In the wake of the Wheaton Theology Conference, I’ve been giving some thought to the church’s relation to politics. IVP has several very interesting new books out along this line.
I just received my copy of Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not, edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica. I wish I had it a few weeks back as I wrote my conference paper that touched on anti-imperial rhetoric in Paul, but I was pleased to see that my conclusions largely resonated with theirs.
The volume helpfully describes and evaluates the method whereby interpreters discern a critique of Rome or of the worship of the emperor in various NT documents. It’s got a wonderful lineup of authors and I’m eager to get into it.
Kenneth J. Collins, in Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism, narrates how evangelicals have lost sight of the richness of their identity and their shared heritage by accommodating culturally to a fractured political landscape. The dynamics of political and organizational power have tragically infected and affected evangelicalism, and it looks like Collins’ analysis gets right to the heart of this.
Tyler Wigg-Stevenson’s The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good speaks wisdom into the evangelical activist movement.
It provides sober analysis of how over-eager and well-intentioned efforts can often be counter-productive and lead to burnout. This is indeed a serious problem that I’ve seen first-hand. For those wanting to see real changes take place as the result of Christian activism, it’s a must-read. It’s aimed at focusing efforts rather than discouraging gospel-driven initiatives.
Finally, on a somewhat related and very important issue, a volume that addresses the very thorny problem of “holy war” in the Bible, edited by Heath Thomas, Jeremy Evans and Paul Copan.
It’s called Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem. From biblical, theological, philosophical, and ethical angles, it addresses the challenge to Christian witness of an apparently genocidal God who calls his people to warfare and slaughter. It’s certainly worth checking out (not least for the essay on divine warfare in Paul!) as this troubling aspect of Scripture provides fuel for new atheist challenges to Christian faith.