Social Ministry, Political Theory, Church-State Relations

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Includes Church and Culture

Part of the ministry resources on Christian Social Ministry, Social Justice. It is categorized in the site archive that is not updated past 2012.


Most contemporary discussions about mission, especially in the missional/emergent conversations and among those who have a passion for social justice, eventually turn to the questions of the relationship between the church and governmental affairs. Most of these discusssions strongly advocate a particular view of scripture, the world, the relationships between church-state-politics, and the best ways to serve the various need groups.

Social ministries often involve more interfacing with government policies on community, state, and national levels. Most will simply act out of conscience without thinking through this relationship. The role of church leaders, however, as “resident theologians,” is to help congregations express their social conscience in ways that uphold God’s vision for both the church and the state as his agents for good. The books summarized in this Ministry Resource Guide help toward that end. purposely avoids political alignment. No political agenda is sufficient to capture God’s grand vision for creation, and partnering with political parties may blur our witness as both participants and onlookers mistake a political platform for the Gospel. Also, this site does not specialize in political thought, but suggests select introductory resources that provide exposure to the field and a foundation for further study.

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Primers on Politics in General

Francis J. Beckwith, Politics for Christians, Statecraft as Soulcraft (Christian Worldview Integration Series) – The closest thing to a balanced Christian introduction to American politics. Provides a brief overview of the study of politics, distinguishing between political theory, comparative politics, American politics, international relations, political economy, and public law. Discusses the relationship of Christians to a liberal democracy, the separation of church and state, and the meaning and implications of the concept of “inalienable rights.”

Primers on Political Ideology

David P. Koyzis, Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies — Good overview of liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy, and socialism, pointing out where each reflects or fails to reflect biblical theology. Proposes a nonideological alternative of societal pluriformity.

Primers on Political Theology

As defined by Wikipedia: Political theology or public theology is a branch of both political philosophy and practical theology that investigates the ways in which theological concepts or ways of thinking underlie political, social, economic and cultural discourses.

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Survey and Critique of Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement

Representative Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement

Conservative Evangelical

Wayne Grudem, Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture – Probably the best place to go for a credible articulation of evangelical conservative politics. A massive, 600-page text covering most conceivable questions on the issue.

Missional / Evangelical

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Survey and Critique of Views on the Relationship Between Church and Culture

First read

H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture — The recognized classic expression, even after 50 years. Provides five typologies of how churches relate to culture: Christ against culture (exclusivist), Christ of culture (culturalist), Christ above culture (synthesist), Christ and culture in paradox (dualist), and Christ transforming culture (conversionist).

Critical review

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Related Ministry Resources

Other Resources on Social Ministry, Social Justice, and Urban Ministry:

See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry:

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