A review by David Robertson, the Director of Third Space, a project of the City Bible Forum in Australia. Originally posted at The Wee Flea.
Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West? by Kurt Mahlburg – 8/10
This book was given to me by a friend and I have to say that at first I did not expect much — yet another book about the decline of the West and how it has turned away from Christian values. Plus this was not an Os Guinness, Tim Keller or Carl Trueman book. I had never heard of the young Australian Kurt Mahlburg. Well, I have now. It is excellent — at times brilliant.
Firstly, it is readable — a key requisite for a good book! Kurt writes well and keeps our attention.
Secondly, it is full of great quotes — some of which I knew, others I was not aware of. But it is not a book that is just a collection of quotes — they are applied to his argument well, and add colour and depth to his consistent, overall thesis.
Thirdly, it avoids the trap of falling into the culture wars and forgetting Christ and his church. It is a book that I will return to again — and one that is an excellent primer for any Christian wanting to understand what is going on in our world. It is effectively a combination of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Tim Keller, Os Guinness and other Christian commentators, but with an Aussie flavour.
There are one or two things that I would quibble about. For me, it is still too American-centric, despite the Aussie flavour. And what’s with the 14 pages of commendations? I appreciate the diversity and significance of those who are commending (one or two apparently through gritted teeth), but 14 pages is a bit over the top.
Furthermore, I’m not convinced that all the ‘values’ in the list of Western Christian values are either specifically Western or Christian. And one of its great strengths will turn out to be one of its weaknesses: it is very up to date – Covid, China etc.
However, these are minor quibbles. Overall, the book is one I will return to (perhaps do a fuller review on) and use. In fact, it is one that I will buy a stock of and use in my work. It almost acts as a compendium of current biblical writing and thinking on contemporary culture.
Kurt Mahlburg is described as “an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith”. Well now he has emerged — and I look forward to hearing much more from him!
Cross and Culture is still available for the special introductory price of $24.95. Buy it here.