Book Review: Christian Smith's Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture

Christian Smith is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.  He is the author of numerous books including Christian America: What Evangelicals Really Want, Evangelicals: Embattled and Thriving and very recently, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers and What Is a Person?: Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up which shares and develops themes from Moral, Believing Animals which was released in 2003.

The seven chapters of Moral, Believing Animals begin by identifying Smith’s agenda as resolving the age-old question of how to describe what it means to be a human.  Smith’s thesis is that

Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan: Summary & Review

To put words in the mouth of Vincent J. Donovan:  After a futile century of missionary strategies in Africa that centered on purchasing slaves or educating Africans, I felt compelled to pursue a different, more direct approach: to simply go to the Maasai people and talk to them about Christ (13).  I was driven by one conviction:  Christianity is of value to the world and all people have a right to hear it (1, 133).   The Maasai are an elegant, polygamous, cow-herding, monotheistic people nonetheless beset by fears about evil spirits.  When I arrived, I was met repeatedly with the question “If this is why you came, why did you wait so long to bring the message?” 

I began by expressing my belief that the Maasai were very pious already knew about God (20).  From this launching point, I attempted to convey only the essential message of Christianity, removing from it not only the accretions of Western culture (54) but also elements of biblical cultures that would prove a stumbling block such as the agricultural propaganda of the creation

Book Review: The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George Hunter

According to George Hunter III:  The way St. Patrick and those who followed in his legacy went about evangelism has much to teach us today.  Patrick’s experience in slavery among the Celts attuned him to Celtic culture and informed his approach when he returned decades later as missionary bishop.  His strategy included a team that wouldset up camp near a settlement, engage with the local leader, converse with all, pray for the sick and make open-air presentations of the gospel in culturally familiar forms including story, poetry, parable, symbol and drama, all with the goal of planting a church (21).  Church took shape as lay monastic communities that offered a visible place of hospitality free from violence (29).  Celtic Christianity (CC) prized the imminence of God and thus gave attention to the middle-level issues of life and

Evangelism after Christendom: Review and Reflections Pt. 3

According to Bryan Stone:
Evangelism, as a practice of the Spirit, is therefore  utterly pacifist in nature.  The pacifism of evangelism is not passive but arises from an eschatological trust in the Spirit who goes before the evangelist (229).  Apologetics, if an attempt to make faith compulsory on the basis of reason, fail the test of pacifism (232).  Instead, apologetics are primarily an act that seeks to reveal the beauty of holiness.  Thus the primary tasks of evangelism are “confession, proclamation and public exemplification” rather than argument and persuasion (232).  This task occurs in and through

Evangelism after Christendom: Review and Reflections Pt. 2

According to Bryan Stone:
Christian conversion is foremost an exchange of narratives. Two rival narratives have significantly shaped the social, political and economic orders and religious life of Western cultures.  The Constantinian story fuses church and world and calls for ‘realistic’ appraisal of faithful Christian living.  Constantinian-storied evangelism pragmatically values worldly power and is committed to effectiveness, control and success (125).  The second rival, the Story of Modernity, is characterized by the freedom of the individual and the ‘secular’ arenas from the influence of religion.  Modern-storied Evangelism is reduced to “church marketing” (167) and promoting the “usefulness of the gospel for “everyday living” (146).  This is commodification of salvation, and