The University Bookman asked me to review D.G. Hart’s book on how evangelicals have subverted conservative politics. While I appreciate his strength of mind and his craft, I disagree with his thesis that striving for something like a biblical politics is a non-starter. Here’s a clip:
As a professor at a Christian college, I must cede to Hart and his argument in this excellent and provocative book that many of us do live and work inside a movement aimed at extending the lordship of Jesus Christ to politics and every other endeavor of human life. Certainly, I can understand how many Christian political ideas and efforts add up to a “betrayal” of conservatism as Hart sees it. But the call to evangelicals to give up this task of developing a Christian politics and attempting to bring it into being through persuasion, office-seeking, and other work is unlikely to succeed.
The first major barrier is the immense effort (specifically of the last quarter century) that has gone into encouraging Christians to “think Christianly” about every area of their lives, including politics. The second barrier is the related lack of desire that evangelicals have to return to something like the early Falwellian position that the church has no business encouraging activism with regard to matters of domestic (such as race) or international policy (such as the Cold War). That form of church-state separation looks in the rear-view mirror very much like the pitiable refuge of those who were more concerned about intra-congregation conflict than with calling for righteous action.
While Hart likely does not intend to frame exactly this message, in some ways the very civil and erudite complaint against overly ambitious Christian politics comes across as a call for Christians to subordinate their faith (or at least a prominent interpretation thereof) to conservatism. He seems to be encouraging a political secularism of the right at exactly the time when Christians have been working vigorously to do away with it as an excuse for not bringing ideas from the church into the public square.
You can read the whole thing here.