Any book by Sharon James is worth selling your shirt for, and this is no exception. The book does what is says in its title, and tells how Christianity transformed the world. This is especially relevant in our secular culture which seems to be on a quest to airbrush the positive contribution of Christianity worldwide out of our history. James tackles the often repeated objections head on – ‘Christianity is violent and intolerant; Christians are on the wrong side of history; Christianity is terrible for human rights’ – and does so convincingly.
Equally, this is no rose-tinted view of Christianity reminding us that in the past injustices have been wrongly perpetuated in the name of Christ; that institutional religion needs to be distinguished from authentic Christianity and Christians do not have a monopoly on virtue and compassion. Nevertheless, the evidence points to Christianity being of incredible benefit to society like no other faith or philosophy. Nine short chapters cover the subjects of Freedom, Religious Liberty, Justice, Protecting Life, the Dignity of Women, Philanthropy, Healthcare, Education for All and the Creation Mandate, and the Value of Work. An abundance of footnotes and an extensive book list indicate the scholarship behind this work, directing the keen reader onwards. It is a work of historical scholarship and cultural analysis and will encourage and edify any Christian. It will also help us engage evangelistically with unbelieving friends, family and work colleagues.
Of note is the final brief chapter of the triumph of Christ. Engaged as the author is at the sharp end of an unrelenting and unbelieving culture, she reminds us of the final, certain and sure triumph of the cause of Christ. All in all, this is a very satisfying read. It is worth buying two and passing on to a friend for their encouragement also.