Re-Envisioning Christianity’s Cultural Engagement Strategies
A proposal for a top-down bottom-up approach to culture
This study aims to critically evaluate James Hunter’s key proposal for religio-cultural engagement in his book entitled, To Change the World (2010). Drawing on his expertise in sociology, Hunter argues for an exclusively top-down approach to cultural change. He asserts that the “work of world-making and world-changing are, by and large, the work of elite: gatekeepers who provide creative direction and management within spheres of social life” (Hunter 2010, 41). However, such an approach has the shortcoming of serving the needs of cultural elites and ignoring the needs and concerns of the people living at the grassroots level. By making use of the Asian cultural context— Minjung theology in Korea and the Chinese Pentecostal grassroots movement, this study pushes back against Hunter’s key idea. It proposes that the best approach to Christian cultural change is through a top-down/bottom-up method that engages and contextualizes religion and culture in the public sphere.
Keywords: cultural engagement, Minjung theology, Chinese Pentecostal movement, contextualization
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