Russell Moore’s recent release Onward is a very engaging read. Dr. Moore has managed to write a book that challenges those inside the church who are fighting the culture wars and those on the outside with whom those wars are supposedly fought. I doubt that either group would be totally comfortable with what he writes on the pages of this new book.
The challenge to engage the culture without losing the Gospel is the subtitle of the book and the main premise of it. I found the ideas presented by Dr. Moore to be both refreshing and surprising. I don’t know what I expected when I began to read the book late in the summer, but I definitely didn’t think I would find so much common ground. However that common ground definitely looked a little different because he forced me to see it from a different angle.
The centrality of the Gospel is not new nor was it surprising as this has been a focal point for Dr. Moore for many years. The surprising point was the idea of fighting the culture war with kindness and the call to remember that we can’t share the message of Jesus without sharing it with the tone of Jesus too. This has been the experience I have had with many cultural warriors in the pulpits of our churches. My context of ministry on the college campus tends to put me in contact with a majority of people who don’t agree with the street preachers and pundits of moral majority. Dr. Moore advocates a different approach that if followed just might win a few of them into the kingdom of God instead of pushing them further away from actually hearing the voice of Jesus.
Culture continues to change and that change will increasingly make it clear which side we are on. Dr. Moore is not advocating backing down on our moral positions or making concessions to the culture on Biblical truth. Instead he suggests that we present the truth while remembering that the persons on the other side of the arguments are not the real enemy. That thought alone is worth reading the entire book!
I highly encourage you to read this book if you are serious about the influence of the church on culture or you are worried about the influence of the culture on the church. It’s not necessarily an easy read. You have to stay with it and you have to engage your mind as you read. That may be what made it a great book in my opinion!