The System Has a Soul by Hunter Baker

I will admit I am biased. I consider Hunter Baker a friend and have admired his work and writing for some time. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend both The End of Secularism and Political Thought: A Student’s Guide.

So I suppose it is not surprise that I enjoyed The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life

The System Has a SoulWHAT RELEVANCE DOES CHRISTIANITY HAVE IN OUR SOCIETAL SYSTEM? What place does the church have in a system that so often seems to be ordered only by the ultra-complex machinery of state power and corporate strategy? The essays in this volume address these questions by considering the relationship of the church to liberty, government, commerce, and education. These reflections reveal that we cannot allow the system to run according to its own internal logic. Rather, it is important for the church to act as a conscience. The church (and the people in it) should provide a living reminder of the God and of the good that transcends our worldly instrumentalities and principalities. The church is the soul of the system.

Given my familiarity with Hunter’s work, I was not surprised to find this a great collection of essays.

As with so much of his writing, I really liked the clarity with which Hunter writes. He tackles complex and often difficult subjects but he manages to write for the informed, but not necessarily expert, reader without dumbing things down or oversimplifying.

He explores political theory, politics, government, history, theology and sociology and reflects on what these diverse subjects might teach us about how to structure our lives, culture, and government.

He tackles secularism, libertarianism, and higher education among other topics that feature the interaction of faith and society.  Even if you don’t agree with his perspective I think you will find Hunter a fair and clear guide to many of these issues and debates.  Rather than amp up the outrage, he tries to bring a calm, prudent style and tone.  Even amongst the controversy and strongly held opinions he seeks out common ground and a consistent sense of civility.

For those interested in higher education, and perhaps Christian higher education in particular, there are a couple of provocative essays included in this volume on those topics.

But anyone interested in issues surrounding religious liberty, secularism, or the ideas that underlie our current political debates will enjoy this collection.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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