Monday, June 16, 2008

Review of unChristian:What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

Part 1 in a multipart review

Today I’m starting a review of David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyon’s book,
UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters.

Kinneman is the president of the Barna Group, whose research I have blogged about before. Lyons is the head of the Fermi Project, a group dedicated to “working together to make positive contributions to culture.” (Hard to argue with that).

I’ve had several readers of this blog suggest reviewing this book because it’s had a high profile in the Evangelical world, and it relies heavily on survey data, something I that frequently write about.

In engaging this book, I will focus mostly on the question of whether we can believe its findings. An alternative approach, taken elsewhere, assumes the findings to be accurate and focuses on their implications. I’ll leave that question to Church leaders, and I’ll simply take a more-fundamental research-methods approach to critiquing this book.

I offer my standard disclaimer about cultural norms in academia regarding critiques. For whatever reason, academics view critical attention as something to be valued, and so our offering it, as I do here, represents appreciation for the work in question. Put differently, if I didn’t think that this book had any value, I probably wouldn’t bother writing about it.

My hope is that after this series, readers of unChristian will have a better sense of what they can and can't learn from it.

I'll also use this review as occasion to look more generally at perceptions of Christianity, using data available in various data sets.

Let me know if you have any specific questions about the book--I'll see if I can answer them.

Next: Methods & findings

1 comment:

J. R. Miller said...

Hey brother. Thanks again for the series. I posted a summary of your posts for my readers.

God bless.