In The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times Charles Mathewes aims to supply a primer of politics and the public square to help Christians in these dark times find hope in public life. He asks such questions as How should our Christian convictions lead us to see the world differently than those who do not share them? What are the categories that believers should use to act on the challenges of the world?
Mathewes uses theological virtues best loved by Augustine - faith, hope, and love - to provide an analogical mirror for Christian citizenship in a post-9/11 American world. He examines not how religion has shaped our politics but rather how politics has shaped and mis-shaped our religious life and how we can begin to correct that shape.
The Republic of Grace will help reignite and inform a fierce commitment to the common good of our society, caring concern for the least and most vulnerable, and the use of each person's gifts, power, and wealth as a force for good and justice in the world. In short, this book will enable readers to realize the sacramental possibilities of political life.
Jean Bethke Elshtain
-University of Chicago
"Writing with a strong sense of urgency, Charles Mathewes engages St. Augustine as he takes the measure of our 'dark times.' We need not despair, he tells us. Instead, we must recover the language and possibility of hope, a virtue we are in danger of losing. . . . A gracefully written, engaging work, The Republic of Grace demonstrates why Mathewes has become one of his generation's most important interpreters of Augustine."
-Southern Methodist University
"Mathewes reminds us that faith, hope, and love give shape to politics as well as personal life. His Augustinian reflections for dark times serve the same purpose as the great theologian's sermons and writings. He gives us confidence in the direction of history, without making us too sure of our own place in it. He urges us to take responsibility for the actions of our nation, without forgetting the judgment of God. These are perennial themes, but Mathewes gives them fresh relevance for the post9/11 world."
David P. Gushee
"Charles Mathewes has rapidly developed respect in the scholarly guild for his first-rate scholarship offering a renewal of Augustinian public theology for our time. The Republic of Grace marks Mathewes's turn toward the communication of this rich tradition to a broader audience. . . . A major contribution to Christian political (and ecclesial) theology."
"We do live in dark times, and Charles Mathewes is right to think that sustaining hope under such circumstances is one of the central challenges of our politics. He is also right to insist that the Christian churches have a crucial role to play in meeting that challenge and that they cannot do so faithfully without taking the heritage of St. Augustine seriously. Mathewes is one of the keenest interpreters of that heritage in his generation.
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