POLITICS, CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS
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.
- Primers on Politics in General
- Primers on Political Ideology
- Primers on Political Theology
- Survey and Critique of Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement
- Representative Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement
- Survey and Critique of Views on the Relationship Between Church and Culture
- Related Ministry Resources
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.
LifeandLeadership.com 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.
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.
- William T. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey, and Craig Hovey, Editors, An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology – A set of essays on political theology designed for students who are introduced to the subject for the first time.
- Peter Scott and William T. Cavanaugh, The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (Blackwell Companions to Religion) – A large anthology of articles that analyze political systems from the perspective of God’s working in the world.
Survey and Critique of Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement
- J. Budziszewski, Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action – Assesses the influence of four leading figures: Carl F. H. Henry, Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and John Howard Yoder.
- P. C. Kemeny, Clarke E. Cochran, Derek H. Davis, Ronald J. Sider, and Corwin Smidt, Church, State, and Public Justice: Five Views — Introduces five major perspectives — Catholic Social Teaching, Classic Separation (Baptist), Reformed Principled Pluralist, Evangelical Anabaptist, and Social Justice / Mainline Protestant. Each is followed by critical responses from the other representatives.
- James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World – Offers an interesting, balanced critique of three different “factions” on Christian politics that have tried to bring about change through power: the Conservative Right (“defensive against”), the Progressive Left (“relevance to”), and the Neo-Anabaptists (“purity from”). Proposes a fourth way of “faithful presence.”
- Stephen Mott, Biblical Ethics and Social Change, Second Edition – Promotes ethical practices of social change through evangelism, counter community, civil disobedience, armed revolution, and political reform.
Representative Views on Christian Social and Political Engagement
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
- David Fitch, The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology — Articulates a missional/evangelical political theology that starts with three beliefs — Scripture, conversionist salvation, and an active evangelistic church in the world — and asks how they shape a people concretely for participation in the missio Dei
- Charles E. Gutenson, Christians and the Common Good: How Faith Intersects with Public Life – Calls Christians to be informed by and committed to God’s larger interests, and reach beyond strict party affiliations to influence matters on the local, national, and international levels.>
Survey and Critique of Views on the Relationship Between Church and Culture
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).
- D. A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisited — Critique of Niebuhr from a conservative evangelical perspective. Argues that any single view of Christ and culture may be theologically limited by omitting, minimizing, or over-emphasizing one or more pieces of the biblical story line. Sets the discussion into the current postmodern landscape, and offers reasoned critique of the current “Jesus and Empire” discussions.
- T. M. Moore, Culture Matters: A Call For Consensus on Christian Cultural Engagement — Evaluates Niebuhr from a Reformed, Kuyperian viewpoint, provides a helpful grid on six Christian approaches to culture, and issues an impassioned plea for Christians be more intentional in their appropriation of culture.
- Craig A. Carter, Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective — Evaluates Niebuhr from an Anabaptist perspective, aligning with John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas in stressing a strict separation of church and state.
Related Ministry Resources
Other Resources on Social Ministry, Social Justice, and Urban Ministry:
- Social Ministry, Social Justice, Urban Ministry – INTRODUCTION
- THEOLOGICAL and PHILOSOPHICAL Foundations of Social Ministry, Social Justice, Urban Ministry
- SPIRITUALITY for Social Ministry, Social Justice, and Urban Ministry
- STRATEGIES For Christian Social Ministry and Social Justice
- URBAN MINISTRY – Strategies For Social Ministry and Social Justice Among the Urban Poor
- Christian Perspectives on POLITICS and Church-State Relations
- Christian Perspectives on ECONOMICS and Public Policy
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: