secular age

Book Review: Public Christians in a Secular Age

25 July 2022

3.2 MINS

Neil Johnson’s media career spans four decades in broadcast/journalism running parallel to his vocation as a Christian minister of the Gospel. He’s been the host of the long-running morning talk-radio program 20Twenty on Vision Christian Radio since 2010. Vision is heard in more than 770 cities and towns around Australia.

Public Christians in a Secular AgeThe new book by Neil Johnson is a real game-changer for anyone wishing to understand the power of the media and how it works from a Christian perspective. The first reading of Public Christians in a Secular Age will prompt readers to review their understanding and interpretation of such terms as secularisation, transcendence, injection theory and the broad church, to mention a few.

Neil Johnson has outlined brilliantly the issues Christians — whether individuals, churches or organisations — face in overcoming the onset of secularisation and how best we, especially Christian organisations, can avoid succumbing to the emergence of the secular age.


The book is best described as a collection of historical, theological, and kingdom business teaching, but more importantly, it will challenge readers as to ‘how best do we defend our Christian heritage’?

Whether the reader may be a pastor, business leader, or apologist, the book provides practical application to business ministry and organisational leadership for aspiring leaders in business, ministry, and media. It explores how leaders manage the necessary call to action due to the emerging secular drift Australia currently finds itself in, irrespective of faith.

The book is quick to highlight the fact that only a ‘change of season’ can reverse the encroaching secularisation that marginalises faith and threatens to trap even unwary Christians in a secular dimension.

Public Christians in a Secular Age makes the point that the future of faith requires Christians in business, ministry, and media not to be ‘secular’, but to reimagine life and activity according to a higher purpose.

Casting the Nets

The reader needs to be aware that Neil Johnson has a solid media career spanning four decades starting in commercial radio, but as Christian ministry aspirations deepened, he began exploring ministry and media leadership roles in Christian radio, serving as Program Director (96.5 Family), and later General Manager (Rhema/Life FM/Juice 107.3 FM Gold Coast).

These operations became the seedbed for deeper thinking about leadership dimensions for 21st-century Christians. He is enthusiastic about Christian media, Christian education, and the importance in both city and country expressions of the ‘local church’.

Neil has travelled internationally, highlighting the deep issues facing the persecuted church in the Middle East at the height of the Syrian ISIS civil war refugee crisis, and the aftermath of revolutions in Egypt. Neil also conducted intensive broadcast training for Christian and mainstream broadcasters in Papua New Guinea.

The message that the broader church is ‘at risk’ is well made, along with invaluable insights for anyone seeking to be a public Christian in this secular age. I know this from my own ministry work.

For those in the media, and indeed for any Christian leader, Neil labours the point of the critical importance and profound influence Christian media can, and does have, in the public square. In the Foreword, Neil explains how the emergence of Christian radio in the 1990s enhanced the opportunity for the emergence of a new expression of Christian ministry. An important focus of the book revolves around the dynamic role of Christians serving in public leadership roles, coupled with the emergence of a strong Christian media.


The book reveals that one of the problems for public Christians today lies in the relentless hardening of a national ethos — in effect, the minimisation of the historical importance of Christianity in Australia.

Neil Johnson has encapsulated in this book the real issue Christians are up against in today’s Australia when he says that “the forces of secularism have decided to wage a war on anything that appears as inconsistent with their “articles of faith.” As a result, a hardened form of secularism has developed and there is an increasing demand that biblical reasons should be completely excluded from debate in the public square.

To sum up, the conclusion can be made that we are witnessing an aggressive form of secularism, which views Christian values and beliefs with great intolerance and dismissiveness. Just read mainstream media, watch the news or listen to public discourse to understand what Neil is saying with clarity which is supported by an extensive bibliography.

This book is an excellent resource for theological students, educators, pastors, media commentators, communicators, and for individuals who are committed to the Great Commission of serving God in every sphere of their lives — home, work, socially and in the public square.

I think Neil Johnson has fulfilled his mission of convincing Christian media professionals and entrepreneurs to help define what makes Christian media ‘Christian’ and if we are to avoid persecution for our faith then let’s claim Matthew 5:12 — Gaudete et Exsultate

Public Christians in A Secular Age: Leadership for Season Change
By: Neil R Johnson
Published: 16th May 2022
ISBN: 9780645264609
Number of Pages: 282


Photo by George Milton.

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