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George Barna and Mark Hatch: Boiling Point

Barna and Hatch urge the churches to prepare and respond to the rapid cultural shifts in America. The pessimism inherent in Boiling Point is a necessary instrument to achieve the authors’ goals. Some may not be able to identify with Jill’s character, and perhaps that is a sign that Barna’s vision of society has not yet fully embraced everyone. On the other hand, those who can identify with Barna’s vision will likely find it difficult to escape the situation without the help of others. It is in this sense that the book can be seen as a valuable teaching tool. Already, the book has found its way on the reading list of many Evangelical colleges and universities, pastors, evangelists and church leaders. This indicates the timeliness of the matters discussed in the book. However, Evangelicals alone will achieve little to withstand the changing beliefs and attitudes of American society today. The Catholic Church pointed to the rapid cultural shifts in the world already in its Vatican II document The Church in the Modern World (1964) with an equal sense of urgency. Among Catholics and Protestants, many groups continue to urge the churches to engage positively and confidently in cultural change. Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has begun a worldwide campaign of new evangelization in which it addresses the split between gospel and culture. Boiling Point is a fascinating illustration of the same circumstances from a North American Evangelical perspective in the 21st century. This repeated emphasis on the need to reconcile Church and culture should be taken seriously by Catholics and Protestants alike. At the dawn of the new millennium, the churches are asked to learn how to interpret and anticipate the spiritual needs of the world in order to meet them. Many churches would benefit from a discussion of the material contained in this book. The vision painted by the authors may not apply to every place and people in the United States. Nonetheless, an interaction with this work in the sanctuaries and classrooms of American churches could keep the Church from boiling over and help Jill to be less anxious about the future.

Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2005

About the Author: Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Professor of Christian Theology and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an ordained minister with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). His research focuses on ecclesiology, pneumatology, theological method, and the intersection of theology and science.

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