Sometime this past spring, when record Boston snows still made the city look decidedly winter-ish, I wandered into a local bookstore (which I now dearly miss) and picked up a travel memoir and settled into a spot at Panera to read. And read. And read.
As a child, I had loved to read, but somewhere during college, with all its required books, I lost the habit of reading for pleasure. But ever since that cold spring afternoon, I’ve started reading again. And I’m so glad I have.
My most recent read, Russell Moore’s Onward, I happily received for free in exchange for a review. So, here are my thoughts.
Short version: A recommended read for any American Christian willing to thoughtfully consider the role of the church in increasingly post-Christian America.
Longer version: Moore’s book is nothing if not thoughtful and thought-provoking. A conservative evangelical himself, Moore is also on the cutting edge of a new generation of American Christians who find themselves uncomfortable with the “moral majority” approach of the past to political and social issues, but who also don’t want to completely abandon the church’s engagement with cultural issues.
Onward provides both a theoretical foundation for how American Christians ought to view themselves and their present context (in chapters titled “Kingdom,” “Culture,” and “Mission”,) and also wrestles with specific issues confronting the American church today (human dignity, religious liberty, and family stability). Particularly refreshing is Moore’s chapter on “Convictional Kindness,” in which he provides a much-needed exhortation toward graciousness in an era often marked by shrill, abrasive dialogue (if it can be called that) on facebook and twitter.
If you’ve noticed the use of the word “American” many times in a few short paragraphs, you’re not alone. Moore’s book is most directly targeted toward the church in the United States. And it does a very good job in addressing American Christians. And yet, I found myself wondering what it would look like to apply Moore’s arguments in non-American contexts. Does the book have any application for Christians in China, Latin America, or Germany? I believe it does, but the reader is largely left to put the puzzle pieces together alone.
Nonetheless, for American Christians confronting a less-Christian culture, Moore provides a grounded, hopeful treatise on how to think about interaction with their culture.
I received a free copy of “Onward” to review by B&H Publishing.