<< Previous | 3 of 3 | Next >>

Regular Columns

Letter from America

A book which deserves a much longer review is James Davidson Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Later Modern World.

Letter from America Josh Moody

As I say, I cannot possibly do this book justice in these few words, other than to say that if you are interested in the problem of cultural change in our day you really should read it. I don’t agree with everything that Hunter says. For instance, it is frustrating that Hunter (so sure footed elsewhere) makes if not monumental gaffes in historical summary, at least takes a particular side in the historical debate about particular events without seeming to realise that the side he is taking is far from non-controversial. He seems to regard it as an open and shut case that Luther was at least partly responsible for the German genocide of the Jews, and that Calvin was entirely responsible for the judicial execution of Servetus on religious grounds. As a historian (admittedly my period being a century or so later among the Puritans and the early Evangelical Awakening), those two statements are debatable and not to be taken at face value. That frustrates me, because to some extent it undoes a lot of the good work that Hunter does, of significant service to the church. Talking of the Puritans, you would also think that a brief survey of Protestantism would mention them quite a bit, especially writing as an American.