Sunday, April 02, 2006

Evangelicals in the Public Square

J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of my favorite writers. Therefore I was delighted today to learn of his forthcoming book (due out in June from Baker Academic), entitled Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action.

Publisher Description:

While history shows that evangelical political engagement in America has been consistent, its impact has been checkered. This new work offers a brief history of evangelical political thought over the past fifty years and assesses recent evangelical forays into politics.

J. Budziszewski examines the theological, political, and ethical reflections of four key figures--Carl F. H. Henry, Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and John Howard Yoder--to whom today's evangelical political perspectives can be traced. While appreciative of the contributions of each of these thinkers, Budziszewski feels each failed to develop a systematic political theory as compelling as those offered by the secularist establishment. He then offers his recommendations for the evangelical political movement, arguing that, in addition to Scripture, the evangelical political movement should be informed by the tradition of natural law.

Summary chapters from four expert respondents follow: David L. Weeks (Azusa Pacific University) responds on Henry, John Bolt (Calvin Seminary) comments on Kuyper, William Edgar (Westminster Seminary) responds to the Schaeffer section, and Ashley Woodiwiss (Wheaton College) offers remarks on the Yoder portion. The book includes an introduction by Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an afterword by Jean Bethke Elshtain, who summarizes the dialogue and offers her own keen observations.


"Evangelical Christians have long been faced with a paradox. The dynamism of their faith moves them irrepressibly in the direction of its public expression, as is evident in evangelicalism's long history of reform activism. But their faith has generally been formulated in ways that fail to supply a clear and consistent framework for the sustained engagement of public issues. Hence the energetic but also piecemeal and ad hoc quality of much evangelical political activity. This valuable book, a critical but constructive look at four of the theorists upon whom American evangelicals have relied in the past, begins to sketch out paths that might lead evangelicals past the paradox. As such, it will be required reading."--Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"A clearly argued, provocative, and important contribution to a growing, increasingly sophisticated, evangelical reflection on political philosophy."--Ronald J. Sider, professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy, Palmer Seminary

"Contrary to public opinion, evangelical political thought is not a monolithic reality. Evangelicals in the Public Square provides clear evidence of this fact, as it guides us through the strengths and challenges of some of the movement's most influential thinkers. Though some readers will not buy Budziszewski's natural law perspective, they will be enriched by the lucid and insightful dialogue of this important work."--Dennis Hollinger, president and professor of Christian ethics, Evangelical School of Theology