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The End of Secularism Paperback – August 5, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The End of Secularism is both helpful clarification and instructive critique of the de facto rules of political discourse . . ." --Matt Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy

"It's a book you'll be glad you read the next time you get in an argument about religion's role in politics." --Andrew Klavan, Pajamas Media

"Baker turns a scathing critique on the secularist movement itself, and in particular, its claims to take a solely neutral and scientific approach toward social and political science." --Nathan Pitchford, ReformedBooks.net

"Kudos to Baker for a fascinating and thought-provoking book." --Mike Potemra, National Review The Corner

"Baker is a master of the succinct summary; one is never left with the feeling that he has left out a development or missed a crucial concept." --David Layman, First Things online

Review

"Hunter Baker's volume is a much-welcomed addition to the debate on the role of religion and faith in the public square. To the confusion regarding matters of religion and politics, Baker brings illuminating clarity. To the ambiguity regarding the meaning and place of pluralism, he provides thoughtful analysis. To the directionless arguments for secularization, he offers an insightful and discerning response. This much-needed volume provides a readable, historically-informed, and carefully-reasoned case for the place of faith in our public deliberations. It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend it."
David S. Dockery, President, Union University

"Hunter Baker is a gifted writer who knows how to communicate the issue of secularism to an audience that desperately needs to hear a critical though winsome voice on this matter. In many ways, the book is a twenty-first-century sequel to the late Richard John Neuhaus's classic, The Naked Public Square. Baker understands the issues that percolate beneath the culture wars. They are not merely political but theological and philosophical, and they are rarely unpacked in an articulate way so that the ordinary citizen can gain clarity. Baker offers his readers that clarity."
Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University; author of Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice

"Hunter Baker is one of the sharpest thinkers in contemporary American Christianity. This work will provoke the same kind of conversation ignited by Richard John Neuhaus's The Naked Public Square. Read this book slowly with a highlighter and a pen in hand as you think about questions ranging from whether the Ten Commandments ought to hang in your local courthouse to whether there's a future for public Christianity."
Russell D. Moore, Dean, School of Theology; Senior Vice President for Academic Administration; Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"The task of discerning the alternative to practical atheism lived by many nominal Christians and the pretense of a neutral secularism has been made easier by this rich study. Once authentic Christians grasp the ramifications of the incarnation of Christ, then and only then will it be apparent that, as Baker argues, "secularism only makes sense in relation to religion."
Robert A. Sirico, President, Acton Institute

"The End of Secularism debunks the widespread myth that secularism is the inevitable wave of the future, coming at us like an unstoppable force of nature. Baker shows instead that the secularization of society was the result of deliberate planning and concerted effort by a relatively few determined ideologues. Baker makes it clear that what they did can be undone. We shall be hearing more from this promising young man."
Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President, The Ruth Institute

"Hunter Baker has produced a powerful and carefully constructed argument against the secularists in our midst who are attempting to subvert the traditions that gave birth to our unique national enterprise."
Herbert London, President, Hudson Institute; Author, America's Secular Challenge

"Secularism was supposed to have displaced religion before the end of the last century. It failed. Hunter Baker has done every Christian interested in a faithful life in the public square an immense favor. As an important and emerging young evangelical scholar and public thinker, Baker doesn't cower at the seemingly imposing face of secularism but intelligently reads its vital signs and confidently declares its inherent weaknesses."
Glenn T. Stanton, Cultural Researcher, Speaker; Author, Marriage on Trial and My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (August 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433506548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433506543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Walker on August 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Hunter Baker's new book, The End of Secularism, reminds me more than anything in my own experience of the work of Francis Schaeffer (though Baker criticizes Schaeffer in certain areas). It's a dense book, heavily footnoted, presenting a lot of information in a relatively short (194 pages) format. You'll want to keep a highlighter in hand as you read it, and if you're like me, you'll have to stop and contemplate what you're reading from time to time.

Baker begins with several chapters of historical overview, tracing the history of the Christian church, then explaining how secularism as a world-view and ideology burgeoned in a world increasingly weary of religious conflict and war. Secularism--the view that religion (if tolerated at all) must be cordoned off from public life, so that even someone whose politics are formed by faith must find secular public arguments for it in order to participate in the process--was originally marketed, and continues to be marketed today, as the only rational and impartial alternative to the passions and intolerance of believers.

Baker then applies to this claim of rationality and impartiality the same kind of analysis that secularists like to use on religion. He finds secularism greatly wanting, and fatally blind to its own unexamined presuppositions. It's strange to find postmodern thinkers presented positively in a Christian book, but Baker takes particular note of recent deconstructions of secularism by younger thinkers. These postmoderns note that secularists are not, as they imagine, impartial referees in the world of thought, but partisans holding a distinct ideology, and that their efforts to silence religious ideas in the public square are simply a new example of an elite class attempting to muzzle heretics.
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Format: Paperback
In a time much more given to heat than light, Hunter Baker offers a brilliant and courageous analysis of the argument that secularism is the guarantor and preserver of pluralistic harmony in America. Instead, he points out,it is an ideology well on its way to becoming a orthodoxy that is likely to become a censoring force, controlling and stifling religious life and discourse by interventionistic suppression (as in the Swedish model) of what of what it considers to be unacceptable tangents in the church. This does not mean that he endorses the opposing notion that America was founded as a "Christian Nation." He is as ready to dispel pious fictions as he is to describe pernicious frauds. Baker offers the reader further enlightenment by pointing out that secularism is a normal, though variable, feature of human life and governance. We must first know meaning of our terms in the contemporary context when we speak of secularism. On this point alone, The End of Secularism is worth reading. But this far from being its only merit; it is a book that Christians and secularists alike should read. It is a powerful antidote to the ranting that too often passes for intelligent discourse in our day.

Harold Raley, PhD
Senior Editor
Halcyon Press
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Format: Paperback
Hunter Baker of Houston Baptist University has produced a rare book. It is a book of serious explication both accessible to layman or beginner at the subject, and illuminating to those long immersed in its twisted passageways and forbidding streets. That subject is secularism, a tormented subject indeed in American history. For definition Baker gives, early in his book, several useful definitional statements: "private religion is at the heart of secularism." "Secularism means that religious considerations are excluded from civil affairs."

But the essence of secularism, according to him, is a cheap rhetorical trick. It is the pretense that you can kick out the supports for the edifice of traditional morality, stand in some bewilderment as it falls in a cloud of dust, and then proceed about in the ruins, appealing like some madman to a vague consensus in order to convince everyone a new structure has already been built. How the secularist has convinced so many with this particular chicanery is a story, perhaps, for our psychologists or novelists.

For our philosophers and historians and simple readers like me, Baker gives us a serviceable narrative, succinctly composed and carefully worded, which not only summarizes the state of things now, but also incorporates some unappreciated scholars and thinkers into the conversation.

There is no sense in hiding my view that it will be a blow not merely for clarity, but for justice and truth as well, when the end of secularism has come. It is little to be doubted that when that day dawns, Baker will have had his part in the victory.

I'll leave readers with what may be my favorite part.
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Professor Baker writes with an eloquence that carries the reader through some intense discussions about the role of secularism in the public arena. He includes enough autobiographical context to demonstrate that this is not only of academic interest, but of significant personal investment.

The application of Biblical logic, coupled with a careful and consistent historiography, provide the reader with the tools to weigh Hunter's evidence and conclusions. He is most effective in debunking the myth that secularism is some benign neutral position in the inevitable cultural and political issues any nation must face. There is a refreshing, positive perspective in the book; that should help readers of different initial opinions profit from an honest reading of the material.

This book would be useful as a college text; it should be required reading for any course in political science, comparative religions or church and state studies. Pastors need to read and grasp the logic of this book. Christians and secularists who want to have honest, helpful discussions with one another should include this book in their preparations.

This is an outstanding contribution to the subject and I give it my highest recommendation.
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