A pair of evangelical professors have overseen the creation of a book that features diverse Christian perspectives on a host of contemporary issues, with the intention of challenging Christians to think about what they believe and why.
Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior and theologian Joshua Chatraw served as editors and essay contributors to the book Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues, which will be released on July 9.
The book covers nine contemporary issues: “sexuality,” “gender roles,” “human life and reproductive technology,” “immigration and race,” “creation and creature care,” “politics,” “work,” “arts,” and “war, weapons, and capital punishment.”
Each section has different perspectives from a range of professed Christian writers. For example, the “sexuality” chapter includes an essay from theological conservative Robert A. J. Gagnon and theological liberal Matthew Vines.
In the introduction, Prior and Chatraw wrote that with Cultural Engagement they wanted “to provide a panoramic view of the forest of Christian responses to the most pressing issues.”
“By placing these different pieces side-by-side, we are not implying they are all equally true or valid. Some are clearly at odds with each other. We each have our own opinions about these issues,” they wrote.
“The competing views in this book are important to be observed together for the simple reason that they are part of the panoramic landscape of the church’s engagement with today’s world. And learning to become good listeners (and readers!) is one of the first steps in engaging culture with grace and truth.”
The Christian Post interviewed Prior last week on issues including background on which the book was created, the need to listen to different viewpoints, and what essays in the book she disagreed with. The following Q&A includes excerpts from that interview.
CP: How do you believe your book is different from other books centered on Christian cultural engagement?
Prior: One thing I think sets this book apart is that it really is what the subtitle says, it is a “crash course” on a number of issues. It’s up to date in the sense that we have some of the current leading thinkers and writers on these nine issues that we addressed.
We don’t just address the issues in this book. We actually set up a pretty sturdy framework in the introductory chapters and the discussion questions that help readers practice thinking through these issues biblically and critically.
A good third of the book is really about how we should engage the culture and how we think biblically through whatever the issue might be so that this book is much bigger than the particular topics covered here and even the particular views that are presented.
CP: It is noted in the book’s Introduction that you wanted diverse Christian voices on contemporary issues in order to show “the panoramic landscape of the church’s engagement with today’s world.” Much has been made about how increasingly Americans, left and right, seem to be more and more sheltered from different opinions. Do you believe that your book can help counter that problem, at least among American Christians?
That’s actually one of the goals of the book. I think we’re in an extremely polarized time in our culture, but also within the church.
Whether it is by our own choice or because of the algorithms that social media presents to us, we encounter oftentimes only the views that we already agree with or oftentimes the view that someone has posted in opposition in some sort of outrage. And we don’t get much nuance and we don’t get to see the range of views and to think through them.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski