Although the title is somewhat daunting, Transforming Christian theology : for church and society (Fortress Press, 2010), Philip Clayton (in collaboration with Tripp Fuller) has written an interesting and easy to read book. Clayton examines the current American Christian culture and it is not a pretty picture. The church in America is not faring well at this time. Most denominations are in decline and some may not survive. He outlines many serious problems with churches; however he doesn’t leave the reader to wallow in the difficulties but rather images a way forward. He places the challenge before thinking Christian to move towards a solution rather than complaining about the current state of the church.
As an Australian reader, where the Christian landscape is very different, it is difficult for me to fully connect with all Clayton’s ideas. Also I don’t live in, or near a major city where there is a greater diversity of Christian opinions. Certainly they are many similarities between the American Christian culture and the Australian Christian culture but there are also significant differences and it is hard for me to see Clayton’s ideas being accepted in the circles where I move. That is not to say they are not worthwhile but rather just not applicable to me at this time.
In spite of this, I did enjoy reading Clayton’s views and I share his concerns about the church. The book provided me with much food for thought and made me look at some of my own assumptions and prejudices. I hope this book stirs up conversations and actions that will ultimately benefit the church.