I just finished a fine book entitled, Chameleon Christianity: Moving Beyond Safety and Conformity by Dick Keyes. This short work looks at two extremes of how Christians interact with culture. He speaks of chameleons, who refuse to be "salt" and end up looking just like the world. He also talks about musk oxen who depart from the world with a warring, hostile posture, not being lights (Mt. 5:13-16). Quite helpful about the book is his quite accurate, yet disturbing, description of impotent, "tribal Christianity." Keyes apparently is an egalitarian and has an axe to grind, it seems, but I can definitely understand his concerns and can apply what he says in my own, complementarian way. The chapter on community is worth the price of the book. In another chapter, he laments the church's imitation of the world in the pursuit of psychotherapy and management techniques; a pastor is now a shrink and a CEO. There is a helpful explanation of, along with answers to, pluralism, relativism, and tolerance in a later chapter. But, again, the book shines primarily in exposing the way most Christians flee the world for safety. Some quotes:
"Both the compromising of the chameleon and the tribalizing of the musk ox limit the painful experience of being aliens and exiles in the world. Both remove the interface of relationships that could produce friction between Christian and non-Christian. And both derive primary security not from God but from human social comfort" (p. 17).
"Often when when rules multiply, those that occupy most of our attention are the least significant. 'And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?' Jesus asked (Matthew 15:3). He spent much of his time showing how intricate Sabbath prohibitions blocked God's command to love one's neighbor" (p. 45).
"The tribal mistake is not that Christians have taken moral principles into the political arena and fought hard for them. This is our responsibility. Rather the error is that within the tribal attitude of jihad, God's commandments to love are scorned and forgotten" (p. 48).
"Unlike community a lifestyle enclave is restricted in two senses: It has to do with private life or leisure time, not public life, and it is restricted to those who share some aspect of one's lifestyle. In Bellah's words, it 'celebrates the narcissism of similarity'" (p. 89).
"Our source of safety lies neither in being comfortably accepted by the world nor in being smugly isolated from it. In fact, the common flaw in both sides of the polarization is ultimately the same-- a worldliness that seeks secruity from this world more than from God himself" (p. 109).