Culture Wars : Christian Convictions in a Pluralistic Square

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Steven D. Hoogerwerf

Abstract

Observers of the social arena tell us that American citizens are living in a battle zone! Culture wars are raging around us, threatening an escalation of violence, and there appears to be no end in sight. According to James Davison Hunter, the social observer who popularized the phrase culture wars, these conflicts are more than interesting differences of opinion arising from our much celebrated social diversity. Culture wars are battles that arise from "fundamentally different conceptions of moral authority, over different ideas and beliefs about truth, the good, obligation to one another, the nature of community, and so on." In other words, we are a people who live out of fundamentally different moral visions that lead to serious conflicts about how we should order our lives together. We do not share a common vision of what comprises a good society, so we cannot agree about what kinds of policies ought to order public life. And because we do not agree, we find ourselves in a struggle for power, vying for the ability to impose our vision of goodness before someone else has a chance to impose one. It' s a high-stakes battle—with truth and righteousness on the endangered list.

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Keywords
Christianity and culture; Religion and culture -- United States; Church and state -- United States; Cultural pluralism; Religious pluralism
Section
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