Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Out of Order

Written by: on October 29, 2015


Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction by Anthony Elliott is a compilation of ideas, thoughts, and theories of social theory as well as critiques of each. This is all predicated upon the idea of society being not be based or relegated to a geographical location, but rather mainly driven by vocation. The fictional Natalie and the question of where she belongs introduce this idea. The major driver of this concept of Social Theory is change. Change is creating new society and is the informer to this new world in which we live.



This book looks at Social Theory by exploring key concepts or themes. The first is the relation between individual and society.   The second is the degree of consensus or conflict in modern society. The third is the theme of change or social transformation, which brings to life what we know as globalization. The final theme is the relation between the social and the emotional and where our private and public worlds meet. This book really investigates the “why” behind societal activity and looks for ways to answer the questions of our world today. It does this by looking to the past to inform the present and predict the future.



In my analysis of this book is that it is a compilation of secular experts giving or critiquing social theory in order to explain why human behavior and society is out of order. Nobody in the secular or sacred world is debating or defending the society in which we all live. They are all trying to explain and understand it in an attempt to forecast where we are going and how will we be when we arrive. From Marshall Berman’s Marxist based idea that freedom leads to problems; to George Ritzer’s idea of overcompensation by use of efficiency; or Weber’s industrial mechanism. It all leads to the idea that we are broken as a people. Robert Putnam and Emile Durkheim say that we as an American society are losing ground morally, albeit for different reasons. The essence is the same we as a society are out of order.


Interestingly everybody has ideas why and even fewer have theories as to how to fix the “out of order” society. The problem is because no one can agree on the problem, therefore no one can agree on the solution. Even with Ferdinand de Saussure’s structural linguistics idea that common communication can fix or change things does neither, it only brings clarity to the issue but not a solution. Even Giddens’s perspective that routines, habits, and competencies hold the solution does nothing more than bring more confirmation that we are out of order. I do not believe that there is not at the very least some truth to any or all of these ideas.   Nor do I deny that they give powerful insight into what we as humans do or why we do it. My objection is than due to the secular humanistic nature of the experts mentioned; we (humanity) deny the truth in our own wickedness (Romans 1:18). We (humanity) are blind. We (humanity) are out of order and we cannot even see that. All the expertise does is simply confirms but offers no answer. They are looking for the answer to the creation’s problems in the creation, instead of the creator. The only answer to the creation’s problems is found in the creator. The answer, we are out of order.

About the Author

Aaron Cole

6 responses to “Out of Order”

  1. Pablo Morales says:

    Thank you for a good summary of the book and an insightful blog. I also felt the same way you did. Reading the book made me realize the human need for a social order characterized by goodness and justice for all. The answer to this human need is not found in a fallen creation, as you pointed out. That’s why the book made me think of the eschatological message of the gospel. The Messiah will seat on the throne of David and His Kingdom will have no end. He will reign in true righteousness and justice. I believe that until we experience Christ and His Kingdom in its fulness, every social theory and human solution will always fall short. I felt like saying at the end of the book, “Come Lord Jesus!” So, I might as well say it now as I reflect on your blog. Yes, come Lord Jesus!

  2. Aaron Cole says:


    Preach it!


  3. Hey Slim.
    I agree with you that this books lists lots of problems and little solutions. I like it because it gives language to the problems we pastors can face. Also books like this challenge us as local church pastors to provide the solution (Way, Truth, Life in Jesus). Hope you are traveling well!

  4. Great summary, Aaron!

    Society has become intertwined with culture, language, tradition and familial expectation. How can one define society? Can we give it a definition – or is it more fluid and abstract in design? You stated, “Change is creating new society and is the informer to this new world in which we live.” I think you summarized it well. Change has created newness. We live in a world where one can live in the suburbs, identify with the city and converse with those outside of the country. Elliott concluded the story of Natalie by stating, “For whilst there is a very specific sense in which we might say that Natalie is a citizen of America or the UK, in what sense is she actually a citizen of the globe?” (Elliott, 4). Christianity is very much like Elliott’s question. We are nomads. We live as citizens of heaven and our home is found in the purpose of God. Luke 9:58 describes the heart of our Savior when it states, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Jesus rested in the presence of His Father. This is not to suggest that we should live without responsibility, but it should make us question our dependency. Are we citizens of the globe or have we dug in our heels and created our own comfort – disregarding Christ’s commission?

  5. Jason Kennedy says:

    Love the post. In Romans, “the lie” Paul refers to seems to be a worship of humanity. They worship things they made with their own hands. The overall problem with humanity is sin. It cannot be fixed outside of a realm of faith. How in a modern culture do address humanities problem within the church? Do your people respond to sin messages?
    Thanks bro!

  6. Garfield Harvey says:

    Great post…I haven’t watched much of the presidential debate because I’m almost guaranteed to hear the radio stations make a mockery. I’m terrified because I can’t seem to find a good candidate that really understand our crisis as a country. The church feels like we have no voice and those with great wealth feels like they have all the voice in the world. As you stated, it’s quite obvious that there’s a problem and everyone can see it. I have a theory as to why we can’t solve the big problem. I believe we are only interested in bringing order to the things that directly affect us. For example, If Hilary Clinton, wins it’s ‘Peace on Earth’ but if Donald Trump wins, ‘The Rich Gets Richer.’ If here of war oversees but what’s our first response, ‘let’s find a way to protect ourselves.’ This is the same mentality we have in the church. When a Pastor falls, we create a system to protect us instead of creating a system to restore them. We are reactors at the expense of others. Social order exist when ‘we have a problem.’ Right now the problem is either yours or mine.


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