Jonathan Morrow’s new book, Think Christianly seeks to provide Christians with ways to think about and interact with the culture surrounding them, while critically exploring their own perspectives.
Central to the work is the notion that “Due to the unprecedented influence and availability of constant media… the thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, convictions, values, and lifestyles of those inside the church are rapidly growing indistinguishable from… those outside the church” (19). The key is to see how to help Christians “think Christianly” about every aspect of life. The Christian life is not “Sunday only” or “in church only” but rather it is an every day, every second, every interaction life. Morrow, throughout the book, seeks to touch upon nearly every area of Christian interactions with culture, providing brief introductions along with recommendations for a way forward in each area.
Part one of Think Christianly focuses on our own culture and the need to equip the next generation to interact with the issues brought up around them. Morrow provides a survey of ways people try to avoid interacting with Christianity (54ff) and suggests a threefold way to engage with our youths so they do not fall victim to the challenges to our faith. This threefold engagement is composed of 1) mentors, “people to learn from and imitate in the faith” (57); 2) peers, “people to run the race with and to spur us on” (57); and 3) a robust Christian worldview, a challenge to youths to explore what they believe and why it matters (58). Conjoined, these help provide a valuable base for youths to explore their faith among their peers and mentors who can guide them towards resources and answer questions.
Part two provides ways to integrate the Christian worldview into every aspect of one’s life. Chapter four discusses three worldviews- naturalism, postmodernism, and Christian theism. These are the worldviews pervasive currently in western cultures, and Morrow provides several ways to interact with the competing views and analyze them. Chapter five provides ways to “cultivate a thoughtful faith” and chapter six provides some ways to be confident about engagement (along with a helpful discussion of forgiveness and breaking away from anger on pages 98-99). Part Two continues with a couple chapters about living like Jesus, which are extremely insightful–we need to be sure we think of Jesus as who He was and is: the Lord of all professions, master of all crafts. Finally, part two wraps up with what may be the most important chapter of the book: “Can We Do That in Church?” Morrow argues that we must see “The local church” as “God’s vehicle to reach the world with the good news… it is also the primary place where Christians are to be equipped for the ministry” (130). By utilizing some small portion in time in church to equip believers to engage, Christian leaders can radically change the perception of Christianity as a “Sunday only” venture. If believers do not get equipped, where will they be equipped? The truth is they’ll “google it” and find people without good credentials or intentions and learn from them instead (not saying there’s nothing good online–plenty of scholars and wonderful teachers are out there, but sifting through the muck can be difficult). This chapter, I think, is the most important in the whole book and provides a number of insights that church leaders must take to heart.
Part three provides a number of areas in which Christians need to engage and ways to engage with them. For example, taking the Bible seriously is a top priority and Christians need to know how to interact with the text. Of particular importance are the chapters on sex–which talks about porn addiction and same-sex attraction; and Christianity in the public square.
Morrow has peppered the book with brief interviews of leading Christian thinkers on a number of topics. While short, these interviews provide a number of great insights and will lead readers to explore many issues in greater detail. They range from “Leveraging the Internet to Make God Known” (with Randall Niles) to “Jesus Among World Religions” (with Craig Hazen), and beyond. Another helpful aspect are the lists of resources for further study, included at the end of each chapter. These include a list of books, DVDs, and websites for interested readers to explore.
There are few books that span as broadly as Think Christianly while also giving solid background discussions of each topic touched. Morrow continually provides valuable insights at a basic level which Christians can apply right now to start to “Think Christianly” about every aspect of life. If our churches and the members therein embrace many of the suggestions found in Morrow’s important book, we will be able to grow and positively impact the world in a major way. The book comes very highly recommended–it is the kind of book anyone involved in the church must have on their shelf and seek to apply to their lives.
I received a review copy of the book from Zondervan publishers. My thanks to Zondervan for the opportunity to review the book. I was not asked to write anything positive or negative about the book.
Think Christianly is available on Amazon (follow link) or at many local bookstores.