Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2014, 192 pp., $13.16
Part historical review, part half-time locker room pep talk, Os Guinness provides the reader with powerful encouragement and challenge to the church. Western civilization is losing its power and influence. As Guinness says, “China and India on the rise, the Middle East in convulsions, and the long-slumbering continent of Africa stirring with promise, the days of unquestioned Western dominance are numbered” (p. 22). Unfortunately, the church in the west has been too closely identified with this dominant culture. Similar to Augustine’s experience with the fall of the Eternal City, the fall of western cultural influence seems as implausible. Guinness suggests the church currently is experiencing an Augustinian moment. In the third chapter, Guinness defines and distinguishes culture and civilization tracing the role of faith in each. If you seek a complementary read to Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times delivers. Each chapter concludes with a thoughtful prayer and discussion questions. At the close of his book, Guinness offers an Evangelical Manifesto, which is worth the price of the book! Practical and courageous, he offers and explains three elements in this manifesto: 1. We must reaffirm our identity; 2. We must reform our own behavior; and 3. We must rethink our place in public life.