What do I think of George Yancey and David Williamson’s books published by Rowman and Littlefield? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
George Yancey got in touch with me wondering if I’d be willing to go through his book. I thank him for sending me a review copy. I do think this is an important book, though at the start, I want to make some caveats about my opinion here.
To begin with, if you are not familiar with sociology, as I am not, then some of the terms in the book will be confusing to you. My eyes didn’t really register what I was seeing in the sections on the percentages and such. This is a downside and I suppose in some ways, it’s one that’s kind of unavoidable. Still, the sections that you can understand are some of the most revealing ones.
Second, the writings did not invent the term Christianophobia. It has been around already. They simply utilize it. Personally, with my disdain for terms like homophobia and Islamophobia and such, I would have preferred something else. Yet still, my choice of “antichrist” would have probably been seen as more problematic. (In my eschatology, there is no one antichrist figure, though some can certainly embody an antichrist spirit well. Anyone who is not for Christ is quite simply antichrist.)
That having been said, this is an important book to read on what is going on in our culture around us. Yancey and Williamson trace this to a culture war that each side thinks the other is wanting to destroy something great on the other side. For instance, many who are the progressives against Christianity are thinking that Christianity is anti-science and anti-reason. To be fair, many Christians can give this kind of viewpoint. Those Christians are often an embarrassment to many of us who do not share a similar viewpoint. Historically, reason and Christianity have not been opponents at all. They’ve been allies together.
On the other hand, as Yancey and Williamson point out, there are many atheists and others out there who would disagree with my worldview and while they are wiling to discuss it with me, they’re not going to be people that are out there actively arguing for their position and against mine and actively seeking to destroy Christianity or any other faith for that matter. Many atheists out there could be quite embarrassed by the actions of their fellow atheists. But yet, there is that vocal percentage out there that is not content with that.
Yancey and Williamson sent out questionnaires to such groups of atheists who are very much opposed to Christianity to get their viewpoints. These included questions such as the way they saw Christianity interacting on the political sphere and how they felt about not only Christians but other people groups out there such as Muslims or Mormons or atheists or agnostics. This also included questions about if any legal actions should be taken.
The answers that came back did in fact show often a great antagonism to Christianity. Some people would not mind laws that helped stop Christians from doing evangelism or removed tax-exempt status from churches. Some would not want to make new laws, but if enforcing a law could have the benefit of making the church be hampered in what it does, then that was all well and good.
Many respondents also claimed a view that Christianity was anti-intellectual and anti-science and of course, sexual morals came up many times. As I read the comments that were put out, I couldn’t help but think of too many non-Christians that I interact with online who have a straw man of Christianity built up and who sadly have not really looked too much at the main issues. It is the mindset that I call presuppositional atheism.
The best chapter was one where this went beyond respondents and looked at figures in public media who were against Christianity and the open statements that they would make and many of them would make such statements without fear of repercussion. I would have liked to have seen more statements like this. Also noteworthy were cases of people who were sued because they were seeking to practice Christian behavior, such as someone who wanted their new roommate to be a fellow Christian.
The book also seeks to argue as to what should be done to help curb this antagonism to Christianity. One suggestion I’d make is that Christians should be better witnesses to what Christianity is. If a lot of people have a viewpoint that Christianity is anti-science and anti-reason, we have to honestly ask, did we do something to help contribute to that viewpoint? If so, what can we do to help eliminate that viewpoint. This is not asking us to back down on our standards at all or compromise our beliefs, but it is asking us to watch and see what kind of Christianity we are showing the world.
This book is just the start on a journey as the authors themselves realize. More research is needed on this topic and hopefully it will be coming in the future. This book while not the final word, as the authors themselves would state entirely, is the one that starts the discussion. Even if you’re not a Christian, you should find the antagonism towards Christians just because they’re Christians to be disturbing.