Sunday 21 March 2010

Forthcoming James Davison Hunter Book: To Change the World (1)

James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 368pp., ISBN 9780199730803.

Coming with endorsements from Tim Keller, Robert Bellah, Charles Taylor, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, this book is already being described as ‘one of the most important books published in 2010’ (see, for example, the earlier heads-up by Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds, where the comments posted there give some early indications as to how some sectors may respond to the book) – and it’s not even been published yet.

The book can be found on the publisher’s UK website here, but there is more information on the US website here. The Amazon link allows a peak inside the book here.

The volume itself is divided into three main ‘essays’, each containing several chapters, as follows:

Essay One
Christianity and World-Changing

1. Christian Faith and the Task of World-Changing
2. Culture: The Common View
3. The Failure of the Common View
4. An Alternative View of Culture and Cultural Change in Eleven Propositions
5. Evidence in History
6. The Cultural Economy of American Christianity
7. For and Against the Mandate of Creation

Essay Two
Rethinking Power

1. The Problem of Power
2. Power and Politics in American Culture
3. The Christian Right
4. The Christian Left
5. The Neo-Anabaptists
6. Illusion, Irony, and Tragedy
7. Rethinking Power: Theological Reflections

Essay Three
Toward a New City Commons: Reflections on a Theology of Faithful Presence

1. The Challenge of Faithfulness
2. Old Cultural Wineskins
3. The Groundwork for an Alternative Way
4. Toward a Theology of Faithful Presence
5. The Burden of Leadership: A Theology of Faithful Presence in Practice
6. Toward a New City Commons

Here is the description of the book from the publishers:

‘The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive – and provocative – answers to these questions.

Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christian eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls “faithful presence” – an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real-life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practice of “faithful presence.” Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be.

Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world.’


Brett Jordan said...

ok, i'm going to have to read this one, aren't i?

Anonymous said...

Yes but Christians have been changing the world for 17 years now, ever since the church was coopted by the Roman state.

These very stark image tells us what thus happened--and how.

Plus this reference describes some of the details.

Hunter's applied politics are just more of the same.

Anonymous said...

that should have been 1700 years