The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, by Lesslie Newbigin. In the 1970s, British missionary Lesslie Newbigin returned from India to the UK, a country he barely recognized. The culture of the UK had shifted so drastically, Newbigin devoted much of his latter years to understanding how the West had departed from its Christian foundations. The first sixty pages of The Gospel in a Pluralist Society is a great philosophical and theological background to contemporary pluralist culture.
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter. Hunter’s book is a great critique of the politicization of American Christianity. Also, as a social theorist, he has unique insight into how cultures change – not through mere ideas alone, but also through networks and institutions.
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, by Andy Crouch. Christianity Today editor Andy Crouch encourages Christians to not just criticizes, copy, condemn or critique culture, but to create more of it – primarily through work.
Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith. Calvin College philosopher James K.A. Smith critiques worldview thinking in favor of seeing humans not just as thinkers but also as “lovers.” Desiring the Kingdom is also a great resource for understanding cultural practices (“cultural liturgies”) and how they are formed by what we love.
Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, by David Van Drunen. The best, short introduction to two kingdoms theology, a view of cultural that sees a strict separation between ecclesiastical and cultural duties.
Letters and Papers from Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Written from a Nazi prison cell, Bonhoeffer’s letters offer unique insight into how the West separated itself from God as a part of daily life and give deep insight into the question, “Who is Christ for us today?”
Christ and Culture, by H. Richard Niebuhr. This book is where nearly all contemporary conversations about the relationships between Christianity and culture begin.
Lectures on Calvinism, by Abraham Kuyper. A foundational work. Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper has had lasting influence on generations of pastors and theologians.
The God Who Is There, by Francis Schaeffer. An accessible introduction to the sacred/secular divide, written by one of the 20th century’s greatest theologians.