Christians and the Common Good: How Faith Intersects with Public Life  -     By: Charles E. Gutenson
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Christians and the Common Good: How Faith Intersects with Public Life

Brazos Press / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

The relationship between faith and politics is hotly debated. How can Christians actively engage in public life without being caught up in political polarization? Focusing on God's nature, Gutenson suggests that we should move past presuppositions regarding the government's role and ask instead how to develop public policies that serve the community and the common good. Foreword by Jim Wallis.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1587432870
ISBN-13: 9781587432873
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Christians across the spectrum have soured on religious involvement in politics, tempted either to withdraw or to secularize their public engagement. Yet the kingdom of God is clearly concerned with justice and communal well-being. How can Christians be active in public life without getting mired down in political polarization and controversy? For too long, the question of faith in public life has centered on what the Bible says about government. Charles Gutenson, a theologian respected by both evangelical and mainline Christians, argues that we should first ask how God intends for us to live together before considering the public policies and institutions that would best empower living together in that way. By concentrating on the nature of God, we can move past presuppositions regarding the role of government and engage in healthy discussions about how best to serve the common good. This lucidly written book includes a foreword by bestselling author Jim Wallis.

Author Bio

Charles E. Gutenson (PhD, Southern Methodist University) is the chief operating officer of Sojourners in Washington, DC. He formerly served as associate professor of philosophical theology at Asbury Theological Seminary and has worked as a pastor and a corporate executive. He is the author of Considering the Doctrine of God and coauthor, with Jim Wallis, of Living God's Politics.

Publisher's Weekly

Gutenson, the CEO of Sojourners, the Christian anti-poverty group, has written a treatise designed to help persuade evangelicals to heed the Bible's emphasis on social justice. Gutenson, who previously taught at Asbury Theological Seminary, brings conservative credentials to bear. He makes valid points about how some Christians take Scripture out of context or draw misleading connections between select biblical passages and modern-day controversies such as abortion or homosexuality. But his insistence that one can rightly discern God's intentions relies on the same hermeneutical method used by his opponents–those who discern God's intentions in individual salvation rather than social action. Moreover, his support for government safety nets such as Social Security, Medicare, and living wage laws sound like Democratic Party bumper stickers. Evangelicals searching for a social action platform may appreciate the book, provided they are willing to wade through turgid academic prose. (Mar.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    requires serious thought while reading
    July 8, 2011
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
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    Meets Expectations: 4
    What does it mean to apply the Bible to our community life? How should a Christian be "political"?

    Gutenson came to the point where he saw disconnects between his life of faith and what it seemed Scripture taught that life should look like. He came to understand that "the extent to which our basic failure to see the relationship between Christian faith and political engagement was at the root of many of these disconnects." (5)

    He proceeds to investigate the implication of Christian faith and its intersection with political life. He reveals the abuse of Scripture to further political agendas. He suggests a method for discerning God's intentions and develops guidelines for reading Scripture in a way that avoids common errors. This is not an easy process.

    We are to be "imitators of God." Gutenson explores God's nature and the implications for our lives, developing eight guidelines. He reviews Scriptures and gives a summary of how God expects us to live together. He then looks at the sorts of policies and institutions that would encourage that way of life. He looks at living in a pluralistic culture, respecting the separation of church and state yet seeking to have government serve a kingdom agenda, and the problems that arise from putting too much trust in the political process.

    Gutenson has written this book to begin discussion. His goal is to open dialogue.

    This is not an easy book to read. It requires serious thought as one reads through the book. I could see it used as a resource by one planning to initiate a discussion on the subject. The book would function best, I think, when the people reading it are also involved in discussing the issues.
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