Sunday, July 10, 2011

Christians and the Common Good by Charles Gutenson

What does it mean to apply the Bible to our community life? How should a Christian be “political”?
Gutenson came to the point where he saw disconnects between his life of faith and what it seemed Scripture taught that life should look like. He came to understand that “the extent to which our basic failure to see the relationship between Christian faith and political engagement was at the root of many of these disconnects.” (5)
He proceeds to investigate the implication of Christian faith and its intersection with political life. He reveals the abuse of Scripture to further political agendas. He suggests a method for discerning God's intentions and develops guidelines for reading Scripture in a way that avoids common errors. This is not an easy process.
We are to be “imitators of God.” Gutenson explores God's nature and the implications for our lives, developing eight guidelines. He reviews Scriptures and gives a summary of how God expects us to live together. He then looks at the sorts of policies and institutions that would encourage that way of life. He looks at living in a pluralistic culture, respecting the separation of church and state yet seeking to have government serve a kingdom agenda, and the problems that arise from putting too much trust in the political process.

Gutenson has written this book to begin discussion. His goal is to open dialogue.

This is not an easy book to read. It requires serious thought as one reads through the book. I could see it used as a resource by one planning to initiate a discussion on the subject. The book would function best, I think, when the people reading it are also involved in discussing the issues.

Brazos Press, 171 pages.

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