Many readers of this book will be surprised by how many key events and significant people make their mark in one year: 1776. We chiefly remember 1776 as the year of the American Revolution, but Andrew Wilson wants us to see there is so much more that make this year a turning point.
In the introduction to this book, we are reminded that “Ours is a forgetful age”. This book acts as a useful memory jogger. It is often the case that we can think clearly about the present and the future when we have first taken the time to carefully reflect on the past.
The main part of the book looks at seven major factors that were key features of 1776. These seven factors which the author characterises by the acronym WEIRDER: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic, Ex-Christian and Romantic. This section is a treasure trove of excellent things. It is difficult to think that all these events and personalities are crammed into one significant year.
The final section of the book is formed of two “response chapters”. In many ways this is my favourite part of the book. The author strikes an optimistic note by claiming that: “The West is not as post-Christian as it seems … reports of Christianity’s death, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated”.
Yet the author does not minimise the mammoth task that lies ahead for the Christian Church; he makes it clear that there is no silver bullet that will solve the Church’s problem of engaging effectively with contemporary culture.
Instead, he proposes that the Church needs to rediscover its core identity as a people saved by grace and displaying grace, fostering true freedom, and proclaiming liberating truth.
This is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the challenge of cultural moment we are in, and how we can begin to face that challenge.
Read more about Andrew Wilson’s extraordinary and challenging family life at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/andrew-wilson/
John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia.