Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism & Liberty


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Gray Matters

From the Author

Gray Matters is the culmination of ideas I’ve long contemplated–perhaps dating back to high school when I first starting really getting into movies and “secular” music. How and why should Christians enjoy art and culture? Is our consumption of culture simply a “diversion” with no meaningful bearing on our faith? Or should our faith inform, deepen, and open up new layers of enjoyment in our consumption of culture? And how does a Christian evaluate and interact with the thornier areas of culture? Is it better to just flee from anything potentially hazardous and consume only the safe, sanitized or “Christian” cultural items? Or does Christian liberty (e.g. Romans 14) make it possible for us to consume anything and everything as it pleases us, without worrying about it?

Those are a lot of questions. And most of them have been asked before. Gray Matters is a book that continues asking these questions, offering not definitive answers but principles and a toolbox to help us think through the issues. Rather than pontificating on these age-old questions from my own relatively shallow well of wisdom, I draw upon all sorts of other thinkers, including people like Abraham Kuyper, C.S. Lewis, John Calvin, Miroslav Volf, Hans Rookmaaker, N.T. Wright, Nancy Pearcey, Jamie Smith, and Mako Fujimura, among others.

I wrote Gray Matters to continue the conversation about Christianity and culture with special focus on some of the particular challenge areas for my generation. But it’s a book with principles and discussion points for everyone. I wrote it with the idea in mind that it would be discussed in small groups, amongst friends, wrestled with in classrooms or around the dinner table.

I’ve explored the subject matter of Gray Matters on Mere Orthodoxy herehere, and here, as well as elsewhere.

Free Stuff

Download a free sample from the first few chapters of the book here.

If you purchase a copy of the book and post a review of it on the Amazon page, send Brett an email at brett.mccracken and he will personally mail you an autographed copy of his first book, Hipster Christianity


The Endorsements

“Brett McCracken is one of this generation’s leading thinkers on the intersection of faith and culture. In Gray Matters, he explores Christianity’s natural extremes with his feet firmly planted in Scripture. He charges headfirst into controversial questions and leaves no stone unturned. The result is a truly spectacular book that carves a path between an oppressive, rules-based religion and a powerless, free-for-all ‘faith.’ If you start reading it, beware–you won’t be able to put it down.”

Jonathan Merritt, faith and culture writer; author, A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

“This book is not only clear and engaging but also careful and wise. Gray Matters is a helpful, critical, reflective exploration of how we should consume culture as Christians, one that is neither reactionary nor defensive, triumphalist or despairing. Few younger Christians have navigated these turbulent waters with as much even-handed clarity as this book does, which makes it an important read.”

Matthew Lee Anderson,; author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter for Our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith.

“Idealism is all the rage among bright young evangelicals today, but Brett McCracken brings something all too rare to the table: he holds his earnest idealism in tension with lucid good sense and winsome moderation. May his tribe increase!”

John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture

“Martin Luther said the world was like a drunken man, first falling off one side of the horse and then the other. With a fresh and thoughtful look at challenges such as food, music, film, and alcohol, Brett McCracken has offered a new generation a way to stay on the horse.”

Roberta Green Ahmanson, writer and speaker

“In Gray Matters, Brett McCracken does something quite refreshing–he serves as a wise and discerning guide to the consuming of culture. Many books condemn ‘secular’ culture, just as many books advocate (consciously or unconsciously) accommodating ourselves to culture. Brett has written something much different: a biblically informed and culturally savvy approach to consuming culture in a God-honoring, community-building, and mission-advancing way. Not everyone will agree with Brett’s method or his conclusions, but that is part of his point. Central to modern discipleship to Jesus is wrestling through ‘gray matters’–those areas where there is room to think, pray, study, and consume–in the ways we eat, drink, listen, and watch. Brett seeks to redeem our consumption in surprising and helpful ways.”

Mike Erre, pastor; author, The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle?

“Brett McCracken has long been my favorite reviewer of both music and movies, so it’s no surprise to me that he has written this needed book on consuming culture. A number of wonderful books have been written encouraging readers to create culture, but Brett takes the reader into the everyday world of consuming culture. Brett is an incredibly capable writer, thinker, and connoisseur, and all of this shines through in his work–bringing back into focus that how we engage the world around us matters deeply.”

Tyler Braun, worship pastor; writer; author, Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost Our Way–But We Can Find It Again


About the Author

Brett McCracken


Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist. He is the author of Hipster Christianity and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post,, the Princeton Theological ReviewMediascapeBooks & CultureChristianity TodayRelevantIMAGE JournalQ Ideas, and A graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA, Brett currently works as managing editor for Biola Magazine and teaches journalism at Biola University. Follow him at his blog, The Search, at

One Comment

  1. […] Between Legalism and Liberty. We’ll be reviewing the book pretty soon, but in the mean time, you can read a sample chapter here; he’s even got a way for you to get his first book for […]


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