In the Western world, Christianity has gone from being seen as the option (and a good one at that) to just one of the options, and finally, to being viewed as a bad and immoral belief system Filled with helpful cultural analysis and a Biblical framework rooted in 1 Peter and Daniel, McAlpine helps his readers understand the waters they swim in. He provides a two-pronged approach to standing firm and serving Christ through strengthening the church and speaking out in the world.
- What did you make of the book? What did you agree with and what did you question?
- Christians are the ‘bad guys’, “Scripture assumes it. Jesus predicted it. The apostles experienced it. The church, in most times and in most places, has lived it. Now the baton passes to us.” (p.12). How does this challenge our assumptions concerning our identity and our place in the world?
- How does the world offer a rival gospel? (Maybe best to think of one specific example/area as McAlpine does).
- How does it seek to expose the Christian gospel as bad news?
- What does it offer as good news?
- Our culture offers an immersive and highly effective discipleship program from Monday to Saturday. As a result, we must launder “one discipleship program out of ourselves first, before we can even begin to launder the gospel discipleship program in.” (p.29). Do you agree? How does this affect the way we view/interact with culture?
- How does it help to know that the gospel doesn’t promise an easy and smooth life but one of ‘suffering now and glory later’? (pp.31-33, see also Chapter 5).
- Or to put it another way, why should we not be surprised that Christians are the ‘bad guys’? What can we learn from 1 Peter and the parable of the Sower? (pp.31-44).
- Christians can suffer for two reasons. What are they and which is the correct path? (pp.42-44).
- Why, amidst the culture wars, is it essential to remember “this world is not all there is”? (p.40).
- Why does McAlpine argue the culture wars are a clash of religion/belief?
- What motivation should we have for engaging in these discussions? What reasons do we commonly hold that we should perhaps avoid? (pp.54-68).
- What uncomfortable truths do we need to admit? What exciting opportunities arise from the changing winds? (pp.71-76).
- How does McAlpine’s strategy for church equip us for the challenges and opportunities we face? What impact does this have on your attitude towards church? (pp.93-108).
- How does Daniel provide a good framework for us to model in our engagement with the culture around us? (pp.109-124).
- What encouragements are there to be found in the tale of two cities? (pp.125-139).