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The End of Secularism
Crossway Books & Bibles / 2009 / Paperback
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This is an innovative study on the social phenomena known as Secularism, and its impact on American culture. Initially tracing the historical events contributing to the rise of Secularism in America, Baker deems it a failed social policy and believes only an institutional separation--not an absolute separation--between church and state can preserve the ideals embedded in the U.S. Constitution and secure a sound and fair public policy.
One of the most comprehensive attacks on secularism yet attempted argues that advocates of secularism misunderstand the borders between science, religion, and politics and cannot solve the problem of religious difference.
HUNTER BAKER (PhD, JD) is a Christian academic and writer specializing in religion, politics, history, and culture. Baker serves on the political science faculty at Union University and is the associate dean of arts and sciences. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The American Spectator, National Review Online, Christianity Today, and the Journal of Law and Religion.
We all know the old proverb, "There are two things you don't discuss at dinnerpolitics and religion." The idea being that both religion and politics are divisive subjects that lead to disagreements even among the closest of friends and family. Hunter Baker, in his work The End of Secularism attempts to take on both issues, and their relationship with one another. Baker attempts to argue against the attitude that religion and politics need to be separated, and in favor of a Christian worldview that believes that faith belongs as a powerful, outspoken force in the public square.
The End of Secularism is a thorough book. The Introduction is essential reading for understanding the text, as well as understanding the author. In it Baker gives a first-hand narrative of how he came to his thesis in his personal journey. The first third of the book covers the history of bringing one's personal faith into the public square. He discusses the ancient church and the Reformation, as well as the French Revolution. Baker spends the most time, however, discussing the way that faith and politics have related to one another in the public square in the United States of America.
Baker believes that as America has developed, we have acquired an ethos that relegates religion to private and personal space, and politics and science to the public sphere. Thus, religion is ones "personal business" and part of ones "personal life," but as a culture we find it difficult when people bring their faith in the public sphere, especially in matters of medicine, the academy, and public policy. This clear delineation Baker refers to as secularismbecause our public lives need to be lived without deference and reference to our religious convictions and commitments. He says of secularists as he grew up, "Expressions of public faith offended them they way that pornography offended certain other people" (p. 11).
Baker is generous with the secularists. He believes that much of the way our culture deals with religion and politics has to do with somewhat good intentions. For the most part, after years of arguing about religion in public, secularist society has chosen to push faith to persons personal lives out of a desire for peace. Also, secularism, in light of such arguments, pushed religion to the private sphere of living as a way of honoring its importance without making it a matter of public policy. This has not been entirely bad for religion either. Christian evangelicalism gained strength in this environment that focused on faith as a "personal decision for Christ."
The End of Secularism as a title is, of course, a double meaning. Baker believes that the end goal of secularism is to marginalize matters of faith, and the author believes in our current environment religious faith cannot be left out of the public discourse. Thus secularism is being exposed by the author as a poor idea, and an idea that is coming to an end. Do you agree? Read and find out! Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Author: Hunter Baker
Submitted: August 05, 2009
Tell us a little about yourself. I am the associate provost at Houston Baptist University. My work has appeared in Christianity Today, American Spectator, National Review Online, the Journal of Law and Religion, Human Events, and many other outlets. I am a J.D./Ph.D. specializing in religion, politics, and culture.
What was your motivation behind this project? I wrote the book I wanted to read! For many years I looked for a really comprehensive critique of secularism. This is it!
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I hope they will begin to really understand how taking God out of public life essentially solves nothing. It doesn't make peace between people. It isn't a more rational way to engage in political discussion.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? Writing this book was one of the best periods of thinking and study in my life. I had a chance to reflect deeply on something that matters greatly to me. And I remember my children (then age 2 and 5) romping around the house while I tried to work.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? Augustine, Martin Luther, Abraham Kuyper, Martin Luther, Whittaker Chambers, Richard John Neuhaus . . .
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I think this book will help readers to have a much better understanding of church and state and how the two interact in a healthy manner. I also think it will help people understand the course of the history between religion and politics.
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