Contrasting the sober culture change realists James Davison Hunter and Andy Crouch, Os Guinness’ new book Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times refreshingly reminds us of the Gospel’s life and culture-changing power and hope.
I intend on writing a review of Renaissance soon, but from what I’ve read it’s a timely and necessary book given our present cultural moment. Reading Guinness’ Renaissance in one hand while holding a Guinness in the other hand seems most fitting. (Os is a great-great-great grandson of Dublin brewer Arthur Guinness.)
Most websites provide a brief sample of Renaissance, but you can read the entire first chapter here.
For the past two years Guinness has been making the rounds speaking on what it means to have a Gospel renaissance. The most recent talk was at a recent Anglican conference in June 2014, beginning at the 37th minute:
James Davison Hunter:
The very nature of modern life is its fragmentation and segmentation into multiple constellations of experience, knowledge, and relationships with each constellation grounded in a specific social and institutional realm of a person’s life. Under such conditions, we experience a fragmentation of consciousness—what someone recently called, “continuous partial attention.” This fragmentation is often reinforced by a world of hyperkinetic activity marked by unrelenting interruption and distraction. On the one hand, such conditions foster a technical mastery that prizes speed and agility, and facility with multiple tasks—for example, using e-mail, I-M, the cell phone, the iPod, all the while eating lunch, holding a conversation, or listening to a lecture. But on the other hand, these very same conditions undermine our capacity for silence, depth of thinking, and focused attention. In other words, the context of contemporary life, by its very nature, cultivates a kind of absence in the experience of “being elsewhere.” Faithful presence resists such conditions and the frame of mind it cultivates.
—To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, p. 252 (emphases mine).
James Davison Hunter:
…we need a new language for how the church engages the culture. It is essential, in my view, to abandon altogether talk of—
- redeeming the culture
- advancing the kingdom
- building the kingdom
- transforming the world
- reclaiming the culture
- reforming the culture
- changing the world
Christians need to leave such language behind them because it carries too much weight. It implies conquest, take-over, or dominion, which in my view is precisely what God does not call us to pursue….
—To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, p. 280 [Reformatted for readability]