Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics  -     By: Robert Benne
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Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2010 / Paperback

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Product Description

"There is nothing greater than indignation to stimulate a writer to write," says Robert Benne, "and my outrage has been stirred mightily by reading so many wrongheaded 'takes' on how religion and politics ought to be related."

Benne's anger has compelled him to write Good and Bad Ways to Think About Politics and Religion, a clear argument for a more reasonable approach to the inevitable relationship between religion and politics. Secularists may call for a complete separation of church and state; left- and right-wing Christians alike may zealously (though often unintentionally) fuse them together - but neither approach really works.

Benne's alternative - "critical engagement" - encourages church bodies and individual believers to step beyond the confusion and noisy rhetoric. He offers practical help in identifying core Christian convictions, deciding which of these can and should influence public policy, and translating those convictions into political action.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 120
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0802863647
ISBN-13: 9780802863645

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Publisher's Description

In this book, Benne describes and analyzes the wrong ways to relate religion and politics and offers a better way.

Benne calls the two main bad ways of relating religion and politics “separationism” and “fusionism.” Secular separationists decry all involvement of religion in politics; religious separationists, on the other hand, advocate abstaining from politics in the name of religious purity. Fusionism comes in many types, but the type that most concerns Benne is the use of religion—in this case Christianity—for political ends, which turns religion into an instrument for purposes other than its own main reason for being. Rejecting these bad ways of relating religion and politics, Benne offers a better way that he calls critical engagement which derives from the Lutheran tradition, with a few tweaks to adapt the tradition to deal well with the new challenges of our present situation.

As Benne points out, “The question is not so much whether American religion will have political effects. It most definitely will. The more serious questions are: Should it? How should it?” In this book, Benne offers a clear and useful guide to a subject too often characterized by confusion and loud rhetoric.

Author Bio

Robert Benne is Director of the Roanoke College Center forReligion and Society and Jordan-Trexler Professor ofReligion Emeritus at Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia. Hisbooks include Reasonable Ethics: A Christian Approachto Social, Economic, and Political Concerns andQuality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges andUniversities Keep Faith with Their ReligiousTraditions. For more information on Benne, visit Roanoke.edu.

Endorsements

James Nuechterlein
— Senior Editor at Large, First Things
"Robert Benne's thoughtful take on the right relation between religion and politics is both theologically perceptive and politically shrewd. Our politics would be better if those active in the public square followed his wise and balanced prescriptions."

Max L. Stackhouse
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"Drawing on the classic traditions of both Protestantism and Catholicism, Benne artfully states contemporary theological options and outlines the practical implications for both believers and practicing policy-makers on the most controversial issues. Excellent for clergy and politically interested laity alike."

Robert Tuttle
— George Washington University
"Bob Benne's engaging and provocative analysis of religion and politics deserves close attention by those on both sides of the debates that currently roil our polity and churches."

Editorial Reviews

“Robert Benne’s thoughtful take on the right relation between religion and politics is both theologically perceptive and politically shrewd. Our politics would be better if those active in the public square followed his wise and balanced prescriptions.”
— James Nuechterlein
Senior Editor at Large, First Things

“Drawing on the classic traditions of both Protestantism and Catholicism, Benne artfully states contemporary theological options and outlines the practical implications for both believers and practicing policy-makers on the most controversial issues. Excellent for clergy and politically interested laity alike.”
— Max L. Stackhouse
Princeton Theological Seminary

“Bob Benne’s engaging and provocative analysis of religion and politics deserves close attention by those on both sides of the debates that currently roil our polity and churches.”
— Robert Tuttle
George Washington University

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