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Christians and the Common Good: How Faith Intersects with Public Life
Brazos Press / 2011 / Paperback
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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.
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.
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 opponentsthose 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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