Nearly 50 years ago, Christianity Today mailed its first issue to 200,000 select clergy and lay leaders. Editor Carl Henry, visionary Billy Graham, and funder J. Howard Pew had high hopes for the magazine's impact on a country that was battling liberal theology and advancing communism. Yet the editors checked their hubris by printing a dissenting letter in the very first issue.
"Your propaganda letter is to hand," a reader wrote. "A good five-cent cigar would do as much good for the politico-economic situation in the U.S. as your proposed Christianity Today will do for the kingdom of God."
It is difficult to compare the effectiveness of magazines and cigars, but we think that by God's providence, CT has done more good for the kingdom than any stogie has done for America.
This fall, CT will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special issue and some gala events. But with this issue, we are beginning a series of essays that will prod Christians toward doing good for God's kingdom. We have asked a variety of Christian leaders to answer a key question about our relationship to our cultural context: "How can we be a counterculture for the common good?"
The first response to this question is offered by theologian Michael S. Horton of Westminster Seminary California. Eleven more responses will follow throughout 2006, with additional responses appearing in sister publications Leadership and Books & Culture. In 2007 and 2008, we'll repeat the process with questions on the church's mission and its understanding of the gospel.
The person coordinating this massive effort in forward thinking is Andy CrouchCT columnist, editor of re:generation quarterly for five years, and InterVarsity staff adviser to the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship for ten. Andy is, no less importantly, the father of Timothy and Amy and husband of Catherine, an experimental physicist at Swarthmore.
This year, Andy took on the responsibility of directing The Christian Vision Project for Christianity Today International. The essays we'll be publishing are part of a larger project begun with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Additional thought-provoking material will be made available to churches on DVD, in books, and through public forums.
This project is a perfect fit for Andy, who says, "This is my lifeto ask questions about culture, mission, and gospel." CT was founded to meet an inadequacy in a moment of great opportunity. The late 1940s and 1950s saw the emergence of "a remarkable group of Christian leaders ready to engage with culture." We're there again today, says Andy. "This is a tremendously fruitful moment for Christianity in America."
This year's question focuses on the church's role as a counterculture. Andy believes that we have largely created "a cultural copy, a facsimile culture for our own private goals. By creating replicas of the culture to serve the church, we have failed to serve the church's mission." Find more of Andy's thinking about culture at www.culture-makers.com. We are looking forward to three years of stimulating essays under Andy's leadership.
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
The first article in the Christian Vision Project is posted today:
How the Kingdom Comes | The church becomes countercultural by sinking its roots ever deeper into God's heavenly gifts.
Christianity Today sister publication Books & Culture's first article in the Christian Vision Project is Lauren F. Winner's "Sleep Therapy."
Andy Crouch's columns for Christianity Today are collected on our site. His other articles include:
The Emergent Mystique | The 'emerging church' movement has generated a lot of excitement but only a handful of congregations. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? (Oct. 22, 2004)
Campus Collisions | Why InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was "derecognized" at some of America's leading universities. (Oct. 3, 2003)
Back issues of Andy Crouch's re:generation quarterly are available from the CTlibrary.
More CVP articles from our sister publications are available on Christian Vision Project. Also check out the Christian Vision Project's new video documentary, Intersect|Culture. The videos take you into the stories of ordinary believers who, by faith, changed their communities. The set includes a DVD with 6 videos and coordinating group curriculum.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.