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In Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (Crossway), Greg Forster, program director at the Kern Family Foundation, helps American Christians understand the church's complex relationship to the ...

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Carlos Ramirez Trevino

January 04, 2014  9:08am

Is the underlying premise of the culture movement that God created humanity for its own sake? Is it therefore our duty and responsibility to improve society by infusing it with Christian values? Will a propagation of these values fulfill our destiny as God’s unique creation? And is it our duty and responsibility to influence society so we can create a better world? Is that sort of exceptionalism justified? Would non-Christians agree with the assertion that Christianity makes life and culture better? Can we use the Crusaders as an example? How about the Puritans? Or perhaps the Amish? Which values? What culture? Which laws? By contrast, are other non-religious and religiously homogenous societies, nations, and governments less likely to achieve cultural enrichment because some of their values differ from those of Christians? Finally, did God really create us to live on forever in paradise? Does "a secular liberal democracy lack the cultural resources necessary to justify its own existence"? Is any political system required to justify itself? Is the assumption that democracy in the U.S. can only be justified by myriad Christian subcultures? What comparisons can we draw from China, for example; which is in effect a secular pragmatic democracy? The book sounds like good reading, but what are the dangers and pitfalls to look out for in the assumption that Christian influence is a must for cultural development and a joyful society?

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