Bibliography for Faith and Politics

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share the resources I used to help me study and prepare my sermons. Here is the second of two bibliographies for our recently completed series, “The Kingdom of God” (you can find the first one here). This bibliography has a backstory.

Before the pandemic we had a two-week series entitled “Faith and Politics” on the schedule with guest speakers NT Wright and Vince Bacote. As an extension site for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School we worked on a wraparound class for that series and I helped develop the first bibliography and reading list for that class, which was the genesis for what I’m sharing below.

As the pandemic accelerated, NT Wright was unable to travel in April (we rescheduled him for 2021) and we delayed the series on politics. I eventually re-worked the two week series on faith and politics into a broader five-week series on the kingdom of God. Thankfully, we were still able to have Vince Bacote join us and you can watch his lecture, as well as a follow-up Q&A, here: “The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life.”

It should go without saying that I do not agree with the perspective shared within all of these works. However, many of them which I disagree with are still important for any discussion of faith and politics.

Bibliography for “Faith and Politics”

Augustine. City of God. Edited and translated by R. W. Dyson. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. (1278 pages – Augustine’s magisterial exploration of the relationship between the city of God and the city of earth)

Vincent E. Bacote. The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life. Ordinary Theology Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. (90 pages – a summary of key issues on faith engaging culture)

Robert Benne. Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010. (120 pages – written out of frustration with current failures of thinking, Benne offers some core convictions about Christian political engagement and how that should shape public policy and political action)

Amy E. Black. Beyond Left and Right: Helping American Christians Make Sense of American Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008. (254 pages – Wheaton College political science professor offers an engaging look at key issues in political theology with attention to key issues)

________, ed. Five Views on the Church and Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. (240 pages – part of Zondervan’s Counterpoints series, this book offers outlines of political thought from Anabaptist, African America, Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed perspectives, with responses to each outline by others)

Gregory A. Boyd. The Myth of a Christian Nation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. (207 pages – written around the 2004 election, Boyd’s central thesis is “a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry”)

John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007. (1059 pages – Calvin’s treatment of law and government were defining for Protestant theology since his time)

D. A. Carson. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012. (255 pages – an evangelical New Testament scholar offers a revision of Niebuhr’s typology of Christian cultural engagement with a chapter on church and state)

Craig A. Carter. Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2006. (224 pages – a critique of Richard Niebuhr’s typology and proposes a typology better suited to mission after Christendom)

William T. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey, Craig Hovey. An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012. (836 pages – a collection of 49 readings from key thinkers on political theology in the past couple centuries)

Eugene Cho. Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide for Engaging Politics. Nashville: David C. Cook, 2020. (272 pages – a pastor addresses the manner in which we engage in contemporary political discussions as Christians)

Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Jesus for President. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. (355 pages – the authors offer a progressive evangelical theology that critiques American Christianity’s subjugation to empire)

Andy Crouch. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013. (284 pages – while not strictly about politics, Crouch offers a modern approach to broader cultural engagement for evangelicals)

Patrick J. Deneen. Why Liberalism Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019. (264 pages – an evaluation of why liberalism – in contrast to communism and fascism – is the only remaining viable ideology of the 20th century, but also how inherent features of the success of liberalism are generating its own failure)

Rod Dreher.  The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. New York: Sentinel Books, 2017. (304 pages – a conservative Christian approach to facing into the cultural shifts and political issues of our day)

Jacques Ellul. The Subversion of Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986. (222 pages – Ellul was an influential and iconoclastic 20th century thinker, and this book specifically looks at the deviation between the life of the Church and the teachings of Jesus)

John Fea. Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. Louisville, KY: Westminters John Knox, 2011. (287 pages – a historical survey of American religion and politics with attention to specific figures in response to the question in the title)

________. Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018. (238 pages – a historian’s evaluation of factors, particularly a politics of fear, that contributed to 80% of white evangelicals voting for Donald Trump)

Frances Fitzgerald. The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. (740 pages – a Pulitzer-prize winning historian offers an insightful history of how evangelicalism has shaped American culture and politics)

Greg Forster. The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008. (254 pages –introduces the history of Christian political thought traced out in Western culture—a culture experiencing the dissolution of a long-fought-for consensus around natural law theory)

Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler. Compassion and Conviction: The AND Campaign’s guide to faithful civic engagement. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2020. (147 pages – a basic guide to political theology as applied to the US political system in the present moment)

Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. (419 pages – professor of psychology addresses the divisions within our society and a potential pathway forward through mutual understanding)

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon. Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, expanded 25th anniversary edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014.  (198 pages –a prophetic vision of how the Church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today’s world)

James Davison Hunter. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. (368 pages – the author engages with prevailing Christian approaches to changing the world and political engagement with a suggestion of a way forward through “faithful presence”)

Willie James Jennings. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. New Haven: Yale U. P., 2010. (384 pages – a look at the concept of race and the way it shapes our theology and approach to many issues, including politics)

George Kalantzis and Gregory W. Lee, eds. Christian Political Witness. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2014. (240 pages – a collection of essays on biblical, historical and theological proposals for thinking responsibly about the intersection of church and state in the contemporary cultural situation)

Martin Luther King, Jr. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2003. (736 pages – a collection of the most important writings and speeches by the premier leader of the American civil rights movement, including his invaluable “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”)

David T. Koyzis. Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies, 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019. (330 pages – the author examines five common political visions – liberalism, conservativism, democracy, nationalism, and socialism – offering a Christian critique of each and suggested way forward)

Abraham Kuyper. Lectures on Calvinism: Six Lectures from the Stone Foundation Lectures Delivered at Princeton University. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1898, 2008. (182 pages – a classic representation of the Reformed tradition and the basis of what seem view as a distinctly Kuyperian approach to cultural engagement)

Tremper Longman III. The Bible and the Ballot: Using Scripture in Political Decisions. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020. (310 pages – an Old Testament scholar provides a specifically biblical approach to issues that are divisive in our political sphere)

Richard J. Mouw. Political Evangelism.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973. (111 pages – Mouw reflects on the inadequacies of separatism and activism, while also pointing to an alternative of appropriate political engagement as part of the evangelistic – outward – activity of the church)

Reinhold Niebuhr. Major Works on Religion and Politics. Library of America. New York: Library of America, 2015. (850 pages – Niebuhr was one of the premier thinkers of the early 20th century and his political thought continues to influence writers and practitioners, including Barack Obama)

H. Richard Niebuhr. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1951. (259 pages – this classic work provided the most enduring typology for evaluating Christian engagement with culture since its publication)

Richard John Niehaus. The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984. (280 pages – long-time author and founder of the journal First Things, Niehaus offers a conservative evangelical vision of political engagement)

Mark A. Noll. God and Race in American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. P., 2008. (226 pages – the premier historian of American evangelicalism evaluates the way that religion and race have factored into American politics)

Oliver O’Donovan. The Desire of Nations: Rediscovering the roots of political theology. New York: Cambridge U. P., 1996. (304 pages – a work of systematic Christian political thought, combining Biblical interpretation, historical discussion of the Western political and theological tradition, theoretical construction and critical engagement with contemporary views)

________ and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan. From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. (858 pages – a reference tool that provides an overview of the history of Christian political thought with selections from second century to the seventeenth century)

C. C. Pecknold. Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010. (196 pages – a brief guide to the history of Christianity and politics, showing how early Christianity reshaped the Western political imagination with its new theological claims about eschatological time, participation, and communion with God and neighbor)

Elizabeth Phillips. Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum Boos, 2012. (208 pages – This is a concise and accessible advanced introduction which distinguishes various approaches to political theology, and which explores several of the central issues addressed in political theologies)

Kaitlyn Schiess. The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020. (207 pages – an application of spiritual formation practices to the political sphere from a younger evangelical perspective)

Ronald J. Sider and Diane Knippers, editors. Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005. (380 pages – a collection of essays from a broadly evangelical perspective, ranging from theological to practical; Nicholas Wolterstorff’s essay, “Theological Foundations for an Evangelical Political Philosophy” is a highlight)

James W. Skillen. The Good of Politics: A Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014. (214 pages – the author evaluates the biblical drama, key historical developments, and pathways toward engaging contemporary political issues)

James K. A. Smith. Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017. (256 pages – the third part of Smith’s cultural liturgies series offers an Augustinian model for engaging the current political situation in our culture that is rooted in worship)

Howard Thurman. Jesus and the Disinherited. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976. (128 pages – demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised because of Jesus entrance into the pain of the oppressed)

Tom Wright. God in Public: How the Bible speaks truth to power today. London: SPCK, 2016. (190 pages – a little known work of NT Wright that, while somewhat English in application, offers an approach to biblical theology that throws fresh light on political and ethical problems of our day)

Miroslav Volf. A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011. (192 pages – Volf writes a lot about human flourishing and the common good, and this book serves as a good introduction to his line of thinking and practice on these issues)

Jim Wallis. God’s Politics. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. (384 pages – long-time author and editor of Sojourners, Wallis offers a progressive evangelical vision of political engagement)

John Howard Yoder. The Politics of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972. (260 pages – Yoder’s classic outline of an Anabaptist view of cultural engagement has shaped  many thinkers up to this day)

Bibliography for The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews

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When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share the resources I used to help me study and prepare my sermons. Here is that bibliography for our recently completed series, “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews.”

Bibliography for “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews”

Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed. Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007.

Richard Bauckham, ed. The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

F. F. Bruce. The Epistle to the Hebrews, revised. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990.

John Calvin. Commentaries on Hebrews. Calvin’s Commentaries. Translated by John Owen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996.

John Chrysostom. Homilies on Hebrews. NPNF, first series, volume 14. Edited by Philip Schaff. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Paul Ellingworth. The Epistle to the Hebrews. NIGTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

Jon C. Laansma. “The Living and Active Word of God: A Theological Reading of Hebrews.” In Listen, Understand, Obey: Essays on Hebrews in Honor of Gareth Lee Cockerill, ed. Caleb T. Friedeman, 54-74. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017.

William L. Lane. Hebrews 1-8. WBC. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1991.

________. Hebrews 9-13. WBC. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1991.

________. “Hebrews.” In Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development, eds. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, 443-58. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

________. Hebrews: A Call to Commitment. Vancouver, BC: Regent Publishing, 2004.

Peter T O’Brien. “God as the Speaking God: ‘Theology’ in the Letter of the Hebrews.” In Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century, eds. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert W. Yarbrough. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011.

________. “Warning Passages Ahead.” Interview by Colin Hansen. Gospel Coalition, January 9, 2012.

James G. S. S. Thomson. The Praying Christ: A Study of Jesus’ Doctrine and Practice of Prayer. Vancouver, BC: Regent Publishing, 1959.

The Wonderful Exchange: John Calvin on the assurance and delight of the Lord’s Supper

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As I continue reading through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion this summer, here is Calvin reflecting on the significance of the Lord’s Supper for our encouragement as believers. Notice Calvin’s powerful series of contrasts at the end of this quotation.

Godly souls can gather great assurance and delight from this Sacrament; in it they have a witness of our growth into one body with Christ such that whatever is his may be called ours. As a consequence, we may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which he is the heir, is ours; and that the Kingdom of Heaven, into which he has already entered, can no more be cut off from us than from him; again, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt he has absolved us, since he willed to take them upon himself as if they were his own. This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weak-poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.

[From John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill (Philadelphias, PA: The Westminster Press, 1960), 1361-62.]

We Belong to God: John Calvin on the Duty of Believers

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As I read through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion this summer, occasionally I am sharing sections that strike me with particular force. Here is Calvin reflecting on the summary of the Christian life beginning in self-denial in order that the life of Christ might spring up within us by God’s grace.

Even though the law of the Lord provides the finest and best-disposed method of ordering a man’s life, it seemed good to the Heavenly Teacher to shape his people by an even more explicit plan to that rule which he had set forth in the law. Here, then, is the beginning of this plan: the duty of believers is “to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him,” and in this consists the lawful worship of him [Rom 12:1]. From this is derived the basis of the exhortation that “they be not conformed to the fashion of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds, so that they may prove what is the will of God” [Rom 12:2]. Now the great thing is this: we are consecrated and dedicated to God in order that we may thereafter think, speak, meditate, and do, nothing except to his glory. For a sacred thing may not be applied to profane uses without marked injury to him.

If we, then, are not our own [cf. 1 Cor 6:19] but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life.

We are not our own: let not our reason no our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are nor our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours.

Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal [Rom 14:8; cf. 1 Cor 6:19]. O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sol haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.

Let us therefore be the first step, that a man depart from himself in order that he may apply the whole force of his ability in service of the Lord. I call “service” not only what lies in obedience to God’s Word but what turns the mind of man, empty of its own carnal sense, wholly to the bidding of God’s Spirit. While it is the first entrance to life, all philosophers were ignorant of this transformation, which Paul calls “renewal of the mind” [Eph 4:23]. For they set up reason alone as the ruling principle in man, and think that it alone should be listened to; to it alone, in short, they entrust the conduct of life. But the Christian philosophy bids reason give way to, submit and subject itself to, the Holy Spirit so that the man himself may no longer live but hear Christ leaving and reigning within him [Gal 2:20].

[From John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill (Philadelphias, PA: The Westminster Press, 1960), 689-690.]

Christ Alone: John Calvin on drinking our fill from the fountain of Christ

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I came across this the other night as I was reading through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. This overflowing reflection on Christ’s person and work caps off Calvin’s theological reflections on The Apostles’ Creed.

We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:12]. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him’ [1 Cor. 1:30]. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [cf. Heb 5:2]. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13]; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain and from no other. Some men, not content with him alone, are borne hither and thither from one hope to another; even if they concern themselves chiefly with him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where men have once for all truly known the abundance of his blessings.

[From John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill (Philadelphias, PA: The Westminster Press, 1960), 527-528.]