Books on the intersection between faith and culture are not every Christian’s cup of tea, but this one, I think, should be widely helpful. It is concerned to help us navigate society’s assessment of the place of faith in our era, addressing the now widespread view that Christianity is not just passe, but harmful.
This is an issue we will all face (unless we are determined to seal ourselves off from the world), and the author handles it in an accessible way. It is shorter and more condensed than another recently released (and also very helpful) book like Carl Trueman’s The Rise & Triumph of the Modern Self, but it shares some of that book’s insights into how we got to where we are now. McAlpine addresses current big-hitters like individualism and the ‘authentic self’; the demise of the vertical (where relation to self and affiliate tribes replaces any relation to God); and the current complex interrelation between identity politics and victimhood.
Throughout, rather than just being intellectually satisfying, the book is also pastorally sensitive to the issues raised, and thoughtfully challenging to each reader. The final section concentrates on what the response could be to living in such challenging times, and I found this to be both biblical and practical. We are called to have the courage to live for Jesus when it may seem easier to compromise, and the clarity to see how the gospel continues to be exactly what our age needs most. Much of this reads like an unpacking of the familiar directive to be at the same time in, but notofthe world.
Being the Bad Guys is an articulation of how many people today understand the self, God, and the Christian testimony - and of how we must respond. It is clear, concise, biblical, and practical. I heartily recommend it.
Tom Muir, Esk Valley Church