Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CULTURE SHIFT
Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth
By R. Albert Mohler Jr.
A review by Steve Fair
Written in 2008 by Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, this little book is a must read. Mohler is a devout Calvinist (believes God is really God) and Culture Shift reflects that view. The twenty chapters are insightful and thought provoking. EVERY AMERICAN BELIEVER SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. It is not a quick read or an easy read, but Mohler confronts the issues of our day with a worldview that challenges believers. Here is a chapter-by-chapter outline/recap of the book:

CHAPTER 1- Christian Faith & Politics
Citing Augustine’s City of God, Mohler encourages the reader/believer to engage the culture with a ‘love for their neighbor.’
*****
CHAPTER 2- Christian Morality & Public Law
Mohler offers examples of America’s being more ‘secular.’ Quoting Robert Audi, a liberal philosophy professor from Nebraska, Mohler lists Audi’s three principles of ‘civic virtue in a liberal democracy.’ They are:
(1) Secular Relational- no law should be passed that is not totally secular.
(2) Secular Motivation- those who got involved in public policy must have purely secular motives.
(3) Ecclesiastical Political Neutrality- church/individuals should not use religious motivation to press for laws or public policies that restrict human conduct.
*****
CHAPTER 3- Christian Morality & Public Law- 3 secular Myths
Mohler counters Audi’s points with three myths about secularism. The myths are:
(1) The myth of the secular state- one cannot be genuinely secular and indifferent to the existence of God.
(2) The myth of a secular argument- debating morality from a purely secular position is impossible.
(3) The myth of secular motivation- no person can separate themselves from their own motivations.
Mohler uses well-known liberal Peter Singers statements about infanticide- ‘infants are not worthy of protection until they have the ability to relate and to use language.’
*****
CHAPTER 4- Christian Morality & Public Law- 5 thesis
(1) A liberal democracy must allow all participants in the debate to speak and argue from whatever worldviews or convictions they possess.
(2) Citizens participating in public debate over law and public policy should declare the convictional basis for their arguments.
(3) A liberal democracy must accept limits on secular discourse even as it recognizes limits on religious discourse.
(4) A liberal democracy must acknowledge the commingling of religious and secular arguments, motivations and outcomes.
(5) A liberal democracy must acknowledge and respect the rights of all citizens, including its self-consciously religious citizens.
The Christian should always conduct themselves in the public square following two principles- (1) Love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind, and (2) Love our neighbor as ourself.
*****
CHAPTER 5- The Culture of Offendedness
Mohler devotes this chapter to examining the meaning of offended and how our modern society has become easily offended. Offended in the scripture did not mean causing emotional distress or being inconvenienced or neglected. Christians should only be offended in defense of the Gospel.
*****
CHAPTER 6- The growing Cloud of Confusion
Mohler cites the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court rulings on two 10-commandment monument cases. In one, the monument was deemed to be appropriate (Texas) and in the other it was not (Kentucky). He explores the inconsistency of the rulings.
*****
CHAPTER 7- All that Terror teaches
What has terror taught us in America? Mohler lists five lessons:
(1) The terror has taught us to accept reality- we live in a dangerous, evil world.
(2) The terror has taught us to distinguish between good and evil. That has forced people to confront their value systems.
(3) We learned either God is in control or we are lost in a cosmos of chaos.
(4) We were reminded the Gospel has enemies.
(5) We learned that spirituality is not substitute for Christian Faith. Mohler says, ‘Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square.”
*****
CHAPTER 8- Torture and the war on Terror
Mohler examines the ethical dilemma some face when confronted with the use of torture to find out information from terrorist. He says, ‘what we must not do is compound the problem of dirty hands by adopting dirty rules.’
*****
CHAPTER 9- Needed: An exit strategy from public schools
This chapter was the one that got Mohler in trouble with conventional education. He says all Christian believers must had ‘an exit strategy from the public schools in place.’ He quotes John Dewey, the recognized father of American common education and a humanist who said his goal in education was ‘a common faith.’
*****
CHAPTER 10- The God gene
Do some people have a chemical propensity to worship God and that is their motivation? Mohler dispels that myth in this insightful chapter.
*****
CHAPTER 11- Are we raising a nation of wimps?
Mohler takes a nostalgic look at how each generation has become softer in America. He says, ‘let’s be thankful for the lessons learned from skinned knees, routine disappointments, and hard work.’
*****
CHAPTER 12- Hard America- Soft America
Examines Michael Barone’s book of the same name.
*****
CHAPTER 13- The Post-truth era
Mohler examines lying and how causal lying has invaded America. He says, ‘as a culture, it’s about time we faced the truth about our acceptance of untruthfulness.’
*****
CHAPTER 14- Is Abortion a Moral Issue?
The debate brewing among the pro-choice crowd is examined.
*****
CHAPTER 15- Who is afraid of the Fetus?
Mohler cities statistics on how ultrasound has changed the abortion debate. The unborn child is making their own case with their mother from the womb.
*****
CHAPTER 16- God and the Tsunami: theology in the headlines
Mohler says, ‘Christians must respond to a crisis like this- by weeping with those who weep, praying with fervent faithfulness, offering concrete assistance in Christ’s name, and most importantly by bearing bold witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ- the only way to bring life out of death.’
*****
CHAPTER 17- God and the Tsunami: a Christian response
(1) A Christian response must affirm the true character and power of God
(2) We must avoid attempting to explain what God has not explained.
(3) We must respond with the love of Christ and the power of the Gospel.
Mourn for those who are mourning
Be at the forefront of relief efforts
Point out this ‘disaster’ is nothing compared to the judgment of God
*****
CHAPTER 18- Nineveh, New Orleans and the City of Man
Citing Augustine, Mohler examines the response to the Katrina in New Orleans. Augustine said, ‘the earthy city will not be everlasting: for when it is condemned to the final punishment, it will not longer be a city.’ Mohler emphasizes the ‘temporal’ nature of the City of Man.
*****
CHAPTER 19- Hiroshima and the Burden of History
Confronts the moral dilemma the atomic bomb presented America and the world.
*****
CHAPTER 20- The Content of our Character-Kings dream and ours
In this chapter, Mohler confronts racism. “Christians must begin with the affirmation that all human beings are equally created in the image of God,” Mohler says.

1 comment:

Jason Carini said...

Thanks for your review of this book. Mohler is an excellent author/speaker/theologian. Hope to get a chance to read the book in the near future.