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The post-Christian world we inhabit today presents us with a mundane and disenchanted view of reality. Under the sway of materialism and science, we have been left with a way of seeing, thinking, and living that has no place for beauty and wonder. We now live in a world bereft of magic and mystery. Many--including many Christians--no longer perceive the world in its proper The post-Christian world we inhabit today presents us with a mundane and disenchanted view of reality. Under the sway of materialism and science, we have been left with a way of seeing, thinking, and living that has no place for beauty and wonder. We now live in a world bereft of magic and mystery. Many--including many Christians--no longer perceive the world in its proper light. As a result, the Christian imagination is muted. Moreover, the church has grown anti-intellectual and sensate, out of touch with the relevancy of Jesus and how to relate the gospel to all aspects of contemporary life. As a result, the Christian voice is muted. In this age Christian wholeness remains elusive, blunting the church's ability to present a winsome and compelling witness for faith. As a result, the Christian conscience is muted. Cultural Apologetics addresses this malaise by setting forth a fresh model for cultural engagement, rooted in the biblical account of Paul's speech on Mars Hill, which details practical steps for reestablishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination. Readers will be equipped to see, and help others see, the world as it is--deeply beautiful, mysterious, and sacred. With creative insights, Cultural Apologetics prepares readers to share a vision of the Christian faith that is both plausible and desirable, offering clarity for those who have become disoriented in the haze of modern Western culture.


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The post-Christian world we inhabit today presents us with a mundane and disenchanted view of reality. Under the sway of materialism and science, we have been left with a way of seeing, thinking, and living that has no place for beauty and wonder. We now live in a world bereft of magic and mystery. Many--including many Christians--no longer perceive the world in its proper The post-Christian world we inhabit today presents us with a mundane and disenchanted view of reality. Under the sway of materialism and science, we have been left with a way of seeing, thinking, and living that has no place for beauty and wonder. We now live in a world bereft of magic and mystery. Many--including many Christians--no longer perceive the world in its proper light. As a result, the Christian imagination is muted. Moreover, the church has grown anti-intellectual and sensate, out of touch with the relevancy of Jesus and how to relate the gospel to all aspects of contemporary life. As a result, the Christian voice is muted. In this age Christian wholeness remains elusive, blunting the church's ability to present a winsome and compelling witness for faith. As a result, the Christian conscience is muted. Cultural Apologetics addresses this malaise by setting forth a fresh model for cultural engagement, rooted in the biblical account of Paul's speech on Mars Hill, which details practical steps for reestablishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination. Readers will be equipped to see, and help others see, the world as it is--deeply beautiful, mysterious, and sacred. With creative insights, Cultural Apologetics prepares readers to share a vision of the Christian faith that is both plausible and desirable, offering clarity for those who have become disoriented in the haze of modern Western culture.

30 review for Cultural Apologetics: Renewing the Christian Voice, Conscience, and Imagination in a Disenchanted World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Curby Graham

    Cultural apologetics is a relatively new field and this book, along with Dr. Holly Ordway's Cultural Apologetics, is a landmark work that anyone interested in the topic of apologetics should get and read carefully. Paul Gould has his Ph.D in Philosophy from Purdue and teaches philosophy and apologetics. This book is a distillation of his thinking over the years on the topic of how Christians should evangelize. He points out that we live in a "disenchanted" world and part of our role as Christian Cultural apologetics is a relatively new field and this book, along with Dr. Holly Ordway's Cultural Apologetics, is a landmark work that anyone interested in the topic of apologetics should get and read carefully. Paul Gould has his Ph.D in Philosophy from Purdue and teaches philosophy and apologetics. This book is a distillation of his thinking over the years on the topic of how Christians should evangelize. He points out that we live in a "disenchanted" world and part of our role as Christians is to work to re-enchant the world by addressing imagination, reason and conscience. I will be adding his material to the apologetics course I teach and recommending this book as widely as possible.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Todd Miles

    My new favorite apologetics book. It will become a required text in my Apologetics and Contemporary Issues class.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Bruyn

    Comprehensive An unusually clear synthesis of truth, goodness and beauty as apologetic arguments. Excellent summary of recent works on culture, too.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Clemente_in_right

    Paul Gould has done an excellent job of delineating both the joyful task of spreading the love of Christ and the cultural challenges facing Christ followers in doing just that. Using the apostle Paul's work in the city of Athens as described in Acts chapter 17, Gould lays out a model for thoughtfully engaging the people around us. While this is a broad reaching book (the bibliography is over 12 pages in length), Gould is masterful at pointing discussion squarely to the question that matters: wha Paul Gould has done an excellent job of delineating both the joyful task of spreading the love of Christ and the cultural challenges facing Christ followers in doing just that. Using the apostle Paul's work in the city of Athens as described in Acts chapter 17, Gould lays out a model for thoughtfully engaging the people around us. While this is a broad reaching book (the bibliography is over 12 pages in length), Gould is masterful at pointing discussion squarely to the question that matters: what do you make of Jesus Christ? Though this is a work of scholarly effort, Gould's ability to explain complex philosophical ideas makes this accessible even to those without a rich philosophical background. Highly recommended for followers of Christ and for seekers looking for truth.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Contends that in our disenchanted post-modern world, the apologist needs to engage in a culturally aware apologetic that appeals to goodness, truth, and beauty. One thing anyone engaged in Christian witness for any length of time in a western cultural setting will tell you is that the landscape has changed. While the message of the gospel has not changed, the culture in which the message is shared has. Paul Gould's one word description of that change is "disenchantment." From a world sho Summary: Contends that in our disenchanted post-modern world, the apologist needs to engage in a culturally aware apologetic that appeals to goodness, truth, and beauty. One thing anyone engaged in Christian witness for any length of time in a western cultural setting will tell you is that the landscape has changed. While the message of the gospel has not changed, the culture in which the message is shared has. Paul Gould's one word description of that change is "disenchantment." From a world shot through with the presence and majesty of God, the embrace of materialism and naturalism as all-encompassing accounts of the world results in a sense of the absence and irrelevance of God, and a culture that is sensate, focused on the physical senses, and hedonistic, focused on our desires. I found this intriguing, particularly considering the growing fascination with dystopian apocalypses, and conversely,  with fantasy and alternate worlds, that might suggest a longing for re-enchantment or despair of its possibility. Gould contends that in this context, there is still a place for apologetics, but not that of past generations, focused exclusively on rational evidences, although these still have a place in Gould's proposal. Gould contends for what he calls as cultural apologetics. By this, he means the "work of establishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and satisfying (italics in text)." The author believes that a cultural apologetic that does this appeals to a universal longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. It is an apologetic that appeals to the longing of truth through reason (voice), that appeals to the longing of goodness through conscience, and that appeals to the longing for beauty through the imagination. The aim of this to foster the awakening of desire (satisfying) and a return to reality (truth) that constitutes a "re-enchantment" eventuating in the decision to trust and follow Christ. Gould focuses a chapter each on imagination, reason, and conscience, employing C.S. Lewis's approach of both "looking at," and "looking along," the latter considering the reality to which truth, goodness, and beauty point. The chapter on imagination draws upon Makoto Fujimura's Culture Care (reviewed here), that makes the case for how beauty may open the hearts of people to faith, exemplified in Masaaki Suzuki's recognition that the music of Bach is a kind of "fifth gospel" that has led to interest in or the embrace of Christianity among many Japanese. The chapter on reason contends there is a case to be made for recovering the lost art of persuasion and sounds at first glance the most conventional of the three. However, Gould moves beyond classic arguments to appeal to the plausibility structures and sacred cores of one's hearers. The appeal to conscience addresses the longings for goodness, wholeness, justice, and significance and seeks to demonstrate in practice and examples how Christianity has made the world a better place and why that is so. Addressing barriers to belief is an important part of this approach. It includes the internal barriers of anti-intellectualism, fragmentation, and unbaptized imagination within the Christian community. It also involves the external barriers of the belief that science disproves God, that objects to the exclusivity of Jesus, that believes God is not good, and considers the ethic of the Bible archaic, repressive, and unloving. Gould offers brief responses to each of these barriers and then describes the "journey home" from initial enchantment through disenchantment to re-enchantment as we join the "dance of God." One of the things I appreciated about this work amid the strains of anti-intellectualism in significant swaths of evangelicalism was the affirmation of intellectual leadership. He writes, "If we are to be strategic in our cultural apologetic, we must work to cultivate Christian leadership and a Christian presence within the halls of the academy. The perceived reasonableness and desirability of Christianity depends upon how effectively we accomplish this task" (p. 143). I also appreciate the integrated appeal to goodness, truth, and beauty. It seems that we often prefer one of these to the inclusion. If reasoning about truth alone is not helpful, abandon it for beauty or goodness. Gould recognizes that to be human means we long for all three. Also, the posture of culture care, as opposed to culture clash assumes that people are drawn by desire rather than overcome by arguments. Finally, Gould reframes rather than retreats from the apologetic task. It seems to me that this is vital in an age where many are not merely indifferent to Christianity but vigorously opposed, and willing to make a case against the Christian faith. He reframes apologetics in a way that challenges the church to live into its heritage: to abandon trivial banality for a rich artistic imagination, to abandon a slovenly anti-intellectualism for vibrant intellectual engagement, and to abandon moral compromise for a fragrant goodness. It seems to me this would be good both for the church and the world. ________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Atwood

    This is an excellent book. It has given me several patterns of thought affirming Gods calling in my life into more creativity. I will return to Gould’s ideas often and recommend this work to anyone seeking to understand and speak Truth to the western culture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    So often, it seems, Christianity is defined as what we are against, rather than what we are for, and we are depicted as angry, raging, antagonistic, and judgmental. Who would want to be part of that? The mission of cultural apologetics is to engage culture in a winsome and intelligent way, and to establish the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and inviting and satisfying. This is a fascinating and helpful book, that encourages ways So often, it seems, Christianity is defined as what we are against, rather than what we are for, and we are depicted as angry, raging, antagonistic, and judgmental. Who would want to be part of that? The mission of cultural apologetics is to engage culture in a winsome and intelligent way, and to establish the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and inviting and satisfying. This is a fascinating and helpful book, that encourages ways to resurrect the relevance of Christianity and the hope that we offer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I was disappointed to realize that the "audiobook" for Paul M. Gould's Cultural Apologetics is actually series of lectures given by Gould, and not the full text of the book itself. I assume the content covered in the lectures is largely the same as the book, so not a huge deal, but still, know that this is a review of the recorded lectures and not the book itself. Beyond that, I found this rather underwhelmed, for two reasons: first, it functions largely as synthesis of existing apologetics conce I was disappointed to realize that the "audiobook" for Paul M. Gould's Cultural Apologetics is actually series of lectures given by Gould, and not the full text of the book itself. I assume the content covered in the lectures is largely the same as the book, so not a huge deal, but still, know that this is a review of the recorded lectures and not the book itself. Beyond that, I found this rather underwhelmed, for two reasons: first, it functions largely as synthesis of existing apologetics concepts (from thinkers like Andy Crouch, Ken Myers, and C.S. Lewis) but doesn't substantially build on the existing work. This is not necessarily a flaw, as having all the influences of the cultural apologetics school of though gathered and ordered together will certainly be valuable for some, but as I was already familiar with many of the books Gould quotes, more substance and fewer citations would have been appreciated. Second, and more substantially, Gould's proposal of a "cultural apologetics" seems to be a combination of the firm confidence in reason's ability to access objectivity and absolute truth that marks conventional apologetics with a variety of sociological, philosophical, and scientific sources that complicate that very same confidence in objective reason. It's a weird marriage, not necessarily impossible, but certainly in tension. What's frustrating is that I get the sense that Gould is either unaware, or discounting, the effects of that tension for his project. I've written before about the way certain evangelical scholars borrow from thinkers like Charles Taylor and James K.A. Smith to diagnose "our secular age" or the importance of liturgy for Christian formation but overlook or reject the epistemological implications of both of their projects. Of course, in these lectures, Gould cites both. Similarly, in a strange section, Gould describes Alastair MacIntyre's After Virtue as "masterful", then promptly reduces MacIntyre's project to a diagnosis that "reason, virtue, and traditional notions of proper function no longer direct contemporary society" only to segway into the famous Benedict quote at the end of the book, only to segway into Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option, only to dismiss it as 1) not an effective way to change culture and 2) not "sufficiently missional". Gould: "Widescale withdrawal from culture shaping institutions is not a positive proposal for cultural engagement." Well, yes. That's the whole point. Dreher (following MacIntyre) is working from a fundamentally different understanding of the impact of modernity than Gould, and the BenOp is seeking (in Dreher's words, here) a "historically conscious, antimodernist return to roots, an undertaking that occurs with the awareness that Christians have to cultivate a sense of separation." There are good reasons to be critical of the BenOp, and good reasons to be critical of MacIntyre's project, but to fail to even acknowledge that it's working towards different aims from a different understanding of the church's relationship to modernity is a questionable choice, and I'm left wondering to what extend Gould has wrestled with MacIntyre, not to mention Taylor. Finally, and this is neither here nor there, but if you took a shot every time Gould referenced C.S. Lewis, you'd be spectacularly drunk by the end of the fourth lecture, and dead of alcohol poisoning by the end of the lecture series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Watson

    I've read a lot of books on Christian apologetics, and this is one of the more enjoyable ones to read. That is a credit to Gould's writing style and the interesting nature of the book, which is an attempt to answer the question stated on page 15: "How does the gospel get a fair hearing in this day and age?" Gould defines "cultural apologetics" as "the work of establishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and satisfying" (p. 21 I've read a lot of books on Christian apologetics, and this is one of the more enjoyable ones to read. That is a credit to Gould's writing style and the interesting nature of the book, which is an attempt to answer the question stated on page 15: "How does the gospel get a fair hearing in this day and age?" Gould defines "cultural apologetics" as "the work of establishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and satisfying" (p. 21). In short, Gould recognizes that Christians have some work to do before others will be willing to hear the gospel and consider that it's a plausible account of reality. In a "disenchanted" world in which Christianity isn't taken seriously, Christians must work at "reenchantment." The Christian apologist must use the "signs of transcendence" to awake those who have suppressed the truth about God. Such signs of transcendence include beauty, reason, and conscience. A naturalistic worldview cannot properly account for these things, though Christianity can. There's much more to this book, but hopefully that will interest readers who are interested in evangelism and apologetics. This book should be read in conjunction with other books that provide sound defenses of Christianity and arguments for the existence of God.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Brackbill

    This is not really an audiobook. He gives lectures through the content of the book (in a halting way that makes it difficult to listen to at times). It was not completely clear to me how cultural apologetics differs from the other philosophies of apologetics. He claimed that it can work with all of them (classic, evidentialist, presuppositionalism, etc.). What is clear to me is that he has an overly positive view of the persuadability of spiritually dead people. There are helpful thoughts here i This is not really an audiobook. He gives lectures through the content of the book (in a halting way that makes it difficult to listen to at times). It was not completely clear to me how cultural apologetics differs from the other philosophies of apologetics. He claimed that it can work with all of them (classic, evidentialist, presuppositionalism, etc.). What is clear to me is that he has an overly positive view of the persuadability of spiritually dead people. There are helpful thoughts here if you are thinking theologically, but because he was not rooting everything in Scripture he often has an optimistic view of the reception of the gospel through the removal of obstacles that simply is not defensible biblically. But the gospel is not going to be "relevant" and the culture cannot be made receptive to the gospel. The gospel is relevant whether or not it is perceived to be so and fallen humanity will never be receptive to the gospel unless there is a work of grace by God through the word of grace. No doubt he would not deny this, but as far as I could tell by listening, this conviction did not inform the underlying fabric of argumentation in this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Chang

    Simply loved this book. This book outlines the framework for cultural apologetics and how as Christians, we are called to bring beauty, truth, and goodness to a disenchanted world. Gould outlines each aspect of beauty, truth, and goodness and argues how the Christian faith brings fullness in all three of these aspects. Something I appreciated is how he doesn’t share on what Christians should do to reach a disenchanted world but how we should think and perceive. I will say that he doesn’t go into e Simply loved this book. This book outlines the framework for cultural apologetics and how as Christians, we are called to bring beauty, truth, and goodness to a disenchanted world. Gould outlines each aspect of beauty, truth, and goodness and argues how the Christian faith brings fullness in all three of these aspects. Something I appreciated is how he doesn’t share on what Christians should do to reach a disenchanted world but how we should think and perceive. I will say that he doesn’t go into each aspect in a comprehensive way but he does bring some level of basic principle. Probably will need to revisit some sections of the book like moral and reason as they were pretty dense for myself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J.J. Richardson

    I listened to the audio-book version of this which was done directly by the author. This is a little bit of a different style of book in that it's not a book. It's actually a set of 15 lectures that Paul Gould gives on Christian Cultural Apologetics. However Gould is a gifted speaker and the lectures aren't remotely boring if you're interested in the subject. I enjoyed it so much, the next time I listen to this won't be in my car but at my desk taking notes so I can attempt to retain and apply m I listened to the audio-book version of this which was done directly by the author. This is a little bit of a different style of book in that it's not a book. It's actually a set of 15 lectures that Paul Gould gives on Christian Cultural Apologetics. However Gould is a gifted speaker and the lectures aren't remotely boring if you're interested in the subject. I enjoyed it so much, the next time I listen to this won't be in my car but at my desk taking notes so I can attempt to retain and apply more of it to my studies and personal evangelism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter Dray

    Great holistic approach to apologetics, engaging rationality, conscience and imagination. I'm absolutely convinced of the need for this approach today, especially amongst younger adults. The only thing that stopped me from giving five stars was the sheer amount of CS Lewis quotes: I love Lewis as much as the next person but the book would have benefited from a wider range of voices encapsulating the same points that Lewis makes!

  14. 4 out of 5

    pianogal

    I liked most of the one. I thought the first half was really good, and it ended strong. However, the middle got a little too academic for me. The author made some good arguments, but I would say that no one outside of academia would care. I didn't and I already love Jesus. He's not wrong, but it became dry and hard to follow. When this book is really good it's really good. The middle is just a little off for me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laurent Dv

    Show how christians can present Christianity as being attractive because it alone can quench our longing for rationality (making sense of things), beauty and good. As Gould states, he presents what cultural apologetics looks like as opposed to traditionnal apologetics (proofs for the existence of God etc) : it focus on making Christianity both plausible (or reasonable) AND appealing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Roberts

    This was a solid book with several good points. While I am not 100% in agreement with all of Dr. Gould’s ideas it did make me think. I did learn and many other people could learn from this too! Recommended

  17. 4 out of 5

    Keith Nadig

    Interesting; but a bit heavy at times. This book is well thought out and thoroughly researched. A fairy easy book to read and understand; but can get a bit heavy (subject matter wise) at times.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Herriott

    This is a concise book, perfect for college undergrads, and those looking to take the initial dive into this area of thought. Gould does not lose the reader in the ongoing argument or thought leaders. He has a very approachable style.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Dr. Gould has written a great book that shows that Christianity is not only reasonable but satisfying. A book well worth reading if you want to have your affections and desires (as well as your mind) stirred again by the Christian story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan Smale

    Outstanding, understandable, and challenging. A great outline for how to offer an apologetic within the context of the local and global culture of the 21st century. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenna H.

    Fascinating and soul-stirring read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    Interesting but not earth shattering. His sources, esp C.S. Lewis and Pascal, are more profound. This seems aimed at missionaries.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caden

    This is an excellent book. I am thankful to have gotten to read this before its release and also to have studied under Dr. Gould for a short while. Whether you are a student seeking to grow your knowledge of Christian apologetics or simply a believer wanting to know how better to defend your faith, this book is for you. Dr. Paul Gould‘s work helps not only to give practical tools toward a robust defense of the Christian faith, it also presents a philosophy of imagination that will help believers This is an excellent book. I am thankful to have gotten to read this before its release and also to have studied under Dr. Gould for a short while. Whether you are a student seeking to grow your knowledge of Christian apologetics or simply a believer wanting to know how better to defend your faith, this book is for you. Dr. Paul Gould‘s work helps not only to give practical tools toward a robust defense of the Christian faith, it also presents a philosophy of imagination that will help believers present their faith as rational, practical, and beautiful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Collin Hansen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rusty

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jayakar Charles

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Hochhalter

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Canipe

  29. 5 out of 5

    BP Lim

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

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