Book Review: Living in God’s Two Kingdoms

I was really excited when I saw this book on the new release list. I had been in recent conversations with friends about how they were personally engaging the culture, and I attend a church that seeks to “engage the city”, and used to attend a church (before I moved) that modeled engaging the city and culture very well. I was intrigued to see what David VanDrunen had to say about Living in God’s Two Kingdomws (btw, the cover design is really cool).
VanDrunen does a good job at laying out the outline of his book, telling you exactly where he is heading. He engages some of the opposing views and arguments that basically are the foundation of this new “area of theological discussion” (Neo-Calvinism, Emerging Churches, but this is not exhaustive).
I personally do not fully agree with either side. I think one side takes it too far, and one side doesn’t go far enough. Finally, though, the author basically states three ways that Christians are to engage the culture, how a Christian should live successfully as sojourners in this land we call “culture” .
1. “Christians should pursue cultural activities not with a spirit of triumph and conquest over their neighbors but with a spirit of love and service toward them.” (p 124). Wow – I think this is probably the toughest one of his three and I wholeheartedly agree. Even our redeemed status doesn’t make us perfect yet, and I personally often struggle with motive.
2. “The New Testament calls us to critical engagement with human culture.” (p 126) I almost wish his whole book would camp out on this point. This is where I try to engage the culture. I learned this well from a friend and professor at SEBTS, and I love reading through secular books, watching movies, and looking at art with this critical mind at work.
3. “The New Testament calls us to engage in cultural activities with a deep sense of detachment from this world and of longing for our true home in the world to come.” (p 126) This is probably the hardest for me to deal with on a personal level. As I get more into style, design, photography, clothing, I tend to step back into a materialistic mindset which the Lord has saved me from, but Satan likes to wedge his foot in my mind.
While the author does a good job at bringing in cultural examples and has a personable writing style (unlike some theological books on differing subjects), I think VanDrunen could have made this a shorter book and made his argument more simple for the non-theological to grasp.
A word for all Christians: you can’t engage the world by separating yourself from it. Home-schooling families who only allow their children to be friends with other Christians, people who will never go to movies, read secular books, watch television, own ipods, allow their teenagers on social networks…this is no way to engage the culture. Read more on VanDrunen’s point #2.
Wherever you land in this discussion: one thing is for sure: We are to be shining lights in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2)

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About kimddavidson

I am bought with the blood of Christ and being graced every day to know Him more. I am a writer. Love to read, run, hang out, watch movies, cook, bake, work hard/play harder. God is so abundantly good to me.
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