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The evangelical world is sailing in new cultural waters. While it can be argued that the fundamentalist movement never got on the boat, evangelicalism at large has been “engaging culture” for years. They have been accustomed to dealing with culture on equal footing—accustomed to hearing and being heard, respecting and being respected. But the waters are troubled. Once unified by common causes (abortion, family values), supported by a political party (the Republicans) and following vocal leaders (Dobson, Fallwell, etc.), they now find themselves fragmented by disagreements, abandoned by the GOP and virtually leaderless. Concurrently, society’s reaction to expressions of the Christian faith has moved from bemused tolerance toward snarling animosity.
Attempting to explain the current situation and provide a roadmap through the current cultural morass to his fellow evangelicals is James Emery White with this book Christ Among the Dragons (IVP, 174 pages plus notes). White is the founder and pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC and professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Some might ask, “Professor of Culture? Why would we want to learn anything about that?” And other aspects of the book—like the dedication at the end to Billy Graham—might cause some fundamentalists to reject the book out of hand.
But that would be unfortunate.
There is much we can learn from White’s insights. His motif is the medieval mapmakers’ practice of writing “Here be dragons” upon reaching the end of the known world. His thesis is that the Church is navigating previously uncharted waters. How are believers to confront the cultural dragons of our time?
White begins his book with a discussion of society’s abandonment of the concept of truth. His conclusion will (or should) ring true with every fundamentalist: