Hunter is a sociologist based at the University of Virginia who has spent much of his academic career analyzing the ‘culture wars’ within the US. In his To Change The World, the author summarizes the irony of the Christian right, the Christian left, and the neo-anabaptist movement interacting with culture. Hunter ultimately calls for a positive Christian posture of ‘faithful presence’ — salting every social structure of culture. His new paradigm would be formed to look like ‘a new city commons’ out of Jeremiah 29:7. In this new paradigm, God’s scattered, exiled people, in post-Constantinian modernity’s neighborhoods, would settle down for the long haul, seeking to share God’s shalom (peaceable prosperity) with their neighbors through ‘faithful presence.’ Hunter’s humble image of ‘faithful presence’ contends for a Church that may not only survive but thrive within our common, pluralistic, and secular culture. Hunter’s approach is far more hopeful, pragmatic, and accessible than Miller’s approach in Consuming Religion. While both examine the interaction of the Church within the cultural landscape of the Us, Hunter provides a cogent, pragmatic and powerful way forward for the Church.
Hunter speaks clearly towards leadership of a theology of faithful presence in practice. He contends that we all exercise influence within our relative contexts and ergo exercise leadership accordingly. To complete the tautology, we also are all followers who are held accountable to others. Hunter, therefore, sees leadership throughout the Church as all Christians bearing the burden of leadership, both influence, and accountability. I must say I find Hunter’s paradigm, his theology of faithful presence, and his attendant view of influential and accountable leadership throughout the Church, refreshing, inspiring, and challenging.
It is refreshing in that it assesses the contemporary power and political views across the Christian spectrum fairly and academically and ultimately finds them wanting. They are found lacking in both theological coherence and orthodoxy. While all are well-intentioned, they are neither wise, sustainable, or effective (much like the final verse in Judges, each individual (group) does what they think to be right). Hunter’s views are inspiring in that they provide the Church a pragmatic approach to moving forward. By reviewing what God has done before in and through his people in a foreign culture and without political power (given Jeremiah 29’s context), the Church can find a way to love its own diversity and work for the welfare of all the communities where it has been planted. Given the above, there remains a momentous challenge, that is the humbling of ourselves to seek the welfare of the other for the welfare of the community.
Hunter states, “What I am suggesting again is a new paradigm of being the church in the late modern world. The institutional aspect of faithful presence means that Christians and the church are settling in for the duration.” As I reflect upon Hunter’s challenge, I am reminded of a field trip visit we made last week to one of our Houston area church plants that just celebrated their twentieth anniversary and moved into their newly constructed church facility some eleven months ago. As we met with their staff and prayed for them to be a blessing in their community, their retiring senior pastor quoted the verse that they have lived by in their desire to serve their diverse community. He quoted John 1:14 out of The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes,…Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” May we all be the Church in our neighborhoods that reflects his glory, his generosity, and his truth – throughout every social structure of our culture, for the duration.
 Preece, Gordon, Is Politics Passé? Zadok Perspectives 120, Spring (2013), 20-21.
 Hunter, James Davison, To Change The World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possiiity of Christianity In The Late Modern World (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010) 256.
 Hunter, To Change The World, 270.