"How To Reach the West Again" by Timothy Keller. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This short little booklet (just under 60 pages) is written to address what the Christian Church needs to focus on in a post-Christian western society. Not so much a "how-to" but a "why-to" and "think-through" kind of approach. It's an easy read that may envelope about an hour of one's time.
Keller brings out the way the story has changed in the West and that this post-Christian world is asking different questions from different perspectives than in the past. But also that it is narrating different tales and plot-lines. Then the author goes on to point out how Bible-believing, Gospel-embracing churches and denominations need to realize where we are now and to see better how to come at where we are. This post-Christendom evangelistic dynamic includes attention, attraction, demonstration, and conviction. The author draws from the way the earlier church subtly impacted late Roman culture, and makes some simple conclusions. I found many of them worthwhile to think through and study, especially the section on our need to be pioneers of civility, as well as his stress on setting up a counter-catechesis for our digital age.
Here-and-there brilliant observations rise to the surface, as well. For example Keller asserts that the "early Christian community was both offensive and attractive. But believers did not construct the community as a way to reach Roman culture. Rather,...Christians sought to submit to biblical authority" (29). That statement seriously challenges the symbiotic liberal and conservative approaches to church that create experience-venues primarily to gain ascendancy and audiences. Thank you, Tim, for pointing that out!
In the end, the teeny book is worth purchasing, pouring over and pondering. There were items here and there that I took issue with, specifically the multi-racial aspect that didn't give any thought to a free-market religious environment. But it's a small book, and it doesn't have the space to address such things to my satisfaction. All said, this is a book I can happily recommend for church leaders to discuss.
You can pick up the booklet here: How to Reach the West Again
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