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Book Review – America at the Crossroads


Book Review – America at the Crossroads

America at the Crossroads is the latest book from famed author, pollster, and cultural analyst George Barna. In this book, Barna focuses his attention on the “intersection of faith and culture ” and zeroes in on the most current social issues facing Christianity. As one might expect, America at the Crossroads is packed full of up to date statistics on the developing mind of American Christianity. Barna’s research is careful and responsible. He focuses on carefully analyzing relevant data that either explains or predicts behavior and doesn’t fall prey to the trap of perceiving the mere presence of data to mean that it is good data. This approach results in a book that is not only well researched, but highly relevant in explaining where we are as a people and where we might be heading.

In America at the Crossroads, Barna carefully analyzes Faith and Spirituality (part 1), Government and politics (part 2), and finally, lifestyles and perspectives (part 3), before offering a few concluding thoughts on what we, as American Christians, might be able to to to reverse the current trend confronting our beliefs and behavior (part 4). In this section, Barna summarizes his research with six observations,

  • The morals of Americans are more representative if Sodom and Gommorah than the Kingdom of God.
  • People’s religious beliefs have only a tangential and diminishing relationship to the teachings of the Bible.
  • Trust and confidence in the institutions designed to foster appropriate living, from churches to the government, are justifiably plummeting.
  • The political system has turned chaotic and unproductive, and most Americans no longer believe that system serves them well–or is committed to trying.
  • People’s lifestyles are characterized by behaviors and goals that are opposite of that which pleases and reflects the image of God…
  • A majority of the country’s churches seem to have lost sight of their God-given purpose and have proven to be ineffective at leading people back to the righteous path.

In this, Barna suggests that the solution is to have a shared vision, be broken before God so that he can transform us, and realign our worldview with scripture. This is arguably a very reasonable strategy. However, I found it to be missing a key element of genuine transformation. That is to say it lacked the gospel. While I sincerely doubt that Barna advocates a moralistic approach to transformation, I the solution to be just that a plea to change our behavior without the empowering of the gospel. I want to tread cautiously here because I have read enough of Barna to know that he is an advocate of gospel transformation and that he would not promote anything short of that. However, without any explicit reference to the fact that it is God who works in us both to will and to do according to his good purpose. Without this distinction we might find ourselves working FOR our salvation rather than working OUT our salvation with fear and trembling. That said, most who would read America at the Crossroads are likely to hold to a biblical worldview which would inform them of their need for utter dependence upon God.

Overall I found this book to be a valuable resource and I will most certainly reference it often. Barna has once again done the American church a huge favor by highlighting our trajectory and because of this we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

Where to purchase

You can purchase America at the Crossroads: Explosive Trends Shaping America’s Future and What You Can Do about It through,   Baker Publishing Group, or by searching Amazon for the best price in my Amazon picks below.

About the Author

America at the CrossroadsGeorge Barna currently serves as the executive director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, conducting research on governance, elections, worldview, and cultural transformation. He is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty books, and his work is frequently cited as an authoritative source by the media. A frequent speaker at ministry conferences around the world, he has been on the faculty at several universities and seminaries. George and his wife, Nancy, have three adopted daughters and two grandchildren and live on the central California coast.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 thoughts on “Book Review – America at the Crossroads

  1. Dave

    Hey nice site. I’ve only read the last two reviews but I enjoyed them both a lot. I think you’re right about Barna. He doesn’t seem to be the type to neglect the gospel. I think the difference is he isn’t Reformed so his understanding of change might be more behavioral driven than heart driven. I might be wrong. I don’t want to misrepresent his theology but I seem to remember something about him being more Arminian than Calvin.

  2. Ryan Smith

    Hello Aaron!. I’m so glad you are writing again. The only good thing about the break is that I have caught up with you and your reading and am now ready to get more books!

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Barna’s research! But I think the previous commenter was right. You wouldn’t agree with Barna’s presupposition that it is up to us to win souls and do what it takes to get them into a “relevant” church. He wrote a book on church growth a while back that was very seeker sensitive. With that background it is easy to see why a charge to change without an appeal to the gospel would characterize his writing. I don’t know for sure I guess but I would assume he doesn’t hold to imputed righteousness which would then put the burden of transformation upon us.

    Either way I love his research and will be buying this book.

    • That is possible. I don’t want to say for sure because I don’t know his theology and even if he is not Reformed he is still well within orthodoxy. Not a big deal. It may even be that he was simply leaving it at that to emphasis the urgency and the fact that we have very real ability to choose to actively pursue change. I get it. Again… Not a big deal for me but if I had written it I would have simply emphasised the fact that no lasting change will ever occur without a complete change of the inward man… and that this is only possible if God uses our hard work of evangelism to change hearts.

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