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Is Some Form of Secularism the Best Foundation for Christian Engagement in Public Life?

Controversy

Abstract

“I don’t see that Christ was a patsy. He was ambitious.” So said Don Soderquist, a Wal-Mart executive and evangelical Christian, in an interview for Faith in the Halls of Power, a book by the sociologist D. Michael Lindsay. The remark is good news for a certain kind of American striver: not only may one be both a Christian and a powerful executive, but in taking the path to corporate success one follows in the footsteps of the Lord. This and other versions of the success gospel prevalent in America today are but symptoms of a chronic sickness whereby Christianity is made to serve the ends of the individual’s public life. This sickness severely compromises the integrity of Christian language, worship, and community, at times attenuating their strength, at other times utterly perverting them. Because of the damage this sickness can do, American Christians need to impose a form of secularism on themselves as a therapeutic measure.

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