Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses culture and reaching others with Dr. Karen Swallow and Dr. Josh Chatraw. The guests recently authored, “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues.” The book provides a panoramic view of Christian responses to the pressing issues of our time. The writers explore aspects of culture including formal ideas and worldviews that are passed on, precognitive assumptions, and social and physical dimensions of life.
“We’re all swimming in this thing called culture,” Chatraw explains. “Culture is inevitable. It’s the phone I use, this radio podcast. We can’t jump out of culture; we can jump out of particular parts of culture.”
To have a historical, ideological, and intellectual framework for current cultural issues, Christians do well to educate themselves by reading. “All that good books can do for us, and even truth itself, is something we still have to receive and apply,” Swallow says. “Good books can expand our understanding and knowledge, but only if that’s what we are really pursuing. When we read good literature, we express the image of God in us. We understand ourselves and our world through language. We are narrative creatures who live our lives with an understanding of story. We are expressing our humanity and expressing God’s image within us.”
Not only reading, but listening well, is imperative in order to understand and converse regarding other perspectives. Of course, knowing Scripture is the basis for our beliefs as Christians.
As Chatraw points out, I Peter 3:15 says we should have a conversant faith that hinges upon gentleness and respect.
Johnston says, “Are you a good listener? If we’re not good listeners, we’ll never be good at evangelism. If I’m not a good listener, I’ll never be good at witnessing. I want to empathize. When you look at the episodes in the gospels, in these long conversations that Jesus had with individuals, notice what a great listener He was. What a great reminder to us today.”
Dr. Joshua D. Chatraw and Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, authors of “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues,” address hot-button issues including sexuality, gender roles, immigration, and more. Prior is a professor of English at Liberty University, and Chatraw is the director of the Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement for Liberty University.