Speaking as much to present concerns as to past ones, The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values, by Nick Spencer, traces varied ways in which many of our present values grew up and flourished in distinctively Christian soil.
This collection of essays and lectures looks at big ideas that characterize the West, such as human dignity, the rule of law, democracy, human rights, ethics, welfare, humanism, science, capitalism, and even, paradoxically, atheism and secularism.
Always alert to the tensions and mess of history, and careful not to overstate or misstate the Christian role in shaping present values, Spencer shows how a better awareness of what we owe to Christianity can help us as we face new cultural challenges. “Christians of the present should spend some time reading the Christians of the past,” he writes. “Christianity has played the lead for much of the last 1,500 years. However many wrong turns Christians take―the essays in this volume show that Christians have had a profoundly ambiguous relationship with some of the demonstrable human goods we now take for granted―the treasure that they purport to bear remains.”
Since the essays are not intended to be scholarly pieces, the book includes an index but no foot/endnotes.
The author is research director at Theos, a Christian think tank based in Westminster.