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 Is it possible to be passionate about the gospel and care deeply about politics? Can we engage in politics responsibly, confidently, graciously—even Christianly?   When it comes to politics, Christians today seem lost and confused. Many Christians desire to relate their faith to politics but simply don’t know how. This book exists to equip the reader to apply Christianity  Is it possible to be passionate about the gospel and care deeply about politics? Can we engage in politics responsibly, confidently, graciously—even Christianly?   When it comes to politics, Christians today seem lost and confused. Many Christians desire to relate their faith to politics but simply don’t know how. This book exists to equip the reader to apply Christianity to politics with both grace and truth, with both boldness and humility.   Politics is not an evil arena to be avoided. Neither is it our only avenue for impacting society. The reality is much more complex and, oddly enough, much more promising.  


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 Is it possible to be passionate about the gospel and care deeply about politics? Can we engage in politics responsibly, confidently, graciously—even Christianly?   When it comes to politics, Christians today seem lost and confused. Many Christians desire to relate their faith to politics but simply don’t know how. This book exists to equip the reader to apply Christianity  Is it possible to be passionate about the gospel and care deeply about politics? Can we engage in politics responsibly, confidently, graciously—even Christianly?   When it comes to politics, Christians today seem lost and confused. Many Christians desire to relate their faith to politics but simply don’t know how. This book exists to equip the reader to apply Christianity to politics with both grace and truth, with both boldness and humility.   Politics is not an evil arena to be avoided. Neither is it our only avenue for impacting society. The reality is much more complex and, oddly enough, much more promising.  

30 review for One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kris Howard

    My rating has more to do with that I think this book accomplishes its purpose with excellence!! I'm not sure yet that I agree with everything he says but it's an excellent, digestible exposition of how believers can and should engage with politics. My rating has more to do with that I think this book accomplishes its purpose with excellence!! I'm not sure yet that I agree with everything he says but it's an excellent, digestible exposition of how believers can and should engage with politics.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cecily Bader

    I struggled a lot with this book. I came in with high hopes and the first few chapters were great. I felt seen and encouraged in the midst of a struggle to know how to engage well in the political sphere while honoring God. But around Chapter 4, things started to unravel for me. For example, one statement conflated the rise in diversity in our country to the rise of post-Christianity, without discussing any other possible causes for that post-Christian trend, and that seemed to me to be an incre I struggled a lot with this book. I came in with high hopes and the first few chapters were great. I felt seen and encouraged in the midst of a struggle to know how to engage well in the political sphere while honoring God. But around Chapter 4, things started to unravel for me. For example, one statement conflated the rise in diversity in our country to the rise of post-Christianity, without discussing any other possible causes for that post-Christian trend, and that seemed to me to be an incredibly careless, if not dangerous, statement. Then, in the interlude, between the theoretical talk of Christians in politics and the practical talk about specific issues, I felt comforted. The authors said about this section, "To attempt such an endeavor immediately runs the risk of implying that there is one way to answer and approach each issue—or, even worse, that one particular political party conforms to the kingdom of God... Thus what follows, while manifestly political, is far from a political manifesto." I was grateful for that - expecting what would follow to be a good guide of how, in contentious issues, Christians can navigate the political sphere and come to different ideas and ways of living out their faith, honoring God similarly while perhaps voting differently. Instead, what followed was indeed a political manifesto. In the following seven chapters, despite the claimed goal of not pointing towards a specific political party, the authors consistently pointed towards a specific political party. They took each issue and brought in the biblical truth, which I did not disagree with, but then failed to make the jump to how we can live out that biblical truth in a post-Christian, non-theocratic society. That has always been my struggle in the political realm... where is the line between holding myself as a believer to a specific standard and law and my society to a certain morality, but not promoting theocracy. I know what the bible says about these issues, but there is a further step of what to do with those beliefs in a diverse, post-Christian political environment, and that step was not sufficiently addressed in this book. That being said, it made me think and wrestle and express many frustrations, and that was a good thing. I am trying to challenge myself to engage with things I struggle with or disagree with and find commonality in them instead of wallowing in and furthering division, so this book did achieve that goal. But overall, I was disappointed and discouraged by this book in many ways.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is a great starting point for Christian believers who want to faithfully and graciously engage with politics. It's not a list of what to believe or how to vote, but instead provides a lot of thought provoking material that challenges and encourages as we think about how to engage with politics. The first half of the book is more general guidelines of how to think about the political realm and what its role should be and our role within it. The latter half of the book breaks down some m This book is a great starting point for Christian believers who want to faithfully and graciously engage with politics. It's not a list of what to believe or how to vote, but instead provides a lot of thought provoking material that challenges and encourages as we think about how to engage with politics. The first half of the book is more general guidelines of how to think about the political realm and what its role should be and our role within it. The latter half of the book breaks down some more specific "hot button" issues that are facing us today. These chapters are by no means exhaustive of the nuance and different perspectives of these issues, which is why I loved that they included recommended further reading at the end of each chapter. I think these authors did a pretty good job of introducing a way to look at issues in a more balanced and biblical way, instead of black and white. Even where I did not agree with their opinions or conclusions wholeheartedly, I could appreciate their effort to get people thinking and to introduce principles that can equip us all to be more faithfully engaged with politics.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Explores whether and how it is appropriate for Christians in the American context to engage in politics, how one brings one's faith into this, and applies this to seven contemporary issues. Politics is front and center right now in the middle of the presidential convention season. The question of how people of faith engage in the political process is a larger question than just how we pursue electoral politics. Whether and how we engage our political processes is a question over which Ch Summary: Explores whether and how it is appropriate for Christians in the American context to engage in politics, how one brings one's faith into this, and applies this to seven contemporary issues. Politics is front and center right now in the middle of the presidential convention season. The question of how people of faith engage in the political process is a larger question than just how we pursue electoral politics. Whether and how we engage our political processes is a question over which Christians have pondered from New Testament times down to the present. What Ashford and Pappalardo provide here is a thoughtful primer addressed particularly to the current American context that can be useful for both adult education classes in churches and as a text in Christian colleges as part of a political science reading list. The first part of the book seeks to frame a perspective for participation in the political process. It seeks to understand politics within the framework of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation--a process that reflects us as image bearers, has been affected by the fall, and is shaped by Christian hope. The book surveys four approaches to cultural and political engagement, similar to H. Richard Neibuhr's Christ and Culture. They draw on Kuyper's concept of "sphere sovereignty" to discuss the relation of church and state under the overarching Lordship of Christ, avoiding extremes of statism or theocracy. And this part concludes with the need for wisdom and conviction as we engage a post-Christian and plural public square. We need to be skilled at articulating both "thick", biblically informed positions, and "thin" public articulations that use shared language and points of common ground to make our arguments. The second half of this book explores seven contemporary issues of public discussion and seeks to exemplify the "thick-thin" approach to these. The issues are those of life and death, marriage and sexuality, economics and wealth, the environment and ecological stewardship, racial diversity and race relations, immigration, and war and peace. What a struck me was the inclusion of issues of race, environment, and immigration in a book published by a conservative, Baptist-based press. While still leaning toward some of the positions of "the religious right" the section on environment refuses to engage in climate-change denial but advocates creation care, the section on race admits our long and sad history and the work to be done, and the section on immigration challenges both parties for their stands and actions. Similar to Russell Moore's Onward (published by the same publisher and reviewed here), this takes a more "prophetic" prospective arguing that the church must indeed speak "truth to power" to those in both major parties without becoming captive to either. In fact, this is the theme of the concluding chapter, which commends the example of Augustine as one who was steeped both in the scriptures and the great works of Roman culture and could speak with both "thick" and "thin" language, depending on context and need. As noted above, this is a great introductory book for discussions on Christian political involvement. It introduces the thoughtful contributions of a wide range of people from Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak to Martin Luther King, Jr., Francis Schaeffer, and Rosaria Butterfield. The "issue" chapters conclude with discussion questions and suggestions for further reading. I hope this book will be widely used and might foster a more constructive engagement of Christians in politics and a more thoughtful and gracious discourse in future years. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cierra

    When I first picked this up, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was looking for a tool to help guide me through the Bible and help me understand what it says about government, politics, and controversial issues. I took my time reading this, taking notes along the way and re-reading sections because it is so dense with information. This book begins with Creation and understanding how we as human beings fit into God’s creation, what that means, and how it affects other areas of our life. It g When I first picked this up, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was looking for a tool to help guide me through the Bible and help me understand what it says about government, politics, and controversial issues. I took my time reading this, taking notes along the way and re-reading sections because it is so dense with information. This book begins with Creation and understanding how we as human beings fit into God’s creation, what that means, and how it affects other areas of our life. It goes on to discuss politics and government and their roles as well. The second part of the book takes a closer look at specific issues in today’s society and what the Bible has to say about those topics (abortion, same-sex marriage, war, immigration, etc.). Each issue is an individual chapter and at the end of the chapter the authors have discussion questions as well as additional resources on that topic for further study. I would highly recommend this one if you are interested in learning and understanding a Christian’s role in politics and how to guide conversations with non-believers on hot button issues. I will definitely be adding this to my bookshelf for reference.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Rust

    I think this book accomplished well what it set out to communicate! I only took a star off because I wish some of the chapters went into further detail or fleshed out the other side of the argument a bit more, although I do appreciate the multiple references that were given to dig deeper if desired. While I’m still processing if I agree with everything the author wrote, I am overall very impressed and encouraged by the amount of Scripture and logic that was used to defend the authors’ arguments. I think this book accomplished well what it set out to communicate! I only took a star off because I wish some of the chapters went into further detail or fleshed out the other side of the argument a bit more, although I do appreciate the multiple references that were given to dig deeper if desired. While I’m still processing if I agree with everything the author wrote, I am overall very impressed and encouraged by the amount of Scripture and logic that was used to defend the authors’ arguments. I would highly recommend this book to anyone feeling overwhelmed by the conversations surrounding politics and wanting guidance in how to reason as a Christian within these spheres!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    Ashford and Pappalardo have put together an incredibly brief, straightforward and accessible treatment of how a Christian might engage with most of the primary political issues of this day and age. Despite the subtitle of "A Christian Hope for American Politics," what they argue and explore in this book is relevant for every society and culture. The issues they address are of primary concern in America right now, but the points they make are much more universal and relevant to political engageme Ashford and Pappalardo have put together an incredibly brief, straightforward and accessible treatment of how a Christian might engage with most of the primary political issues of this day and age. Despite the subtitle of "A Christian Hope for American Politics," what they argue and explore in this book is relevant for every society and culture. The issues they address are of primary concern in America right now, but the points they make are much more universal and relevant to political engagement. Of special significance for Christians of the current age is their arguments for how to engage the issues at hand. While Ashford and Pappalardo do offer up very concise summaries of issues and the positives and negatives of primary arguments surrounding them, they also continually address the question of how one might engage the issues in a Christ-honoring manner. The first half of the book quickly and efficiently works through the basics of a Christian worldview and how that is relevant to politics, effectively establishing a foundation for public theology (which makes this book an incredibly practical companion to a more academic work along similar lines like James K. A. Smith's Awaiting the King). In the second half of the book they deal with the issues. Some (but not all) that are addressed are abortion, euthanasia, just war, marriage, sexuality, environmental concerns, racial issues, and economics. Each chapter tackles a broad category (such as life and death) wherein specific issues reside (like abortion and euthanasia). A scripturally based biblical worldview is presented, and then one or two individuals are presented as examples, both in the arguments they used (so their philosophy/theology is summarized) and then their conduct is also discussed. This latter aspect of the book is especially significant, in my opinion, because Ashford and Pappalardo are able to show that a broad range of Christians have engaged all of these issues in a competent and biblically sound manner while also walking in a 'uncommon civility' which personifies the gospel. This is a book which is accessible for all levels of readers. I could see it being used as an adult study (such as for a Sunday School or Small Group), or even as a textbook for high school or college students. I would highly encourage pastors to read it, as the summaries and biblical foundations are excellent places to start reading and thinking deeper on any of the issues discussed. Obviously, if you are not a Christian, you may take issue with some of the points. For Christians, though, this is an excellent resource which lays out a great foundation for public theology and political activity.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Grace, truth, culture and politics I appreciated the biblical world view of the current culture and political climate we live in, but most especially the suggestions for further reading and research. These authors aren’t asking us to take their word for it, but are instead providing a brief overview to wet our appetites and then encouraging us to faithfully engage with and learn about culture and politics, to educate ourselves on the hot button issues of the day, speak with grace and truth, and t Grace, truth, culture and politics I appreciated the biblical world view of the current culture and political climate we live in, but most especially the suggestions for further reading and research. These authors aren’t asking us to take their word for it, but are instead providing a brief overview to wet our appetites and then encouraging us to faithfully engage with and learn about culture and politics, to educate ourselves on the hot button issues of the day, speak with grace and truth, and to love our neighbor whether they agree with us or not.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Hall

    Christianity and politics. Pretty volatile. Actually, the book is a great discussion of separating Christianity from patriotism and politics. We must be Christians first and Americans second. Prior to the 2016 election I found this book very helpful in balancing Luther's "two kingdoms" in my life. I'm adding this book several months after reading it, so my recollection is somewhat dim. However, I do think this is good for American Christians to read. Christianity and politics. Pretty volatile. Actually, the book is a great discussion of separating Christianity from patriotism and politics. We must be Christians first and Americans second. Prior to the 2016 election I found this book very helpful in balancing Luther's "two kingdoms" in my life. I'm adding this book several months after reading it, so my recollection is somewhat dim. However, I do think this is good for American Christians to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Travis Agnew

    Ashford gives a helpful, biblical path for the Christian navigating the times in the United States. The first half gives a great guide for overarching principles, while the second half gets specific on cultural issues.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I can appreciate how many might find this small handbook a useful introduction or guide. As someone whose profession is the conduct of international diplomacy, I was hoping for something more intellectually substantive.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David

    Short, yet delightfully concise. Additional reading materials are provided at the end for reference.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Craig Hurst

    Many Christians believe politics to be a necessary evil. In other words, politics exist only because sin is present in man and the world. We only need political governance because our sinfulness requires it. God should be our ruler and not man! Further, Paul’s statement in Romans 13 that God has put in place those in government is only the case because of the sinful state in which man finds himself. But is this the case? Is politics a necessary evil? Is it an evil institution by definition? Or is Many Christians believe politics to be a necessary evil. In other words, politics exist only because sin is present in man and the world. We only need political governance because our sinfulness requires it. God should be our ruler and not man! Further, Paul’s statement in Romans 13 that God has put in place those in government is only the case because of the sinful state in which man finds himself. But is this the case? Is politics a necessary evil? Is it an evil institution by definition? Or is the political governance of people a necessary part of human existence regardless of the presence of sin? Authors Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo argue in their new book, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics (B&H, 2015), that a proper understanding of the nature of man, the mandates God gave man, and the governance of people, will help us to see that politics is actually a good part of God’s created order. Similar to the institution of marriage, just because people mess it up does not mean the institution is bad. Just because politics can be full of corruption, greed, and a whole host of sins, does not mean as an institution it is evil. In the first half of the book the authors build a positive case for politics. Given that politics is simply the governance of a society and the theory and practice of influencing others in a society, politics is not inherently evil (9). Even in a world without sin, the authors point out, decisions like what side of the road cars can drive on in a given direction still need to be made. People would be engaging in politics in order to make these decisions. It is through a decision of politics that Americans drive on the right side of the road and the British drive on the left. There would still be thousands of decisions like this in a sin free world. Political governance is the social mechanism through which these decisions would be made. With this understanding of politics in mind the authors explore various aspects of the intersection between Christianity and Americas political system which is not characterized as being Christian and is tainted by sin. Of particular interest is the attitude the authors encourage Christians to hold toward politics. Whatever the historical Christian context may be for the founding of America, it is clear that we are far removed from that and are most likely never going back. How do Christians now live in this increasingly post-Christian political climate? "As faithful Christian citizens, we must never recant our beliefs or act unethically because of pressure put upon by fellow citizens. But as flexible Christian citizens, we must accept the limitations of living in a country composed of fellow citizens who do not share our vision of the good life." (52) The idea of a Christian American is probably lost forever but Christians ought to always be concerned for and involved in politics because it is the social mechanism of social governance that effects us all. The second half of the book seeks to apply the first half of the book in guiding Christians how to think about seven areas of hot political and social discussion: 1. Life and Death 2. Marriage and Sexuality 3. Economics and Wealth 4. The Environment and Ecological Stewardship 5. Racial Diversity and Race Relations 6. Immigrants and Immigration Reform 7. War and Peace Each of the chapters first lay a biblical foundation for each issue. These are necessarily short but get to the heart of each issue. Then they are examined from the current cultural/social/political landscape. Finally, examples are given of Christians who are leading the way in the discussion of these various areas as means for guiding Christians in applying the principles the authors laid out in the first section of the book. One Nation Under God is an accessible, biblically faithful, realistic look at politics from a Christian worldview. Though both authors are theologians and writers, and not politicians, they still write with understanding and authority on this issue. Understanding politics from a creation, fall, redemption, restoration lens helps them to see politics as the good societal structure that it is. I strongly recommend this book for any Christian especially those who are wary of contemporary politics and the Christians role within it. I received this book for free from B&H Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Philliber

    It’s that time! It happens every couple of years when the American blood pressure spikes, the nation grabs it’s communal chest, staggers and stumbles, all red-faced and in cold-sweats. It’s called election season, and by all reports on social media, news accounts, video feeds, journal articles, coffee shop chats and blog posts, it’s the end of America once again! The sun is about to turn black, the moon blood red, stars are on the verge of falling out of the sky to crash into the earth. Into thi It’s that time! It happens every couple of years when the American blood pressure spikes, the nation grabs it’s communal chest, staggers and stumbles, all red-faced and in cold-sweats. It’s called election season, and by all reports on social media, news accounts, video feeds, journal articles, coffee shop chats and blog posts, it’s the end of America once again! The sun is about to turn black, the moon blood red, stars are on the verge of falling out of the sky to crash into the earth. Into this national apocalyptic and apoplectic ailment steps a new, 176 page hardback, “One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics” that seeks to bring sensibility and solidity. Bruce Riley Ashford, professor of Theology and Culture, provost and dean of faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Chris Pappalardo, lead researcher and writer at The Summit Church, have banded together to present this easy-to-read guide into the hands of Christians from all walks of life. Their aim is “to share a perspective on politics that tempers the expectations of those with inflated hopes, empowers those with deflated hopes, and equips every Christian to apply Christ’s love in the muddied arena of politics” (2). The book unfolds into two sections. The first six chapters work out the biblical, and Christian, backstory of our world and politics, and then move forward to the sane, stable and sound reasons Christians can engage with politics. The authors recognize that there will be tensions in the political arena because of where we are in human and philosophical history; “The gospel story is deeply at odds with modern political narratives because each looks to a different place for history’s true meaning” (32). Therefore, wisely, they remind us that we “should not expect more from politics and public life than can be had in this time between times” because infusing “politics with majestic hopes will only lead to crushing disappointment” (56). This means that as Christians involve themselves in statecraft we exercise a public righteousness and civility where we “hold our convictions, but out of love for our neighbor and concern for our witness, we hold them in a gracious and kind manner” (58). Ashford and Pappalardo rightly see the importance of civility in our public discourse, and describe it as “not spinelessness but self-control; it is the capacity to show love and grace particularly when we disagree with others and even when we dislike them.” And this civility has two sides, civil speech and civil attitude (58-9). The second segment of “One Nation Under God” attempts to address seven hot subjects, and how Christians might persuasively speak to their fellow citizens. The topics include life and death issues, sexuality, economics, the environment, race, immigration and war. The authors workout their thoughts from Scripture and Christian convictions (thick reasoning) and then imagine ways to bridge into the secular square to speak insightfully to those who reject both sources of authority (thin reasoning).Though some readers may find the directions and conclusions more conventional, or less rigid, than they like, nevertheless they will be helped by the mental exercise presented in these chapters. The concluding pages bring in Augustine and his approach in The City of God and how this can be an astute model for Christian participation in the civic arena, because we “Christians should be, without qualification, the heart and strength of every good social effort” (139). “One Nation Under God” is a perceptive and peaceable volume. Throughout the material the authors thoughtfully interact with several thinkers, to include Lesslie Newbigin, N.T. Wright, Martin Luther King Jr., Richard John Neuhaus, Abraham Kuyper, and Richard Mouw; and have crafted a handy, useable resource for Christians as we think sanely about our Nation, elections, and our public responsibilities. The book would be ideal for discussion groups, church leadership, and even Adult Christian Education classes (it doesn’t support or promote any candidate or party). It would also be worth passing a copy along to Christian friends and family. I salute Ashford and Pappalardo for their excellent work. Thanks to B&H Publishing Group for providing, upon my request, the free copy of “One Nation Under God” used for this review. The assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as per Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This is a really good look at how Christians should view politics. They did a good job of basing everything on a Biblical view and drawing from Christian authors and philosophers. They described well how to influence politics without trying to make a theocracy. I didn't agree with everything said, but I think that's okay because there are some areas where I really need to be challenged still. I'd definitely recommend it - especially with elections coming up soon. It's important for Christians to b This is a really good look at how Christians should view politics. They did a good job of basing everything on a Biblical view and drawing from Christian authors and philosophers. They described well how to influence politics without trying to make a theocracy. I didn't agree with everything said, but I think that's okay because there are some areas where I really need to be challenged still. I'd definitely recommend it - especially with elections coming up soon. It's important for Christians to be involved with politics and make their voices heard but only if that's done with love with the purpose of glorifying God.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Davenport

    I am a Christian. I am very interested in politics. At times it seems that these two cant exist. But in fact, as this book points out, it is very important to America's future that these two topics be together. THis book explains the reason for their connection, but leaves me lacking in ways to do it. Perhaps once you read how they are connected then its up to the individual to combine them. The book definitely has an excellent road map for the trip. I am a Christian. I am very interested in politics. At times it seems that these two cant exist. But in fact, as this book points out, it is very important to America's future that these two topics be together. THis book explains the reason for their connection, but leaves me lacking in ways to do it. Perhaps once you read how they are connected then its up to the individual to combine them. The book definitely has an excellent road map for the trip.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clark

  18. 5 out of 5

    Scott Pena

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josh Navey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean Grogan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Meinel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Randy Jackson

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Harmeling

  24. 5 out of 5

    Broxton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Cloud

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brad Smith

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  28. 5 out of 5

    William Slater

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric Trout

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