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Blue Springs, MO
4 Stars Out Of 5
Great Book by Volf
June 10, 2013
Blue Springs, MO
This book was pleasantly surprising, even though it was at times a bit repetitive. Volf's message is important in an increasingly pluralistic society.
Two sections were of particular interest to me:
1) Fit- Volf argues that any worldview that aims to be relevant (especially as concerns human flourishing) must have a program for advancement that matches that worldview. The implications are huge, but one must read Volf's argument to have full appreciation.
2) Operation in pluralistic society- Volf points out that the early church was able to operate well as a small minority in its first few centuries of existence. This may be what we are headed back to, but we need not react like the religious right in America, we simply need to engage the culture in a way that is distinctly and positively Christian.
I recommend this book to any and all Christians interested in a sustainable model for Christian interaction with the culture.
Miroslav Volf's "A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good" is a well-articulated and well-formulated guide to how Christians should both understand the nature of their religion as a "prophetic religion" and how they should go about fulfilling the task of "interchange with the world", that is, when "the message is spoken, enacted, built into liturgies or institutions, or embodied in laws". To this end Volf clarifies the malfunctional pitfalls of idleness, whether by immorality or silence in so-called "secular" territory, or coercion, be it with violence or mistreatment, we Christians can fall into that disrupt our mission to bring about human flourishing in Christ. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on "Sharing Wisdom" as it informs us to not only share our Christian wisdom to assist others towards more meaningful lives, but also to be receptive to the wisdom of other religions, sort of difficult when we falsely assume that we have all the answers instead of realizing that at one point in history all legitimate forms of wisdom was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth in whom we worship and follow, and therefore, wisdom from other religions is perfectly compatible with our faith.
My single contention was the language at times was a bit too technical for a topic that needs to be addressed at the popular level and therefore should be more easily digestible. The lay Christians in America need this message and wisdom in order to accomplish their task for this generation caught in the tangles of a life characterized by "self-satisfying experiences". But other than that, Volf's organization of the content makes it quite easy to pick back up and refresh one's memory when it comes time to implement the book on terra firma. So this book wouldn't be a bad choice to carry in one's backpack, bag, or suitcase as one seeks to bring about healing in our broken world.
With that said, if "A Public Faith" is seriously read and implemented to shape the way we as Christians approach the wider-culture to accomplish our call to love the world as Christ himself did, we can not only avoid repeating the tragic mistakes of the past, but we will actively contribute to all areas of lifeâ€”social, political, economic, and privateâ€” as we help the world along, other religions included.