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 Crouch—CT columnist, editor of re:generation quarterly for five years, and InterVarsity staff adviser to the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian ...

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