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  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation



Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians

Author: Bruce Riley Ashford

Published by Lexham Press, 2015, 176 pages. (ISBN: 978-1577996200)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B00UIMYIAI)


How should our faith impact our everyday lives? To what extent should we be involved with the culture? Drawing on such sources as Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and C.S. Lewis, Ashford argues that God wants our whole lives to be shaped by Jesus’ lordship. If Jesus truly is Lord over everything, then our faith is relevant to every dimension (every square inch!) of culture.

Ashford argues that we are to live our lives firmly in the midst of our cultural contexts, proclaiming Jesus with our lips and promoting him with our lives. For those who don’t know, Ashford is Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Theology and Culture.

 Best chapter

Chapter 3: Culture and Calling

After chapter two deals with a brief theology of culture, this chapter focuses on specific venues where Christians are to live out their calling in culture: family, church, workplace, and community.

“Our callings are our primary means to bring God glory, loving him and our neighbor, and the primary ways in which our lives intersect with various cultural arenas. If we are seeking to fulfill these callings faithfully and with excellence, we will find ourselves able to witness to Christ with the whole of our lives in every dimension of society and culture.” Kindle location 557

Best quotes

“Every culture possesses some inherent goodness. God ordered the world in such a way that people spontaneously make culture, and the very existence of music, art, food, housing, and education represent a fundamental human good. Furthermore, God has enabled all people—Christian or not—to make good and valuable contributions in the cultural realm. But under this view, the Christian also recognizes that every culture is corrupted and misdirected.” Kindle location 239

“After the fall, the world remained structurally good but became directionally bad. The world is still good in its design (structure), but human beings use the world in ways that are oriented toward self-worship and the worship of things rather than God (direction).” Kindle location 250

“God gave humans the capacities to create culture and then commanded them to use those capacities. God created humans in his image and likeness, thereby giving them capacities for spirituality, morality, relationality, language, rationality, and creativity. Then he commanded them to use those gifts (e.g., Gen 2:15; Exod 31:1–11).” Kindle location 352

“In our evangelism and church-planting, we must recognize that the gospel is always proclaimed, the church is always planted, and the Christian life is always lived within a cultural context (through human language, oratory, music, categories of thought, etc.).” Kindle location 423

“In the aftermath of the fall, every aspect of creation and culture finds itself corrupted and misdirected by sin. Science is no exception. Scientific investigation is undertaken by fallen human beings who, for example, make an idol out of the sciences by trusting that science can answer life’s deepest questions and fix its most perplexing problems.” Kindle location 961

“Viewed from a Christian perspective, science is the discipline of studying the good world that God has given us. For this reason, we should build into our churches the habit of encouraging those who are gifted to pursue work in the sciences. We should work hard to build world-class research universities that give scientists the freedom to do their work without laying aside their core convictions and the freedom to hypothesize Christianly as they attempt to make sense of the data.” Kindle location 1070

“The majority of Americans no longer consider traditional Christian doctrines (for example, the doctrine of sin) or traditional Christian ethics (for example, biblical sexual morality) to be plausible in the modern world. Christians who do not abandon these beliefs are labeled intolerant and even hateful.” Kindle location 1098

“Materialism is the belief that we will be happier if we acquire more goods and services, while consumerism is our preoccupation with acquiring those goods and services. The materialist-consumerist mindset is idolatrous, because consumption becomes a functional savior offering the sort of redemption that only Christ can offer, and promoting the sort of utopia that will exist only in the new heavens and earth.” Kindle location 1358

“We should work hard to acquire our wealth in a way that is moral, legal, and beneficial to society. We should use the wealth we possess to bless our families, but also to bless our neighbors. We should never lose sight of the fact that God, rather than wealth, is our security and our savior.” Kindle location 1383

“After Adam and Eve’s sin, all human beings have sinned against God. There is not one corner of society or culture that is left untainted by sin and its consequences. All human beings are alienated from God and from each other, and our social and cultural activities are corrupted and misdirected by sin.” Kindle location 1566

In light of the fall and God’s offer to humanity of a great salvation, our mission now takes on added dimensions. Before the fall, our mission was to spread God’s glory across the face of the earth by building societies of worshipers who lived their cultural lives to his glory. After the fall, we retain the original mission, but also have to deal with the ugly fact of sin.” Kindle location 1572

“Secular institutions are liturgical because they provide a matrix of practices and rituals that inculcate a certain (un-Christian) vision of the good life. They misdirect our loves and desires. They skew our basic attunement to this world by pointing us away from Christ and toward a certain idol or cluster of idols.” Kindle location 160

Best illustration

“A core biblical teaching is that all humans are worshipers, either of God or of idols. Our worship is located in the heart, and it radiates outward into all that we do. People who are not Christians are still worshipers, and whatever or whoever they worship radiates outward into all that they do, including their public-square interactions.” Kindle location 1155

 Best idea

“We realize that we will never ‘win’ by transforming our culture in such a way that it glorifies Christ comprehensively or enduringly. God never promises victory until Christ returns and secures the victory for himself. But he does command us to obey him and bear witness to him by doing everything within our powers to direct our cultural activities toward Christ.” Kindle location 266

 Best take away

“The implications of the fall for a discussion of human culture are massive. Sin defiles everything. Spiritually, humans are idolaters, worshiping God’s gifts instead of worshiping God himself (Col 3:5). Rationally, they have difficulty discerning the truth, and they use their capacities to construct vain philosophies (Rom 1:18–21). Creatively, they use their imagination to create and worship idols rather than to worship the living God (Isa 40:18–20). Relationally, they use their power to exploit others and serve themselves (Gen 5:8). As a result, any and all human culture is distorted and defaced by sin. No dimension of culture is left unscathed by sin’s pervasive reach.” Kindle location 367


The book is a fine introduction (as the title suggests) to human culture and contains a strong biblically based Christian response and practical responsibility to it. At the conclusion of each chapter there are action points along with recommended readings that helps the reader dig deeper into the topic presented in the chapter.

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