Some Good Reads on Christian Engagement With Politics

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At Grace CC, we’re about to start a 4 part series on Christians and politics to help our folk in the run up to the general election. While we’re being uber cautious not to tell our folk which way to vote we do want people to engage intelligently with the political realm. Here’s a list of useful things I’ve read in my prep which you may find helpful:

  • Koyzis, Political Visions and Illusions – a helpful summary of the classical positions with a Christian response.
  • Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life – nice chapter in there about origin and function of the state.
  • Keller, Center Church – contains a brilliant summary of the ‘Christ and culture’ debate, and offers a way through for Christians to engage well in the public square.
  • Hauerwas and Willimon, Resident Aliens – useful to read and has some helpful stuff about the distinctiveness of the Christian community, but I’m not persuaded by the overall thesis that the state is the beast.
  • Plantinga, Engaging God’s World – contains a brilliant chapter on vocation and kingdom – a brilliant apologetic for why Christians need to be engaged politically.
  • Trueman, Republocrat – a stimulating critique of current political ideologies and the forces which shape and affect them and us.
  • Green (ed.), A Higher Throne – personally I love David Field’s chapters on the basis of government here.

It seems to me there a few key questions you need to sort out to lay the foundations for your political engagement:

  1. How do you view the state? Beast or servant of God (surely the latter – Yoder’s exegesis of Rom 13 is bizarre).
  2. What do you think the state should do? Big or small? Why? (I find Deut 16-18; Rom 13; 1 Pet 2 useful in thinking about this question).
  3. On what basis does the state function? Satanic and sinful; natural law, common grace, and conscience; or something stronger (i.e. Scripture)?
  4. How do you view the relationship between church/Christians and the state – disengagement, suspicion, co-belligerence, sphere-sovereignty, or something else?

These, it seems to me, are some of the central questions that need to be considered before we move to specific issues. In a nut-shell, what is the state in God’s eyes, and what should it do? Once you’ve established these ideological principles, then you’ll probably be a whole deal nearer to deciding how you’ll engage.

Throw me a bone! What else do I need to be reading? Other key questions?

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