live in a post-Christian culture hostile to our faith. Some parents fear this hostility, or try to protect their children from it. I have a different take: culture can be our children’s best friend, if we know how to use it. We call using culture to defend and affirm the faith cultural apologetics, and it gets an entire chapter in the book; it is that important. Culture is ubiquitous, so every day we practically we have a myriad of opportunities to strengthen our kids faith as we interact with the culture.

Christian parents will want to read Hunter’s book to get an understanding of where true cultural influence comes from, and why the assault on Christianity has such power in our day. The Gospel Coalition has just published a eBook that takes a look at Hunter’s work five years later:

In 2010, noted University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter published the landmark book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. On the five-year anniversary of its publication, we asked eight contributors to engage the book’s thesis and assess its effect on the ongoing interaction of evangelical Christians with the surrounding culture. The result is The Gospel Coalition’s first eBook, Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’:To Change the World Five Years Later. You can download the book, for free, to read in your preferred format.

You can find an introduction to the book at The Gospel Coalition’s website, and and links to download it in various formats.

Share This