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What we’re reading: “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues”

Steve Yount, a senior fellow with the Denison Forum, is a former newspaper editor and public-relations executive working with Christian ministries.

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“What we’re reading” is a new series from Denison Forum focusing on one of the many books in Dr. Denison’s expansive library that he or a member of the Denison Forum team has recently read.

These brief reviews are intended to give you quick context, a reason to read the book, what you can expect to take away from having read the book, a few choice quotes, and a preview of the first chapter (when available).

We hope you find this series helpful in curating your to-read shelf.


About the book

Joshua D. Chatraw, a theologian, and Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor, had the vision for Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues when they both taught at Liberty University. By bringing together a variety of Christian perspectives, they wanted to help believers look at important issues through “gospel lenses” and act accordingly.

So they solicited contributions from about fifty Christian thought leaders, including Andy Crouch, Rod Dreher, and Robert P. George, on the following topics:

  • Sexuality
  • Gender roles
  • Human life and reproductive technology
  • Immigration and race
  • Creation and creature care
  • Politics
  • Work
  • Arts
  • War, weapons, and capital punishment

Chatraw and Prior wrote introductory chapters and essays of their own; the result was a useful volume for ministers and laypeople alike.

Why Christians should read this book

Cultural Engagement will expose you to a wide variety of Christian views on important issues and help equip you to thoughtfully venture into the public square.

The big takeaway

Engaging the culture isn’t about inflammatory rhetoric; it’s about face-to-face interaction with people, including ones with different views. “Ultimately, engaging in culture is nothing more – and nothing less – than seeking the truth in order to love with a godly love,” Chatraw and Prior write.

In their own words

“I can write at length about the consequences that flow from the making of human life in the lab, but I want to suggest that there is something deeper to be considered here, namely God’s intention for children to come into the world through the physical uniting of a man and a woman. This is a deep issue to which most people have given far too little consideration.”

— Jennifer Lahl, founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, on in vitro fertilization

 “God is building his kingdom through the diaspora of people (Acts 17:26), and we get to join him by welcoming the stranger in our midst.”

Y. Liz Dong of World Relief and scholar Ben Lowe on immigration

“While we aren’t saved by our good works, we are saved for good works. Our employment is to be a theater in which we give ourselves to good works. The way we do our jobs should give evidence to the world that the gospel is transforming us from being self-centered to being God- and others-centered.”

Alex Chediak, a professor at California Baptist University, on work as a platform for evangelism

Read the first chapter