-Author of Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters
"No writer or thinker has taught me as much as James Hunter has about this all-important and complex subject of how culture is changed."
-Author of A Secular Age
"How should Christians act in the world? The dominant answer in America today seems to be: through politics. But the major model of Christian political action, visible most obviously but not exclusively in the Christian Right, has been a politics fueled by resentment and a sense of victimization, actuated by a strong will to power, and a propensity to demonize its opponents. This politics is a capitulation to the worst elements of the contemporary culture it claims to be redeeming. Hunter offers an acute end penetrating analysis of this paradoxical and distressing phenomenon, and carefully charts an alternative course for contemporary Christians, a form of 'faithful presence' within culture and society. The book is brimful of insightful challenges to our conventional understanding of things, and of inspiring suggestions for a new departure."
-Books & Culture: A Christian Review
I celebrate the possibilities opened up by this book. It is groundbreaking, it is comprehensive, and it is visionary. Above all, it is wise, both sociologically and theologically. No Christian entrusted with institutional leadership or cultural power should miss the chance to read it. It will be provoking better Christian conversations about culture for years to come, and may well help our secular neighbors understand what Christians really are, or should be, aiming foreven when we use slogans like "to change the world."
"Hunter is a thoughtful man, measured in his comments and fair minded in his analysis."
-Author of Soul Searching and Souls in Transition
"Insightful, creative, refreshing, challenging, realistic, and calm but hard-hitting, To Change the World offers a sharp critical and constructive vision for American Christianity that simply must be engaged by all sides. Hunter gives us big-picture, alternative thinking at its bets. His deft interrogation of the Christian political left, right, and center in America nails it, just as his constructive, alternative vision rings true in its promise. A rare achievement and a must-read for people of faith in these times."
-Co-author of Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
"For anyone interested in American Christianity, whether believer or observer, this is an extraordinarily important and valuable book. Hunter's analysis of culture and the capacity of Christians to influence it (or not) is the most sophisticated and subtle I have ever seen, explaining why most treatments of the subject are gravely inadequate. His treatment of religion and power in the American context is similarly illuminating. Finally his theology of faithful presence offers a promising alternative to most of the approaches on offer today whether from liberals or conservatives. The encounter of social science and theology has often been vapid; Hunter shows how vibrant it can be."
To change hearts and minds has been the goal of modern Christians seeking to correct a culture deemed fallen and morally lax. Hunter (Culture Wars), a distinguished professor of religion, culture, and social theory at the University of Virginia, finds this approach pervasive among Christians of all stripes and in every case deeply flawed. It can even undermine the message of the very gospel they cherish and desire to advance. In three essaysgroups of chapters developing a conceptHunter charts the history of Christian assumptions and efforts, investigates the nature of power and politics in Christian life and thought, and then proposes a theologically sound alternative: what he calls the practice of faithful presence. This practice has benevolent consequences... precisely because it is not rooted in a desire to change the world... but rather it is an expression of a desire to honor the creator of all goodness, beauty, and truth. Well reasoned and thought provoking, Hunter's corrective argument for authentic Christian engagement with the world is refreshing, persuasive, and inspiring.