Given the recent US Presidential election, the issue, let alone the practice of, civility was trampled underfoot much to the chagrin and concern of many people. In the election aftermath, with recriminations still being uttered, the big question, directly and indirectly asked is “Can we ever be civil again?”
And there is a related question being asked, “Can we find common ground to work together?” A question that is being asked not only with regard to national politics but to local community life and within the community of faith. In his newest book, Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground (Brazos, 2016) Richard Mouw brings the issue of civility and commonness to the forefront as he reflects on his intellectual journey of half-century.
It is a wonderful book one two levels: First, Mouw’s journey to reach across all sorts of lines – faith, political, and philosophical- illustrates his deep seated desire to truly find “human commoness.” Second, Mouw’s behind the scenes look at his journey as a member of the Reformed branch of Christianity and the challenges and opportunities being part of that branch brought to his life and thought is interesting and revealing.
Mouw’s journey is a journey in two worlds – the world of public life and faith. It is a journey people of faith all make – how to live into worlds that is often very, very different.
What I appreciated about this book is Mouw’s passionate endeavor to finding commonness in people as more than a humanist pursuit but as a pursuit of seeing the image of God in everyone. His quote of the late Arthur Holmes’ of living in the tension between “epistemic humility” and “epistemic hope,” resonated with me.
One of the challenges of reading this book was that Mouw’s journey takes the reader across a wide swath of 20th century philosophy, politics, and theology. He engages in a dialogue with the reader and with those he admires and respects as well as with those he disagrees with. So it was hard to follow his line of thought at times.
However, this is a rich book of one whose Christian faith, combined with deep thinking, was the basis for engaging society on the important issues of the day from a view that every human being is created in the image of God. I think that Mouw’s journey needs to be noted and studied.
I liked this book for both the warmhearted faith and deep thinking about the foundational principles of human existence that vast implications of those principles. It would make a great text book for seminary classes in the study of contemporary religious thought as well as understanding one key insiders’ view of contemporary American Calvinism.
I gave Adventures in Evangelical Civility three stars on Goodreads.
Note: I received an electronic galley copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.