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America’s two greatest strengths—her liberal democratic culture and her free-market economy—have made her a global superpower. But left unchecked, these two strengths can become great cultural weaknesses, sowing selfishness, recklessness, and apathy. In Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society, theologian R. R. Reno argues that America needs a renewal of Christian ideals—ideals that encourage self-sacrifice, responsibility, and solidarity. Drawing on T.S. Eliot’s 1940 essay “The Idea of a Christian Society,” Reno shows how Christianity encourages “an abiding ambition for higher things” and a “moral vision” that can strengthen communities and transform America into a truly great nation.
For more than a millennium, beginning in the early Middle Ages, most Western Christians lived in societies that sought to be comprehensively Christian--ecclesiastically, economically, legally, and politically. That is to say, most Western Christians lived in Christendom. But in a gradual process beginning a few hundred years ago, Christendom weakened and finally crumbled. Today, most Christians in the world live in pluralistic political communities. And Christians themselves have very different opinions about what to make of the demise of Christendom and how to understand their status and responsibilities in a post-Christendom world. Politics After Christendom argues that Scripture leaves Christians well-equipped for living in a world such as this. Scripture gives no indication that Christians should strive to establish some version of Christendom. Instead, it prepares them to live in societies that are indifferent or hostile to Christianity, societies in which believers must live faithful lives as sojourners and exiles. Politics After Christendom explains what Scripture teaches about political community and about Christians' responsibilities within their own communities. As it pursues this task, Politics After Christendom makes use of several important theological ideas that Christian thinkers have developed over the centuries. These ideas include Augustine's Two-Cities concept, the Reformation Two-Kingdoms category, natural law, and a theology of the biblical covenants. Politics After Christendom brings these ideas together in a distinctive way to present a model for Christian political engagement. In doing so, it interacts with many important thinkers, including older theologians (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin), recent secular political theorists (e.g., Rawls, Hayek, and Dworkin), contemporary political-theologians (e.g., Hauerwas, O'Donovan, and Wolterstorff), and contemporary Christian cultural commentators (e.g., MacIntyre, Hunter, and Dreher). Part 1 presents a political theology through a careful study of the biblical story, giving special attention to the covenants God has established with his creation and how these covenants inform a proper view of political community. Part 1 argues that civil governments are legitimate but penultimate, and common but not neutral. It concludes that Christians should understand themselves as sojourners and exiles in their political communities. They ought to pursue justice, peace, and excellence in these communities, but remember that these communities are temporary and thus not confuse them with the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians' ultimate citizenship is in this new-creation kingdom. Part 2 reflects on how the political theology developed in Part 1 provides Christians with a framework for thinking about perennial issues of political and legal theory. Part 2 does not set out a detailed public policy or promote a particular political ideology. Rather, it suggests how Christians might think about important social issues in a wise and theologically sound way, so that they might be better equipped to respond well to the specific controversies they face today. These issues include race, religious liberty, family, economics, justice, rights, authority, and civil resistance. After considering these matters, Part 2 concludes by reflecting on the classical liberal and conservative traditions, as well as recent challenges to them by nationalist and progressivist movements.
One of the twentieth century’s great thinkers and writers explores what it means to incorporate Christian values into our worldly lives. Originally delivered in 1939 at Corpus Christi College, these three lectures by the renowned poet and playwright T. S. Eliot address the direction of religious thought toward criticism of political and economic systems. With sincerity and intellectual rigor, the Nobel Prize winner asks whether—and how—it is possible for Christianity to coexist with Western democracy and capitalism.
One of our most prized writers takes a poignant look at the powerful influences of religion and culture in the Western world in these two penetrating essays. The first, The Idea of a Christian Society, examines the undeniable link between religion, politics, and economy, suggesting that a real Christian society requires a direct criticism of political and economic systems. And in Notes towards the Definition of Culture, Eliot sets out to discover the true definition of “culture,” a word whose misuse and ambiguity presents a danger to the legacy of the Western world. Intellectually, Eliot was years ahead of his time, and these essays are an invaluable tool for analyzing and understanding the nature of society today.
There’s lots of bad religion out there. But the answer isn’t no religion, it’s true religion: living out—publicly and communally—what we say we believe privately and individually. True religion puts flesh on the bones of faith. Resurrecting Religion offers an inspiring, stretching vision for finding our way back to the good news of our faith. At a time when most people practice their faith in the extremes—either extremely publicly, with a legalistic, combative tone that creates division, or extremely privately, to the point that our faith becomes functionally irrelevant—award-winning author Greg Paul offers a vision for religion that is good for us and good for the world.
American evangelicalism has long walked hand in hand with modern consumer capitalism. Timothy Gloege shows us why, through an engaging story about God and big business at the Moody Bible Institute. Founded in Chicago by shoe-salesman-turned-revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1889, the institute became a center of fundamentalism under the guidance of the innovative promoter and president of Quaker Oats, Henry Crowell. Gloege explores the framework for understanding humanity shared by these business and evangelical leaders, whose perspectives clearly differed from those underlying modern scientific theories. At the core of their "corporate evangelical" framework was a modern individualism understood primarily in terms of economic relations. Conservative evangelicalism and modern business grew symbiotically, transforming the ways that Americans worshipped, worked, and consumed. Gilded Age evangelicals initially understood themselves primarily as new "Christian workers--employees of God guided by their divine contract, the Bible. But when these ideas were put to revolutionary ends by Populists, corporate evangelicals reimagined themselves as savvy religious consumers and reformulated their beliefs. Their consumer-oriented "orthodoxy" displaced traditional creeds and undermined denominational authority, forever altering the American religious landscape. Guaranteed pure of both liberal theology and Populist excesses, this was a new form of old-time religion not simply compatible with modern consumer capitalism but uniquely dependent on it.
Short. Timely. Poignant. Pointed. Burying White Privilege is all of these and more. This is the book that everybody who cares about contemporary American Christianity will want to read. Many people wonder how white Christians could not only support Donald Trump for president but also rush to defend an accused child molester running for the US Senate. In a 2017 essay that went viral, Miguel A. De La Torre boldly proclaimed the death of Christianity at the hands of white evangelical nationalists. He continues sounding the death knell in this book. De La Torre argues that centuries of oppression and greed have effectively ruined evangelical Christianity in the United States. Believers and clerical leaders have killed it, choosing profits over prophets. The silence concerning—if not the doctrinal justification of—racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia has made white Christianity satanic. Prophetically calling Christian nationalists to repentance, De La Torre rescues the biblical Christ from the distorted Christ of white Christian imagination.
The earliest of the four Gospels, the book portrays Jesus as an enigmatic figure, struggling with enemies, his inner and external demons, and with his devoted but disconcerted disciples. Unlike other gospels, his parables are obscure, to be explained secretly to his followers. With an introduction by Nick Cave