Saturday, 22 September 2012

Books on the Bible, Christianity and Politics

I recently led a day workshop on developing a biblical worldview on politics. Aside from resources on worldview, below is the list of books (mostly from a UK perspective) I recommended on politics for those who wanted to explore further. 

Jonathan Bartley, Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006).
Part of the publisher’s ‘After Christendom’ series, this book explores what it means that the church no longer occupies the centre of society, providing an opportunity for the church to exercise a prophetic role in challenging injustice and undermining some of the central values on which society is built.

Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics: How to Read the Bible Politically (London: SPCK, 2010).
Useful for its self-conscious reflections on methodology, and in providing worked examples of ‘political exegesis’ of sample passages across Scripture.

Stephen Clark (ed.), Tales of Two Cities: Christianity and Politics (Leicester: IVP, 2005).
A collection of academic essays, offering biblical, theological, and historical reflection on political issues.

Graham Cray, Disciples and Citizens: A Vision for Distinctive Living (Nottingham: IVP, 2007).
Explores how we live as citizens of the kingdom of God and our nation, with a strong call to integrated whole-life discipleship.

Paul Doerksen, Beyond Suspicion: Post-Christendom Protestant Political Theology in John Howard Yoder and Oliver O’Donovan, Paternoster Theological Monographs (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2009).
A full academic treatment and comparison of the political theologies of two major theologians.

Dewi Hughes, Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need (Nottingham: IVP, 2008).
A study of power and poverty against the background of some of the fundamental themes of the Bible as a whole.

James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).
This has had an enormous level of exposure since its publication. It’s essentially three extended essays, building an overall case against misguided attempts on the part of Christians ‘to change the world’, and instead arguing for the significance of ‘faithful presence’ in the world.

Rose Lynas (ed.), Votewise Now!: Helping Christians Engage with the Issues (London: SPCK, 2009).
A collection of short essays seeking to help Christians evaluate party policies and promises wisely. A series of helpful Bible studies relating to the book are available from the Jubilee Centre.

Steve Monsma, Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).
Written from an American perspective, but useful more widely. Seeks to lay out a Christian framework based on Scripture before applying it to areas such as poverty, human rights, disease, war and terrorism.

Oliver O’Donovan, The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Not an easy read, but seen by many as a classic work of political theology. O’Donovan is significant given his commitment to the Bible as Christian Scripture and the possibility of a unified biblical ethic, and the place he gives to theology in formulating an ethics which can find appropriate political expression.

Elizabeth Phillips, Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: T&T Clark International, 2012).
A good way in for those who want to explore political theology in more detail.

Michael Schluter and John Ashcoft (eds.), Jubilee Manifesto: A Framework, Agenda and Strategy for Christian Social Reform (Leicester: IVP, 2005).
An excellent collection of essays flowing out of the work of the Jubilee Centre. It is biblically and theologically based, concerned especially with relationships in families, communities, and society, and explores how a ‘relational’ perspective provides insights on how to approach topics of concern such as the family, welfare, economics, justice, etc.

Nick Spencer and Jonathan Chaplin (eds.), God and Government (London: SPCK, 2009).
A thought-provoking collection of essays from a joint project between Theos, the public theology think tank, and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, showcasing – from different perspectives – the interface between theology and politics. It helpfully explores biblical and theological foundations for Christian political thinking and considers different ideas about the role of government. This is a valuable contribution not only in encouraging Christians to see politics as an honourable vocation, but also in demonstrating something of the wealth of material in Scripture and Christian political thought.

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