I mentioned previously that our faculty and staff meet regularly for a time of reflection, Bible study, and prayer, and that this year we are reading Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft by Francis Beckwith. This week we are discussing Chapter 1: The Study of Politics.
My travel schedule will keep me from participating this week, but I just read the chapter. It is an overview of politics, and it covers the subfields of political theory, comparative politics, American politics, international relations, political economy, and public law.
My favorite part of the chapter was actually the opening story in which the reader is asked to imagine sitting in church while the pastor uses the sermon to get members to vote on a particular issue in a specific way. I was raised in a way that would not appreciate that use of the pulpit; from my upbringing, it would rub me the wrong way and I would feel it would ultimately detract from the more central and abiding message of the gospel.
As some readers know,I attend a large, multiethnic church where it has been interesting to watch the pastoral staff navigate political issues as they arise from time to time. More than multiethnic, our church focuses on being a transethnic community in which ethnic/cultural differences are recognized and celebrated but also transcended in order to foster a Kingdom identity.
I was also struck by the intro in which the author raises the issue of using proof texts to support political approaches one is already committed to, as when conservatives find the free market in the Bible, while liberals find social services (welfare, etc.).
In any case, given that this is an overview chapter, this was a good way to hook the reader into seeing the relevance of politics for the Christian.