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Where in the World Is the Church?: A Christian View of Culture and Your Role in It Paperback – May 1, 2002
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"A terrific book to give college students and anyone else wondering about occupational calling. Michael Horton lucidly shows how working hard and well in academia, the arts, science, and other areas of endeavor is full-time Christian service." --Marvin Olasky
About the Author
Michael S. Horton (PhD, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and the University of Coventry) teaches apologetics and historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California. He is the author of nine books and the editor of four.
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It doesn't mean taking our large leather Bible to work, displaying it prominently, reading it in well-trafficked halls and common rooms, and more or less shoving it under the noses of our colleagues. If there is any excellence in our work, I would warrant it would go unnoticed under such glaring religiosity, the window-dressing of public piety. We do no service to Christ by such a show, rather harm as an awkward fellow traveler in the world among Christians and pagans alike.
But neither should we hide our light under a bushel, as Christ admonishes us, while we participate in the scientific, technological, and culture-making activity of the world, and here it is that Horton's book is most useful to those embarking on their vocations to which they were called by the God who endowed them with the gift and talents to pursue them in excellence and to His glory. "A Christian," writes Horton "must participate in culture in a manner that recognizes creation, not redemption, as the appropriate theological basis for such activity." In the arena of the arts, for example, he points out that when we attempt to mix the secular and the sacred "we get bad theology and bad art" (e.g., the Left Behind series). "Spiritual warfare fiction," Horton writes, "has more in common with Neoplatonic (gnostic) dualism ... than with the sovereign God of history."
Horton reinforces our sound irenic heritage and builds on the Reformed theological view of our secular vocation by reminding us that we are to be productive, nay, high-achieving citizens of the world (as long as we are in, not of it) while being citizens of heaven.
This book is written with passion and theological depth, with an inspiring look along the way at Christians who have taken the world to the mountaintops of their professions to get a glimpse of the magnificence of His creation.
There are many "main points" woven together in this book, but I'll just mention a couple. First, the evangelical church in the USA tends to be of the world but not in it. For Prof. Horton, our churches have promoted a kind of ghetto mentality wherein many churches avoid "the world" instead of "worldliness." Yet, at the same time, the low brow music in churches, mistaken views that they are escaping "the world" while at the same time using current events, marketing, and pop psychology as their m.o., and a general misunderstanding of the difference between common grace and special grace/revelation have together led to a non-Biblical, anti-theological positioning that draws the church away from Christ, not towards Him.
Second, Prof. Horton, if I read him correctly, posits that the Christian scientist,artist, or educator need not feel guilty if he or she is striving for excellence in terms of his or her field of endeavor. They are not wasting their time as Christians by pursuing "art" or "science" as their callings in life. They do not need to justify their artistic or scientific work to themselves or others by forcing the issue and making the art or science "Christian" nor should they see their main role in the workplace as one of witnessing for the Lord. Rather, Almighty God has given us our respective callings and that understanding will motivate and uplift us in our work.
He really clears the air on many issues that have become hyped. For example, I heard a preacher this morning speaking about Revelation. He said to the youth gathered before him, "In Revelation there's an angel throwing fireballs at the Earth." Then he added, "How's that for a ministry?!" In another part of the lesson, he announced that one-third of the Earth's population -- about two billion out of six billion -- would be killed in the space of seven years. He was positively gleeful about this, commenting, "How's that for some rock 'n roll?...."
Somehow, I don't think Prof. Horton would appreciate this type of exegesis.
He also disparages the Christian right in politics, especially those Christians who become discouraged or glum about particular election results. I guess that's me as I'm still praying to be able to look beyond the setbacks for America of the Obama administration. Also, I am more moralistic in my outlook, I think, than Prof. Horton would find appropriate. However, the fact that I fall under his criticisms at a couple points in no way takes away from the merit of this book. If you love the arts and sciences and love your work, whatever God Almighty has called you to do, you will be encouraged and uplifted by this book.
Again, I could barely put it down, but read it from cover to cover at two sittings.