Every Square Inch
An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians
Bruce Riley Ashford
This is a great little book. Ashford, Provost and Dean of the Faculty at SEBTS, writes, as the title suggests, from a kuyperian approach. He has written this
‘ ... for Christians who wish to live faithfully in their cultural contexts. It shows how all of life matters to God, and how every Christian can serve powerfully as a representative of Christ, even if he or she is not an international missionary or a pastor.’
He credits Kuyper with giving him his first insight into ‘the fact that Jesus Christ is relevant to every dimension of society and culture, and that for this reason we should allow our Christianity to shape absolutely everything we do.’ It is from this impulse that he has written this great introduction.
Although writing as an American for Americans, the insights he draws do have global relevance.
The first part of the book looks at different ways in which Christians have approached culture. He utilises, as any good kuyperian would, the framework of creation, fall and redemption to articulate a Christian view of culture and a ‘theology’ of vocation. He then draws lessons for cultural engagement from the lives of Augustine, Balthasar Hubmaier, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Francis Schaeffer, and of course Kuyper.
The second part applies these principles to the cultural areas of the arts, science, politics, economics and education. He closes with three key questions:
1.What is God’s creational design for this realm of culture?
2.How has it been corrupted and misdirected by our sin and rebellion?
3.How can I bring healing and redirection to this realm?
These are important questions and this book will help Christians begin to be able to articulate answers to them.
This is a great introduction and deserves a wide readership. The strength of the book is that it is short and easy to read. Its weakness is it’s short — I wanted more! But that is remedied by additional suggestions for action and reading at the end of each chapter. This makes it an ideal book for a discussion group.