TITLE: Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason
AUTHOR: Amy E. Black
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2012, (208 pages).
- "Politics is dirty."
- "Politics is a four-letter word."
- "We cannot mix politics with religion. Separation of Church and State remember?"
- "All politicians are crooks."
Amy Black, a Professor in political science at Wheaton College shares with us a wealth of information regarding the modern cultural perceptions of politics and parties, an insight into how the American political system is designed, a brief history of the separation of powers and the separation of Church and State, and a hugely beneficial section on how Christians can engage constructively in the political arena. In Part One, Black makes a case that there are more upsides to politics than what most people think. While there are perils of political work, we need to keep in mind the promises and the potential of God working out for good in the world of politics. Black puts forth ample biblical support for the active engagement of politics simply because religion and politics inform each other. If that is the case, retreating from talking about it is unhelpful. Constructive engagement is needed. She suggests four principles on how to do this.
- When talking about politics, display humility
- It is ok to disagree without calling each other unChristian. Diversity always imply a difference of opinions.
- Do not use the label "Christian" to validate any political stand, simply because such labels belong solely to God. In other words, don't say things like, "God tell me......" frivolously.
- Use politics as a way to demonstrate love for God and neighbour, and not a sledgehammer to pound our views across.
Part Three is the key section for readers who are Christian, and want to learn how to honor God when engaging in politics. Black compares and contrasts four different traditions of political theology, namely the Catholic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, and Reformed perspectives. She shows us how to avoid tribal politics and engage more in dialogue and how to disagree peacefully. Learning how to disagree is so important that Black sets aside more than one chapter to let Scriptural truth shine and guide our steps. She also gives tips on how to evaluate any policy or party stand. One way is to first search for common ground, and then agree to disagree on the rest, later. The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr describes the role of the Church as follows:
"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state."
This wisely put phrase sets into perspective how Christians are to interact with the State, maintaining a separation of religion from politics without missing a beat with regards to engagement meaningfully and purposefully. Finally, when deciding how to vote, Black provides the following tips:
- Evaluate each candidate on the basis of how trustworthy he/she is, based on one's understanding of fair representation.
- Be prepared with what political issues most matter to us
- Set priorities on which issues are most important
- See how well the running candidate fits the requirements, duties for the post
- Learn about the candidate and the office
- Discern what the campaigns are trying to communicate
- If needed, volunteer to get a closer look at the person, the party, and how well the candidate is practicing the political ideology.
Ratin: 4.75 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.