Charles Taylor’s award-winning work, A Secular Age, has caused ripples in the academic world with its bold analysis of western history and powerful arguments against those of the new atheists. It contains tremendous resources for the western church as it seeks to both understand and reach our culture with the Gospel. However, its 800+ pages of highly academic writing make it inaccessible for many who would benefit from its reflections. Thankfully, James K.A. Smith has sought to distill its message for believers outside academic circles. In How (Not) to be Secular, Smith brings out the heart of Taylor’s message, and his reflections help us to more faithfully live out our faith in this secular age.
This study guide comes out of summer studies of Smith and Taylor’s works in the context of the local church. For seven weeks, close to twenty of us gathered for discussion of the material. As the conversations progressed, it became clear that, while Smith’s guide to Taylor offers excellent insights, it would be helpful to have a guide to Smith. A philosopher in his own right, Smith offers a dense retelling of the major points. Boiling down 800+ pages into a scant 150 is a feat, but the effort renders a dense product. This reading guide is designed to allow groups to experience and apply the necessary insights in How (Not) to be Secular without a background in philosophy or familiarity with cultural touch-points Smith utilizes.
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