Escaping the Christian Ghetto

If you've been listening to this program recently, you know that a few months ago I published a book with Jack Eckerd called Why America Doesn't Work. Well, I'm getting an interesting response from people who read it. You see, the book is addressed to a general audience, not just to Christians. That means it doesn't quote the Bible a lot. Instead it describes biblical principles that can be applied by Christian and non-Christian alike in the work place. That approach has raised some consternation among readers. People have come to me expressing surprise, saying, "This isn't like your other books. It doesn't give a direct Christian message." Book reviewers have made similar comments. People seem uncomfortable with the idea of Christians writing books for general audiences. What's at work here, I'm afraid, is a ghetto mentality. Christian readers buy Christian books, written by Christian authors, produced by Christian publishing houses, sold by Christian bookstores. We no longer seem to care that we're out of the mainstream. But that's no way to influence our culture. The great writer C.S. Lewis said the best way to influence the culture is not to write explicitly Christian books. It's to write popular books on every subject imaginable--with Christianity as the underlying perspective. Think, for a moment, what would happen if you lived in a Hindu culture. You may never read a book explicitly teaching Hinduism. But what if every book you did read--on science or politics or self-help--simply assumed a Hindu philosophy, and interpreted the world by Hindu principles. Over time it would be very hard not to absorb Hindu ideas. In fact, that's exactly how many Westerners end up as secularists today. Almost no one reads books explicitly defending secularism. But most of the books people do read--from schools textbooks to best-selling novels--assume that this life and this world are all there is. After a steady diet of that, when they turn to the Bible and read about God and angels, heaven and hell, it all sounds unreal. They don't have any rational arguments against the Christian faith. It just doesn't fit their mental picture of the world. That's why Christians need to be writing books that everyone reads--so we can be the ones painting their picture of the world. Some Christians are already doing that. Paul Johnson has written a highly regarded history book called Modern Times. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's books on the Soviet Union helped to undermine communism. Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist who delivered pungent critiques of modern culture. Walker Percy's books give imaginative and whimsical comments on modern life. And Flannery O'Connor's short stories convey Christian themes. So let's not let ourselves get stuck in a Christian ghetto. It's good, of course, to read books on spirituality and the Christian life. But we also need to be reading Christian books about issues of interest to a general audience. Books that deal with topics our non-Christian neighbors care about. It's a good way to teach ourselves how to address the secular world around us. Reading books like that helps us reach out of our Christian ghettos--and into the world.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary