CONNECTED CHRISTIANITY: Engaging Culture Without Compromise – Art G. Arzurdia

Connected Christianity is a refreshing look at the responsibility before Christ-followers in godless culture.  Art Arzurdia writes with the patience of a tender-hearted pastor and the depth and breadth of a well-grounded Reformed theologian.

He addresses the mission of every Christian, namely to stand as a bright light and offer the purifying saltiness of a biblically informed disciple.  Arzurdia is clear concerning the mandate: “To remain in this world for the express purpose of declaring to it the saving benefits secured by the conquest of Jesus Christ … His clarion call for them [disciples] was to a worldly Christianity.”

Some readers might jump to an unwarranted critical conclusion of Arzurdia’s choice of words.  However, the criticism would be premature and wrong-headed.  Arzurdia argues that Christians must be both theologically grounded and missional in their approach to contemporary culture.  And he carefully balances his assertion with biblical insight: “And so, while we cannot be missional without being theological, we must never be theological without being missional … we cannot hope to be authentically Christian without being meaningfully worldly.”

The author roots his admonition in Jesus’ high priestly prayer.  Consider some of the high points of our Lord’s prayer:

  • “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, ESV).
  • “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
  • “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).

Arzurdia acknowledges that the world is the playing field where believers carry out their divine mission.  He warns against two barriers to effectiveness: “cultural gluttony” or “cultural anorexia.”  Cultural gluttony is friendship with the world; a carnal fascination with the ideology of the world’s system.  It is the “consequence of being missional without being theological.”  Cultural anorexia is the classic Christian tendency to withdraw from the world and the propensity to retreat into a “Christian sub-culture.”  Cultural anorexia is “the consequence of being theological without being missional.”

Arzurdia continues to unfold his argument by stressing the need for holiness of life.  He poses the question, “How can we engage the world meaningfully without compromising the integrity of our Christianity?”  The answer is found on Jesus’ lips in John 17:17.  “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17).  So the truth is the means that God uses to accomplish the objective he sets forth:  “The Scriptures are the criteria, the standard, the reference point by which everything else is to be measured.  And here, in this context, they are defined particularly as the instrument of sanctification …”

The remainder of the book directs the attention of the reader to Christ.  Arzurdia includes an excellent treatment of Christ’s redemption that is particular in nature.  Jesus is presented as our Great High Priest who is supreme above all, uniquely qualified, and perfectly compassionate; One who will enable his people to fulfill the his mandate.

Connected Christianity is a good book.  It will undoubtedly get people talking.  Azurdia’s assertions are biblically grounded and challenging.  He has effectively navigated the chasm between license and legalism and carefully guides the reader on the correct path that engages the culture without compromise.

4 stars

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