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Lauren F. Winner


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In search of a counterculture for the common good.

If there is one thing that has defined evangelical Christians, it is their volatile relationship to the cultures where they have sojourned. In America, evangelicals have at various times enjoyed everything from near hegemony to internal exile. They have abjured political power and sold pearls of great price to obtain it—often in the same lifetime. They have censored, critiqued, consumed, and copied the fruits of mass culture—sometimes all at once. They have harbored some of the most enduringly radical American voices on social responsibility and racial justice, yet in recent years their most innovative and influential leaders have been found in exurban locales of homogeneous wealth. They have produced notable scholars of history and enthusiastic popularizers of the end of the world.

It would be more honest, though, to say "we" instead of "they." As a publication of Christianity Today International, Books & Culture is very much part of the ongoing, unpredictable, sometimes combustible evangelical engagement with culture. Over the next three years we will join our sister magazines Christianity Today and Leadership Journal in the Christian Vision Project, an effort to ask three "big questions" that define critical territory in the Christian relationship to culture, mission, and the gospel. In the first year, with the generous assistance of the Pew Charitable Trusts, we focus on the question, How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good? This piquant phrase, which we have borrowed from the Rev. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, juxtaposes two neglected themes. We hope the contributions in these pages, on the website ChristianVisionProject.com that will launch in February, and in a series of DVD documentaries will spark much fruitful conversation and action.

We have asked six people to respond to this question in Books & Culture in 2006. All of them are serious and creative Christian thinkers—though not all are ...

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