Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity  -     By: Charles Marsh
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Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity

Oxford University Press / 2008 / Paperback

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Product Description

In recent years, American evangelicals have had more political clout than at any time in their history. But according to Marsh, access and influence have cost them dearly in terms of their witness and integrity. Contrasting the values of the Republican Party with those of historic Christianity, he calls for a renewal of essential affirmations. 256 pages, softcover from Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 019537603X
ISBN-13: 9780195376036
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

In Wayward Christian Soldiers, leading evangelical theologian Charles Marsh offers a powerful indictment of the political activism of evangelical Christian leaders and churches in the United States. With emphasis on repentance and renewal, this important work advises Christians how to understand past mistakes and to avoid making them in the future.

Over the past several years, Marsh observes, American evangelicals have achieved more political power than at any time in their history. But access and influence have come at a cost to their witness in the world and the integrity of their message. The author offers a sobering contrast between the contemporary evangelical elite, which forms the core of the Republican Party, and the historic Christian tradition of respect for the mystery of God and appreciation for human fallibility. The author shows that the most prominent voices in American evangelicalism have arrogantly redefined Christianity on the basis of partisan politics rather than scripture and tradition. The role of politics in distorting the Christian message can be seen most dramatically in the invasion of Iraq, he argues: Some 87% of American evangelicals supported going to war, while every single evangelical church outside the United States opposed it. The Jesus who storms into Baghdad behind the wheel of a Humvee, Marsh points out, is not the Jesus of the Gospel. Indeed, not since the nazification of the German church under Hitler has the political misuse of Christianity led to such catastrophic global consequences.

Is there an alternative? This book proposes that the renewal of American churches requires a season of concentrated attention to faith's essential affirmations--a time of hospitality, peacemaking, and contemplative prayer. Offering an authentic Christian alternative to the narcissistic piety of popular evangelicalism, Wayward Christian Soldiers represents a unique entry into the increasingly pivotal debate over the role of faith in American politics.

"With Wayward Christian Soldiers, Charles Marsh again shows that he is one of the most astute observers of evangelicalism today."
--Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics

Author Bio


Charles Marsh is Professor of Religion and Director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. His books include Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Last Days, God's Long Summer, which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and most recently, The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, he has written for The New York Times, Books and Culture, Modern Theology, and numerous other publications.

Editorial Reviews


"A thoughtful, well-written jeremiad that ultimately calls us to a season of reflection and repentance, so that we can rededicate ourselves to being the "peculiar people" of Christ."--Sojourners Magazine


"With Wayward Christian Soldiers, Charles Marsh again shows that he is one of the most astute observers of evangelicalism today. This is a passionate critique of how evangelical faith in America has been compromised by the political captivity of the gospel. His case study of evangelical support for the war in Iraq in the face of almost universal opposition from the transnational church is one of the best I've seen. And his call for the church to refocus on the basics of faith - repentance, prayer, and peacemaking - is a very welcome one. This is a book that will help us move past partisan religious politics to recover the Good News of Jesus." --Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics and president of Sojourners/Call to Renewal


"'Wayward Christian Soldiers' is not only a provocative and stimulating call for change, it's a learning experience. Marsh is expert at providing the context needed to fully appreciate the ideas he is expressing, and this is especially important considering what's happening in the Christian world now."--Charleston Post and Courier


"This is a well-thought-out treatise about the danger of letting a desire to fit in get in the way of righteous-ness."--The Hartford Courant


"With the passion of a believer and the reason of a scholar, Charles Marsh has produced a brilliant manifesto for reclaiming Christianity from the Christian right. He is that most effective of critics, an 'inside agitator,' relentless in cataloguing the trespasses of his co-religionists against the 'truth' they profess." --Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution


"Wayward Christian Soldiers is a brave, unsettling tract for the times. From the heart of the evangelical world comes a prophet in the tradition of Barth and Bonhoeffer to confront his fellow Christians with the bracing Word of God. Charles Marsh directs his prophetic critique at his fellow evangelical Christians who have compromised their own convictions for the sake of political influence. But his words challenge all Christians to return to the fiery center of their faith in a God who challenges every political agenda and who calls Christians back to their most ancient tasks as people of peace and reconciliation." --The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, Dean of Washington National Cathedral


"Provoking and confessing, making fascinating historical and global connections, Wayward Christian Soldiers is essential reading for American evangelicals and anyone concerned about faith and politics. Marsh is a public theologian for our time." --Mark R. Gornik, author of To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City and Dean of City Seminary in New York


"Resisting despair, Marsh hopes that his book might inspire some of his fellow believers to repent of their recent ways -- to 'take stock of the whole colossal wreck of the evangelical witness' and then try to rebuild a more authentic Christianity in its place." --The New Republic


"Marsh calls for repentance, patient waiting for grace, and a period of serious reflection in American Evangelicalism. He exemplifies a growing strand in the Evangelical weave." --Times Literary Supplement Online


"Marsh's elegant proposal develops and updates his January 2006 New York Times editorial of the same title. A Harvard Divinity School graduate, professor of religion at the University of Virginia, and committed evangelical, Marsh, in his fifth book, writes with authority and passion. He cites the Old and New Testaments as well as theologians and saints, and he is an astute observer of American political and religious culture." --ForeWord


"Marsh enters the religion-and-politics fray in this provocative, and even prophetic, manifesto...[his] lively prose makes a brisk read. His gauntlet-throwing will anger some readers, and inspire others."--PW's Religion BookLine


"'Wayward Christian Soldiers' is not only a provocative and stimulating call for change, it's a learning experience. Marsh is expert at providing the context needed to fully appreciate the ideas he is expressing, and this is especially important considering what's happening in the Christian world now."--Charleston Post and Courier


"A strong, effective style conveys his charge that evangelical support for Bush uncritically identified American nationalism and the Iraq war with Christian truth." --Journal of Religion


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