Engaging the Culture, Changing the World

The Christian University in a Post-Christian World

by Philip W. Eaton

Engaging the Culture, Changing the World
paperback
  • Length: 206 pages
  • Published: May 2011
  •  In stock
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-3929-2
  • Item Code: 3929
  • Case Quantity: 48

Drawing on the social critical thinking of Lesslie Newbigin, Richard Hays, Walter Brueggemann, Richard Mouw, Richard John Neuhaus, Charles Taylor and James Davison Hunter, Philip W. Eaton proposes an alternative idea of the Christian university that aims to equip students for responsible engagement in our post-Christian context.

Going against the mainstream of Christian higher education, Eaton envisions a place that considers engagement and interaction with culture to be a positive priority. Going against the mainstream of secular higher education, Eaton envisions a place where the grand narrative of the Christian gospel is affirmed as a life-giving response to the critical issues of our day.

We need not resign ourselves to exile on the margins of society nor blend in with the pervasive secular society. Engaging the Culture, Changing the World foresees a third way: the Christian university that stands in distinction and compassion, a community that models human flourishing to the world.

"'The kingdom of God,' Jesus told his disciples, 'is advancing forcefully, and forceful men lay hold of it.' Two thousand years later, we, as Christians, are ambassadors for this same kingdom--facing confrontation with our post-Christian society. Yet we too are called to advance; we too are called to challenge; we too are called to 'take every thought captive to obey Christ.' This, and nothing less, is the very task Christ has given us to do. Phil Eaton's idea that a university might just change the world is right, and his important ideas provide us with many of the tools we will need to succeed."

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision US and author of The Hole in Our Gospel

"With keen insight from years of thoughtful reflection on the topic, Phil Eaton provides an extraordinarily powerful description of our culture torn from its roots by a cacophony of voices that have us in a sea of bewilderment. Globally, cultures have lost their way, tangled in a complex maze of disbelief, with shattered cultural mainstays strewn all about and a broken compass that can't discern a true direction. With great energy and passion Eaton challenges Christian higher education to excel with a winsome engagement of cultures with our truth claims of Scripture, to be in the world expressing love to the world but not of the world, and using appropriate language the world will understand to build trust and convey the good news, joy and hope of the gospel. This book is an absolute must-read for leaders in Christian higher education who are serious about transforming lives to impact the world for Christ and his kingdom!"

Paul R. Corts, president, Council for Christian Colleges Universities

"President Eaton sharpens the question and our response to an amorphous enemy--a culture detaching itself from its historical moorings in truth and in a God who cares. He prescribes a role for hope-filled universities to winsomely engage this culture and transform it. Yet his important message is not just for university presidents and parents preparing to write tuition checks, but for all of us who care about the society we will hand down to our grandchildren."

Barry Rowan, EVP, CFO and Chief Administrative Officer, Vonage Corporation

"Phil Eaton is a gifted and visionary leader in the world of Christian liberal arts education. This fine book is packed with wisdom that can inform and inspire all of us who care about equipping a new generation of kingdom agents for the difficult--but exciting!--challenges of our increasingly complex world."

Richard Mouw, president, Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Uncommon Decency

"Philip Eaton argues passionately that the Christian university must be reconceived, at a time when contemporary culture doubts the Christian story. He calls upon the Christian university to engage the very culture that has 'exiled' it. Now, he declares, is the moment to tell again the transforming story of the gospel, and to speak to the world a language of 'healing, wholeness and reconciliation.' The central mission of Eaton's Christian university is to equip its students with the necessary critical skills and competencies, and thus to prepare them to build a model of 'human flourishing, which will make the world a better place.' It is a compelling vision."

David Warren, president, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

"For millennia, all major cultures--including Chinese, Greek, Roman and Jewish--prized both knowledge and character. Only in our time has higher education separated the two. Phil Eaton prophetically casts a Christ-centered vision of the university that enfolds faith and function, virtue and vocation, competence and character. This is a call we must heed."

Alec Hill, president, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA

"Brace for a bold vision: Our generation may be adrift, this president says, but twenty-first-century Christian institutions of higher learning can be splendid beacons of the light our world so desperately needs--if only they have the courage and conviction to do so. This is Phil Eaton at his winsome best."

Duane Litfin, president emeritus, Wheaton College

"Philip Eaton's robust and reasoned faith in the power of Christian truth to build a world capable of fostering genuine human flourishing is at the heart of this important proposal for the renewal of Christian higher education. In a culture like our own, unsure of its grasp on the truth of anything, Eaton's portrait of the university as a truth-discovering, truth-offering institution is bracing, brave and absolutely necessary. It just might change the world."

George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

"Engaging the Culture, Changing the World offers a radiant, joyful and hopeful vision for the work of Christian higher education. I am confident that this marvelously-written resource will greatly influence the next generation of Christian educators. Attractively and engagingly presented, Phil Eaton's impressive volume will certainly find a warm welcome among Christian leaders, faculty and students alike."

David S. Dockery, president, Union University

"I would recommend this text for those who are members of Christian universities. It is good to be reminded why Christian institutions have a unique and valuable place in society. Eaton does this well. . . . I enjoyed reading this book as Eaton took me for a metaphorical walk through the halls of the Christian university."

Adam Paape, Journal of Education and Christian Belief, Spring 2012

"Every Christian educator, pastor, and parent of a high school student needs to read this book, especially if they care about transforming lives."

G. Robert Cook Jr., Enrichment, Spring 2012

"Engaging the Culture, Changing the World should be required reading for leaders in the fields of Christian higher education and theology."

Roger E. Hedlund, Dharma Deepika, July-December 2011

"Eaton has offered an eloquent vision for a Christian university."

Justus D. Doenecke, Anglican and Episcopal History, 2014
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CONTENTS

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Christian University in a Time of Exile
1 Engaging the Culture, Changing the World
2 The Stories We Tell: The American University in Crisis
3 Negotiating a World of Colliding Maps
4 What Happens When We Simply Don?t Know What to Say?
5 Campus Life Without a Guiding Story
6 The Red T-shirt and the Dinner-Table Drama
7 The Presumption of Unbelief and the Consequences
8 A World Without Easter
9 Something We?ve Never Seen Before
10 The City and That Ever-Elusive Certainty
11 Shattering Fixed Conclusions: The Power of the Imagination
12 The Gospel and Cultural Engagement
13 Paul?s Explosive Vision
14 Restoring Communities of Trust
15 Embracing the Christian Story
16 Modeling Vibrant Christian Community
17 An Alternative History, An Alternative University
18 A Story of Human Flourishing and the Work of the University
Conclusion: Veritatis Splendor
Bibliography
Index

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Philip W. Eaton (PhD, Arizona State University) is president of Seattle Pacific University. He spent years in the classroom as a professor of literature, sojourned in business for a time and returned to Christian higher education in leadership. He is a writer and speaker, is active in his city and has served on many boards—among them the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Christian College Consortium.

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