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The End of Secularism Paperback – August 31, 2009
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"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
"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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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.
For the first several chapters, the author traces the roots of secularism from around Aquinas until modern times. He notes the obvious influences of men like Roussou and Hobbes as well as the not so obvious influences of men like Luther and the other reformers. This was quite interesting, as many of the quotes by the aforementioned people make clear that they did not have the secularism in mind when they wrote, but you can see how these contain the seeds of some ideas found in today's secularism. We are then lead into a discussion of the modern debate about "separation of church and state" and the original intent of the founding fathers. This in turn leads us into the rise and fall and rise of "fundamentalism" or evangelicalism in America and to our current situation today.
After the history of secularism in America, the author deals with some arguments against secularism. One argument that was quite interesting was the post modern argument against secularism. Basically, this says that there is no such thing as compromise or common ground because the common ground compromises one of the positions. Although we should always be weary of anything labeled "post modern", there seems to be some truth to this idea, as is evidenced by all the "compromise" and "common ground" we hear about in the abortion debate, which of course, is not common ground.
The last chapter brings the whole book together very nicely. It tells of a time in Alabama when a law professor made a biblical case for more government help for the poor in Alabama. Her argument was apparently very well-known, and was essentially the platform of a politician running for Governor (I believe). Yet there was never a cry of "separation of church and state" or "theocracy." It reminded me of how nowadays, people have no problem citing 16th century theological speculation to justify abortion (Aquinas says that life doesn't begin till quickening blah blah blah) and never call themselves out on separation of church and state. Anyway, this chapter summarized the position of the author quite well; that is, that everyone brings their arguments and ideas to the table and we discuss and critique these ideas not based on why we hold them or where they are from, but on the merits themselves.
All in all, this is a very good book that makes a strong case for a more rational form of political debate.
I highly recommend this book.
The book has several quotable lines, including thoughts like this: "If we are equal it is almost surely in the sense of being equal before God, because we are in fact equal in virtually no other way."
Get your highlighter ready...
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