A provocative account of recent evangelical Christian engagement with conservative politics written by a professor from Hillsdale College.
From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and teh Betrayal of American Conservatism provides a fresh, lively, iconoclastic history of evangelical Christians' involvement with American politics. Examining key evangelical political figures - from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to Billy Graham and Chuck Colson to Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis - D. G. Hart argues that American evangelicalism, from the right as much as the left, is (and always has been) a bad fit with classic political conservatism and its insistence on the limited role of government.
Whenever evangelicals have pushed for government solutions to moral or social problems or for crusading military and foreign policy ventures abroad, Hart argues, their religious and moral idealism has trumped the sober realism of classic conservatism and a careful understanding of the virtues of the American political system. Further, Hart predicts that, with such a tenuous relationship to the core principles of conservatism, evangelicals on the right are unlikely to remain politically conservative unless they finally accept--really accept--the limited uses of politics to effect lasting social change.
Readers of From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin are sure to find Hart's treatment and sobriety timely and compelling.
Modern evangelicalism, because of its many parts and persuasions, has been said to resemble a mosaic or even a kaleidoscope. In this timely book D. G. Hart gives a thorough overview of this mosaic, looking closely at contemporary evangelicals' political engagement in recent history. While much of evangelicalism has been seen as politically conservative, Hart makes an intriguing case that it has been so in an insufficient fashion. Evangelicals need to become more Augustinian in their theology, he argues, and begin attending as much to the Federalist Papers as they do to the Scriptures.
This book offers an important challenge to evangelical leaders, pastors, and activists alike: focus on the 'permanent things,' remember your pilgrim citizenship, and never forget that the ultimate purposes of history are not determined by politics. This is not to diminish appropriate political concerns but to only put them in proper perspective. Buy a copy of this book for your pastor and also give one to your favorite Christian political activist. By doing so you will raise the level of theological, and political, conversation in the church.
Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Maximally enlightening political-religious argumentation.
This volume's title is misleading, since it says little about either Billy Graham or Sarah Palin. Instead it is a kind of literary history of prominent evangelical Christians' thinking about political conservatism. A church historian, Hart examines the writings of such figures as Carl McIntire, Jerry Falwell, Marvin Olasky, Chuck Colson, and Ron Sider, among others. He shows how their moral idealism is at odds with the realism, prudence, and preference for stasis that has characterized political conservatism. At a time when many view the relationship between evangelicals and the Republican Party as unquestionably tight, Hart suggests born-again Christians may actually have more in common with the aspirations of progress, change, and social improvement championed by the left. And he sagely hints that younger evangelical leaders may be rethinking the conservative impulse and veering closer to the center left, if not to the Democratic Party. This book might have benefited from a historical overview of conservatism in its early chapters and from a more accurate title, but its insights are acute and on target. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.
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