CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christian Involvement in Politics, Culture and the State: Recommended Reading

Jun 20, 2019

The Christian holds dual citizenship. He has two passports. He is a citizen of this world and of his own country, as well as a citizen of the next world. Thus he lives his life in both places. Yes, there is often tension and conflict between the two, but that is the way it is for the Christian while he awaits the Parousia.

For two thousand years Christians have thought and prayed about how the believer is to live in this world, how he is to relate to his culture, and what his involvement in politics – if any – ought to be. For example, the great Christian thinker Augustine wrote about this in his famous The City of God, penned in the early 5th century.

There would be many thousands of books written on these topics, and I would own many hundreds of them. So the problem here is to pick a small representative handful of volumes that are worth recommending. Obviously a lot of restrictions or limitations are needed.

Thus the following titles on church/state relations, Christian political involvement, the Christian in culture, and so on, will feature these parameters:

-mainly more or less recent titles
-mainly authored by evangelicals
-mainly of a more or less conservative orientation
-mainly encouraging us to get involved and make a difference

Here then are 55 books that can be recommended on these topics:

Anderson, Digby, ed., The Kindness That Kills: The Churches’ Simplistic Response To Complex Social Issues. SPCK, 1984.
Bandow, Doug, Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics. Crossway Books, 1988.
Beckwith, Francis, Politics for Christians. IVP, 2010.
Boice, J. M., Foundations of God’s City: Christians in a Crumbling Culture. IVP, 1996.
Brown, Harold O. J., The Reconstruction of the Republic. Arlington House, 1977.
Cairns, Earle, The Christian in Society. Moody Press, 1960.
Carson, D. A., Christ and Culture Revisited. Eerdmans, 2008.
Carter, Stephen, The Culture of Disbelief. Basic Books, 1993.
Carter, Stephen, God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion In Politics. Basic Books, 2000.
Chaput, Charles, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World. Henry Holt, 2017.
Colson, Charles, Against the Night. Vine Books, 1999, 1989.
Colson, Charles, Kingdoms In Conflict. Zondervan, 1987.
Colson, Charles, Lies That Go Unchallenged in Media and Government. Tyndale, 2005.
Colson, Charles, Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture. Tyndale, 2005.
Colson, Charles and Nancy Pearson, How Now Shall We Live? Tyndale, 1999.
Dreher, Rod, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. Sentinel, 2017.
Eidsmoe, John, God and Caesar: Christian Faith and Political Action. Crossway Books, 1984.
Esolen, Anthony, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. Regnery, 2017.
Evans, Tony, How Should Christians Vote? Moody, 2012.
Forster, Greg, The Contested Public Square. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Forsythe, Clarke, Politics for the Greatest Good. InterVarsity Press, 2009.
Grant, George, The Changing of the Guard. Broadman and Holman, 1995.
Grudem, Wayne, Politics According to the Bible. Zondervan, 2010.
Grudem, Wayne, Voting as a Christian: The Economic and Foreign Policy Issues. Zondervan, 2012.
Grudem, Wayne, Voting as a Christian: The Social Issues. Zondervan, 2012.
Guinness, Os, A Free People’s Suicide. IVP, 2012.
Guinness, Os, The Global Public Square. IVP, 2013.
Guinness, Os, Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization. IVP, 2016.
Guinness, Os, Last Call for Liberty. IVP, 2018.
Guinness, Os, Renaissances. IVP, 2014.
Guinness, Os, ed. Unriddling Our Times: Reflections on the Gathering Cultural Crisis. Baker, 1999.
Gushee, David, ed., Christians and Politics Beyond the Culture Wars. Baker, 2000.
Gyertson, David, ed., Salt and Light: A Christian Response to Current Issues. Word Publishing, 1993.
Hunter, James Davidson, Culture Wars. Basic Books, 1991.
Kennedy, James and Jerry Newcombe, What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994.
Leeman, Jonathan, How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age. Thomas Nelson, 2018.
Monsma, Stephen, Pursuing Justice in a Sinful World. Eerdmans, 1984.
Neuhaus, Richard John, The Naked Public Square. Eerdmans, 1984.
Niebuhr, H. Richard, Christ and Culture. Harper Torchbooks, 1951.
Norman, Edward, Christianity and the World Order. Oxford University Press, 1979.
Parshall, Janet and Craig, The Light in the City. Thomas Nelson, 2000.
Ramm, Bernard, The Right, the Good and the Happy. Word Books, 1971.
Reno, R. R., Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society. Regnery, 2016.
Robb, Edmund and Julia Robb, The Betrayal of the Church: Apostasy and Renewal in the Mainline Denominations. Crossway Books, 1986.
Schaeffer, Francis, A Christian Manifesto. Crossway Books, 1981, 1982.
Schaeffer, Francis, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Fleming H. Revell, 1976.
Schaeffer, Franky, Bad News For Modern Man: An Agenda For Christian Activism. Crossway Books, 1984.
Schaeffer, Franky, A Time For Anger: The Myth of Neutrality. Crossway Books, 1982.
Schall, James V., Christianity and Politics. St. Paul Editions, 1981.
Schlossberg, Herbert, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society. Thomas Nelson, 1983.
Schmidt, Alvin, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization. Zondervan, 2001.
Smith, Gary Scott, ed., God and Politics: Four Views of Reformation and Civil Government. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989.
Stanley, Lynn, Combat Ready: How to Fight the Culture War. Huntington House, 1995.
Stanmeyer, William A., Clear and Present Danger: Church and State in Post-Christian America. Servant Books, 1983.
Sweetman, Brendan, Why Politics Needs Religion. InterVarsity Press, 2006.
VanDrunen, David, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture. Crossway, 2010.
Webber, Robert, The Church in the World. Zondervan, 1986.
Whitehead, John, The Stealing of America. Crossway Books, 1983.

Obviously the great majority of these authors encourage believers to get involved in the culture, in politics, and in society. However, there have always been some evangelicals who have tended to look down on Christian political involvement and have urged us to just ease up on political engagement and the culture wars.

They do this not so much because they are of the Anabaptist persuasion, but because they think the Christian should mainly engage in evangelism and personal salvation. They see this as our primary calling, and basically urge us to butt out of politics. Some of those works would include the five titles:

Christian Political Involvement – The ‘No’ Case
Fisher, John, What on Earth are We Doing? Vine Books, 1996.
Horton, Michael, Beyond Culture Wars. Moody Press, 1994.
Lutzer, Erwin, Why the Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t. Harvest House, 1999.
MacArthur, John, Why Government Can’t Save You. Word, 2000.
Thomas, Cal and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might. Zondervan, 1999.

Suffice it to say that I disagree with these folks. That case I have made in many dozens of articles, such as these:

www.billmuehlenberg.com/1997/10/10/the-case-for-christian-social-involvement/

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/09/08/why-christians-should-be-interestedinvolved-in-politics/

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2006/12/02/is-it-time-for-believers-to-pull-out-of-politics/

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/06/christianity-and-political-involvement/

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/06/christianity-society-and-false-dilemmas/

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/31/changing-hearts-laws-or-cultures/

But see my review of one of those books, and my critique of it: billmuehlenberg.com/2001/11/28/a-review-of-why-government-can%E2%80%99t-save-you-by-john-macarthur/

But for those interested in how Christians might think about our responsibilities in society, our role in government and the state, and how we can effectively be salt and light in our culture, the books listed above are helpful volumes worth looking at. Happy reading.

[1173 words]

8 Responses to Christian Involvement in Politics, Culture and the State: Recommended Reading

  • I go to a large Pentecostal church and you would never know there was a culture war. The pastors never talk about elections and who is running the country for good or bad. They never mention attacks on Christianity in the media or against Christians. When gay marriage was constantly in the news the church never mentioned the topic once except the day before we had to vote and they said we should vote as our heart leads. No information is ever divulged about things like the attacks against Margaret Court or Israel Folau. No offer of assistance or support is ever mentioned.

    It’s quite frustrating, as things are happening in our culture around us everyday, yet not a word of advice or encouragement is offered.

    Whereas Psalm 24.1 says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein”, it would appear a lot of churches believe that the earth is Satan’s and their only mission is to rescue as many as possible before he destroys everything.

  • Many thanks Colin. Hmm, it sounds like it might be time for you to find a new church!

  • Bill: You missed my book Understanding The Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews which addresses the six major worldviews in the following areas: theology, philosophy, ethics, biology, sociology, psychology, law, politics, economics and history. Even Carl Henry told me we had a work worthy of serious study. In fact, this work is used in more Christian High Schools than 98% of all your stated works–which, incidentally I have read and pushed over the years via Summit Ministry.

  • Thanks David. Yes it is a superlative book indeed. One of the best. However, it is not a case of me “missing” it. It is more a case of where best to include it. This article was more specifically about Christian political involvement, while as the subtitle of your book says, yours is “A Survey of Competing Worldviews”. So that is where I have placed it – and more than once. See here for example:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/08/21/recommended-reading-on-the-biblical-worldview/

    And here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/02/13/the-christian-apologetics-arsenal-a-select-bibliography/

    Thanks again.

  • Hi Bill
    My name is Vladimir just recently i ran as candidate for nsw Australia election. Im a Christian and i love my country. I hated to see it go down with the political correctness and lgbt and many other un Australian and unchristian garbage. My parents coming from a communist country knew what it was like and taught us the dangers of this system. I am appalled by the attitude Christians have to the bible and Jesus, and Christian candidates dont get votes from church’s. I remember years ago churches used to tell us to vote wisely, even though I go to a church that supported me.
    Where are all the Christians that should be backing Israel Folau?
    I have a passion for politics and i will continue to fight for righteousness. I will even recruit others to run with me. If others want to join me look for Vladimir Shigrov with Rise Up Australia party.

  • Christian involvement in politics, culture and the state may get more challenging if the Australian financial institutions extend their current ‘de-platforming’ of so-called ‘alt-right’ to committed Christian activists.

    In recent weeks, Dr Jim Saleam of Australia First Party has been barred by Westpac from being a signatory to Westpac accounts as described here:
    https://australiafirstparty.net/bank-bans-party-leader-in-civil-rights-shocker/

    In recent days, Blair Cottrell has had his Westpac bank account closed as described here:
    https://www.theunshackled.net/australian-politics/westpac-closes-blair-cottrells-bank-account/

    Quote from the above link:
    “Cottrell had at the end of last year been banned from PayPal which he had been using to raise funds for his appeal for his conviction under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act for his participation in the mock Islamic beheading by the United Patriots Front in Bendigo in 2015. The appeal trial is set for the County Court in August.
    Since his PayPal ban Cottrell had been asking supporters to direct deposit donations to his appeal to his bank account, so this could have played a part in Westpac’s decision to close his account.
    It is also noteworthy that Bendigo Bank closed the bank account of Julie Hoskins in 2015 who was challenging the approval of the Bendigo mosque and housing development. Hoskin is currently fighting a bankruptcy declaration…”.

    Blair Cottrell’s court appeal referred to above apparently stands a reasonable chance of succeeding due to government overreach as described here:
    https://www.theunshackled.net/rundown/state-ups-its-case-against-blair-cottrell-appeal/

    These recent Australian developments follow on from earlier, though still recent, American developments as described here:
    https://splinternews.com/the-activists-waging-a-war-to-make-the-far-right-go-bro-1829659363

    If this precedent of arbitarily denying financial services on the basis of perceived ‘political incorrectness’ of the ‘alt-right’ is allowed to become established, it will only be a matter of time before the same politically correct ‘woke’ activists will be coming after committed Christians.

    Bill Muehlenberg currently uses Paypal and Westpac as did Blair Cottrell, and being effectively a one person operation, may be more vulnerable to activist targeting.

    Perhaps Bill could arrange drop off times and places for cash donations if all else fails, though it can only be hoped that it will not become necessary.

  • It’s great to have people like Vladimir standing up for Christian values. We need to stand on all fronts, including spiritual, political and practical. While revival is essential and will cure the political eventually, we must also stand for righteousness in society and politics. So well done Vladimir!

    We need to better educate Christians (and the Christian and Conservative Parties) how to be more effective, more conscientious voters by numbering EVERY box above or below the line. RUAP was better than most by recommending ten preferences (of 35 in NSW) Above the Line. But even that is simply NOT good enough. Over 262,000 (5.85+%) of NSW FORMAL votes, that’s nearly 0.4 Quota, ‘exhausted’ – that is, those votes played no part in electing the last TWO nsw Senators, neither of whom received a full quota. The two runners-up Senators in NSW were McCulloch (One Nation, with about 0.7 Quota) and Cooke (Shooters, with about 0.3 Quota). Clearly, numbering every box (rather than letting 0.4 Quota ‘exhaust’) in NSW could easily have resulted in One Nation or Shooters taking the 5th or 6th Senate position in preference to the Greens.

  • Christian Involvement in Politics, Culture and the State
    Israel Folau needs our assistance:

    https://www.gofundme.com/israel-folau-legal-action-fund

Leave a Reply