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)

The Weekend Wanderer: 28 March 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

116238“To Cancel or Not to Cancel: That Is the Question” – Like so many other church leaders, I have wrestled with adjusting to the new challenges of this time of COVID-19. We quickly cancelled public gatherings, including weekend services, due to state and local governmental orders services, but also out of the desire to love our neighbor by not spreading the virus. I do know that many churches continue to struggle with these decisions and what it means to “not forsake meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25) while also “being subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). Here is a joint statement on that topic issued by The National Association of Evangelicals and Christianity Today.


Tom Wright Coronavirus“Ask NT Wright Anything #33 – Tom on Coronavirus, self-isolating and praying through crisis” – If you’re not acquainted with the podcast, “Ask NT Wright Anything,” this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Hosted by Justin Brierley, this episode finds Tom Wright self-isolating in his home in Oxford, covering topics related to the Coronavirus pandemic. “They cover: How Christians can maintain spiritual health during isolation, the pastoral implications for churches now and in the future, and why God created a world where disease and sickness exist.”


_111407082_priest_976“Coronavirus: At least 50 priests killed by coronavirus” –  What does selfless love look like? Maybe like this. “The deadly coronavirus sweeping across the world has killed at least 50 priests, officials say. They include Father Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, who died early this month in Lovere, Bergamo – one of the worst-hit cities in Italy. Reports on Tuesday that he had chosen to give his respirator to a younger coronavirus patient he did not know have been denied by close friends. Italy is the world’s worst affected country with 6,820 deaths so far.”


Oberammergau

“Pandemic postpones Oberammergau ‘Passion Play,’ itself a response to a plague”  – In neighboring Germany, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a different sort of change. “In 1632, when the bubonic plague was spreading death across Europe and killed at least one member of every family in a small Bavarian Alpine town, distraught villagers in Oberammergau made a vow to God to perform a Passion play depicting the death and resurrection of Christ if their lives could be spared. As the legend goes, no further deaths were recorded and the Passionspiele — reenacting the end of the life of Jesus — has been staged every decade, or 41 times, since 1634. The coronavirus pandemic has now forced the cancellation of the 2020 edition — a total of 109 five-hour-long performances scheduled to run from May 16 to October 4. Officials announced Thursday that the world-famous open-air production, which features 2,500 residents from the town of 5,400, would be postponed two years, to May 2022.”


When a third of the world died“When a Third of the World Died” – History is important in the present moment to help us gain perspective on our own time, but also to learn from the past. Here is Mark Galli’s 1996 article from Christian History about the black plague in 14th century Europe, and its impact on the world and the church. “From 1347 to about 1350, medieval Europe experienced perhaps the greatest calamity in human history. It shouldn’t surprise us that this plague, or the Black Death as it is often called, left its mark on medieval Christianity. But in many cases, the mark it left looked as hideous as the symptoms of the Black Death itself.”


Chung Sye-kyun“S.Korea to act against churches for defying COVID-19 guidelines” – “South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Monday that his government is planning legal action against some Protestant churches for going ahead with their services, defying the ban on social gatherings. The move comes after the government claim that social distancing measures have shown positive results. South Korea on Monday said that it has reported the lowest daily figure of new COVID-19 or novel coronavirus infection since its outbreak….Chung said stern measures would be taken against churches, who have defined guidelines, meant to stem the spread of the virus. ‘The act of churches has seriously hurt not only the safety of individuals attending the service but also communities,’ Chung said while heading a meeting of various government agencies.”


116306“Pastors from Europe Tell North America: Get Ready Now” – A pastor friend shared this article by Ed Stetzer with me and I found it incredibly helpful and challenging. “This week, the Send Institute hosted a Zoom call with pastors, church planters, and missionaries in Italy and Spain to show solidarity and to glean from them how to prepare North American churches for the next few weeks. The resounding theme from the call was: Get ready.


Communion“Worship and Sacrament When the Church Is Scattered” – Every once in awhile you experience something fun when you discover two people you know separately actually know each other. That happened to me this past week when The Pastor Theologians Podcast featured Chris Ganski of City Reformed Church here in Milwaukee with Benj Petroelje, who I know from a previous ministry setting, of 14th Street Christian Reformed Church in Holland, MI. In this conversation, the two pastors explores what it means to worship and celebrate the sacraments in the time of COVID-19.


 

Music: Kirk Franklin and the Family, “Now Behold the Lamb,” from Christmas

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 7 December 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

candlelight“Advent begins in the dark” – Fleming Rutledge is one of the most astute preachers and pastoral theologians in America today. Her book, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus, was not only one of the most celebrated books of 2017, but an insightful and accessible approach to the center of our faith. Here is Rutledge with a brief, poetic prayer for Advent.

 

burkina-faso2“Five boys and pastor among 14 Christians shot dead in Burkina Faso church massacre” – Nothing reminds us so much of how Advent begins in the dark and how God comes into our darkness than reading about the persecuted church. What sadness struck me this week when I read about this terrible tragedy in the beleaguered church in Burkina Faso. Read this and pray. Also, consider praying for other brothers and sisters in the countries where believers are most persecuted around the world.

 

Trump Holds Campaign Event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania“The Crisis of American Christianity, Viewed From Great Britain” – When you find the air so thick from charged political rhetoric that you can no longer tell what is really going on, it is sometimes helpful to get a perspective from outside the environment. Here is British theologian and New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, commenting on the current crisis in American Christianity within the charged political atmosphere of our days.

 

Wayne Grudem“Wayne Grudem Changes Mind About Divorce in Cases of Abuse” – To outsiders, this may seem like non-news, but for those within evangelicalism, this is at least somewhat noteworthy. Wayne Grudem is an acclaimed evangelical theologian, careful biblical scholar, and conservative complementarian through and through. He has wanted to avoid lax allowances for divorce in the past to the degree that his statements have supported spouses staying within abusive marriages. At the recent Evangelical Theological Society meetings, Grudem strongly reversed his views on divorce in cases of abuse. This is a welcome change, if not a little late in my mind, particularly in the era of #MeToo and #ChurchToo.

 

Potted "family-tree"“The New Kinship Engineering” – What are we to make of our newfound powers through scientific breakthroughs brought together with our newly asserted freedom from shared ethical frameworks? The questions and debates are nearly never-ending, but this article by Brendan Foht highlights what may seem like an extreme example to wake us up to the need for careful thinking. “The willingness of the fertility industry to use experimental technologies like three-parent IVF to satisfy the kinship desire of prospective parents, even when it means putting the health of children at risk, bodes ill for how they will use the even more powerful technologies of genetic engineering now on the horizon.”

 

Unrendered image of The Lord's Prayer. Taken with Canon Powershot G3“Seeing the Lord Behind the Lord’s Prayer” – Wesley Hill wrote a volume in Lexham Press’ recent series on Christian Essentials. The entire series looks excellent, although I have not had the chance to read them yet. Here is a review of Hill’s volume on the Lord’s Prayer by Tina Boesch. Of all the things you could give as a gift to family and friends this Christmas, Hill’s book looks to be a worthy option.

 

Music: Sufjan Stevens, “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming,” from Songs for Christmas

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]