It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
New Growth Press (February 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charles D. Drew received his education at Harvard (BA in English) and Westminster Seminary (M. Div.). He has pastored for thirty years in Virginia, Long Island and New York, all in university settings. He presently serves as the senior minister of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, which he founded in 2000 near Columbia University. Drew speaks frequently to universities and churches and is also the author of A Public Faith: Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues, An Ancient Love Song: Finding Christ in the Old Testament and A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World. He and his wife Jean, a science teacher at the Brearly School in Manhattan, have two married children and two grandchildren. Sailing and music are two of Charles' great loves.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
In this updated and revised version of A Public Faith (NavPress 2000), Drew helps Christians to develop practical biblical convictions about critical social and political issues. Carefully distinguishing between moral principle and political strategy, Body Broken equips believers to build their political activism upon a thoughtful and biblical foundation. This balanced approach will provide readers-Democrats, Republicans, or Independents- with a solid biblical foundation for decision making. Drew even helps Christians of all political persuasions to understand how they can practice servanthood, cooperation and integrity in today's public square. With questions at the end of each chapter to help readers explore and apply principles, Body Broken will train believers to actively engage with political issues while standing united as a church.
Genre: Religion/Christian Life/Relationships
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Ch a p t er 1
Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and
thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of
his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His
lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt
like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens
proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. All who worship
images are put to shame, those who boast in idols—worship him, all you gods!
hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your
judgments, Lord. For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are
exalted far above all gods. Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he
guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the
wicked. Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice
in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (Psalm 97)
are bound to disagree over politics, not just in the culture but in the church
as well. I bump into this reality all the time. One such occasion occurred in
early 2009 when I had two very different appointments back to back. The first
was with a leader in my church who wondered why we did not talk more forcefully
about abortion and homosexuality. He wondered why we were more likely to speak
out on trendy New York City issues like justice and mercy than to speak out and
even act on the issues he was concerned about. He wondered why, for example, if
we were prepared to sponsor a march against hunger, we were not also prepared
to sponsor a protest in front of an abortion clinic.
met next with a Christian graduate student at Columbia University. She told me
that she had begun to drift away from Christian community because, as she put
it, “I am beginning to find that the people I agree with theologically are the
people I disagree with so- cially.” The issues for her were, interestingly, the
same as those mentioned in my first appointment—abortion and homosexuality, but
especially the latter. She was in a different place on those issues. She was
not gay herself, but she had a number of close friends who were, and her love
for them made her feel at odds, given her prior church experience, with the
Christian community. She was confused about what the Bible had to say about
committed homosexual partner- ships, and she was struggling over what she would
do if she became convinced that the Lord forbade them.
talked about many things—about the false choice the culture often presents (one
either must completely accept the gay lifestyle or one must admit to
homophobia), about the tendency in the evangelical world to elevate certain
sins over others (homosexual sin over heterosexual sin; or sexual sins over
other types of sin, like greed or gossip), about the fact that there are
different legitimate strategies for nudging our culture in the direction of
sexual health (California ballot initiatives being only one of them), about the
difference between struggling with sin and embracing sin, and about the difference
between homosexual inclination and homosexual behavior.
came away from the second appointment thankful and perplexed (more later on my
perplexity). I was thankful that this young person had felt comfortable talking
to me, for I am “the church” by virtue of my role as a pastor. I could not help
but think that she approached me because our church did not, in its public
face, fit the stereotype that she had begun to react to. We were committed, as
she discovered, to a traditional view of marriage (heterosexual, monogamous,
lifelong unions), but we were also keen to keep our “front door” open, so that
people like her and her friends would feel comfortable coming in for serious
and honest discussion.
in My Own Mind
are bound to disagree, not only over issues, but over which issues to “go
public” on. Committed Christians, sometimes in the same church, sometimes in
the leadership of the same church, can easily find themselves at odds with one
another on these sorts of issues.
tensions arise not only between us but within us. I mentioned that I came away
from the second appointment perplexed. The graduate student’s struggles reminded
me of how confused people are, especially young people, even church-raised
young people like her, about God’s way of wisdom when it comes to sexual matters.
I found myself asking if our church’s relative public silence on the issue was
in fact the best policy. Certainly it helped keep our front door more widely
open than it might otherwise be. It certainly gave rise to an important and
nuanced discussion with one particular person that might otherwise not have
happened. But what about all the others out there? What about those in my own
church who might need a lot more guidance than they realize?
Change, but Disagreement Continues
I write, everyone is talking about the economy—but not everyone in my church
agrees on what is to be done. Some believe that the government bailouts are
necessary and good; some see them as a fiscal disaster and an inexcusable wink
of the eye at gross moral failure.
in the 1980s the range of issues was broader, but Christians still found plenty
to disagree about. Some members of my congregation rejoiced at the swing to the
right. They saw the Republican triumphs in 1980 and 1984 as harbingers of
moral, fiscal, and educational renewal. Others were less sanguine, pointing with dismay to the new guard’s
positions on, for example, gun control and the environment as huge moral blind spots. (If they had been
able to see ahead into the new century, they might have been equally appalled
at the financial chaos brought upon the world by the new guard’s advocacy of
the unregulated pursuit of wealth.) Some saw the fall of the Soviet Union as
the vindication of free market capitalism and of policies aimed at its
unfettered growth. Others joined Czech Republic President Václav Havel in his
fear that the lifting of Soviet control would only invite new expressions of
violence, not simply in the former Soviet bloc, but even at home:
unnatural bipolar system imposed upon the world, which concealed or directly
suppressed historical differences, has collapsed. And these differences are now
manifesting themselves with sudden and nearly explosive force, not just in the
post-Communist world but also in the West and many other areas of the globe. I
fully agree with those who see in this reality the seeds of one of the most
serious threats to humanity in the coming era.
today might argue that the “triumph” of capitalism, and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor that has accompanied it, has been one of the
sources of the rise of terrorism in the first decade of the new century.
Our Differences: Don’t Panic
do we navigate all these differences? Surely it is by looking to the Scriptures
for perspective and guidance. I have found Psalm97 to be very helpful in this
regard. It calls our hearts back to their proper center and for that reason
serves as a manifesto on “first principles” for Christian citizenship. The
first of these first principles is that Christians need never panic, since our
God rules everything: “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant
shores rejoice” (Psalm 97:1)
that “reigns” is a political word. It describes a king exer- cising dominion
over his subjects, the ancient equivalent (roughly) of saying, “President so-and-so sits in the Oval Office.” Of course
verse 1 says much more. We elect American presidents for a brief time. Their
“reign” is neither permanent, nor absolute, nor flawless, nor worldwide,
whereas God’s is all four. His rule causes the “earth” to be “glad” and the
“distant shores” to “rejoice” (emphasis added). Verse 9 declares his absolute
sovereignty over all authorities, whether seen or unseen: “For you, Lord, are
the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” What an
encouragement! What a source of confidence and joy for the believer! God is in
who bemoan the moral and social
disintegration of American culture are
often right. But when they speak to us in such a way as to stir up fear and
panic in our hearts, they are wrong. Our God reigns, and therefore we need
not—we must not—be afraid as we exercise our civic responsibilities, no matter
what seems to be going on around us.
the damage panic can bring. First of all, panic impairs judgment. If we give in
to the voice that cries “Act now, or our great country will be forever lost!”
we will find ourselves demanding easy and quick solutions to our nation’s
problems, when in fact there are no such solutions. Christians, more than any
others, should know that no candidate, no platform, no party has all the
answers. But fear makes it easy to forget this.
breeds impatience not only with political process but also with people. It
easily leads to browbeating and to polarization even in the church, the very
place where God expects us to model the one community that will outlast all
others. How quickly and tragically we accuse and demonize one another when we
are afraid. Our hearts break over the killing of millions of unborn children,
but are we really right to label every pro-choicer an advocate for murder and
every woman who submits to abortion an accomplice in murder? What of the young
woman who has been persuaded that the child within is not yet a child? (Note:
God distinguishes in Scripture between premeditated killing of a person and
accidental killing, a distinction which we find in our own law’s distinction
between murder and manslaughter.
is, of course, premeditated, but for some people that act is not morally murder
since they have been led to believe that what is aborted is not a person.) What
of the person who votes pro-choice because she cannot see how the legal battle
against abortion will succeed rather than because she is pro-abortion? Because
panic cries “Do something right now, before it is too late!” it dehumanizes us
in our dealings with each other. For me to understand my neighbor’s motives and
reasoning takes time, the very thing panic cannot stand.
can be used to justify falsehood. Some people, fearful of a religious takeover,
have lifted Jefferson’s “wall of separation” idea out of its historical context
and used it, dishonestly, to justify the silencing of the religious voice in
every public place and discussion. (The language, which nowhere appears in the
Constitution, was used by Thomas
Jefferson in an 1802 letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, to
justify federal disengagement in
religion while tacitly approving state
engagement.) Promoters of creationist
literature, fearful of the impact of the teaching of evolution upon their
children, have sought to sneak their material into a Pennsylvania public school
by doctoring the terminology of their manual without substantially altering its
content. Still others, fearful of the secularization of schools, have promoted
“stealth candidates” with a hidden agenda (say, school prayer). Such subterfuge
usually backfires, causing the opposition to retrench even further. Worse, when
employed by believers, it dishonors the God they claim to serve by using
ungodly means (lying) to advance an allegedly godly end.
displeases God. Fear is a matter of the heart, and our reigning King cares
deeply and especially about our hearts, since it is from them that everything else
issues (see Matthew 12:33–37; Mark 7:20–23). God cares about why we do
something at least as much as he cares about what we do. Psalm 97 reminds us
that, deep down, the fundamental tone of our lives must be joyful confidence in
God’s sovereign reign, not fear: “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let
the distant shores rejoice. . . . Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.” (Psalm 97:1, 12, emphasis added). When I choose
political and social action because I am afraid, even if I can justify that
action from Scripture, I am denying God at a deep level. I am acting from
unbelief. I am taking his majestic name in vain.
next time you find yourself driven by fear, or you hear a mes- sage that urges
you to act out of fear, consider Jesus. Our Lord saw the desperate evils of
life far more clearly than we ever will, and yet he never panicked. In The
Waiting Father Helmut Thielicke wrote:
tremendous pressures there must have been within him to drive him to hectic,
nervous, explosive activity! He sees . . . as no one else ever sees, with an
infinite and awful nearness, the agony of the dying man, the prisoner’s
torment, the anguish of the wounded conscience, injustice, terror, dread, and
beastli- ness. He sees and hears and feels all this with the heart of a Savior
. . . Must this not fill every waking hour and rob him of sleep at night? Must
he not begin immediately to set the fire burning, to win people, to work out
strategic plans . . . to work . . . furiously . . . before the night comes when
no man can work? That’s what we would imagine the earthly life of the Son of
God to be like, if we were to think of him in human terms. . . . But how
utterly different was the actual life of Jesus! Though the burden of the whole
world lay heavy on his shoulders . . . he has time to stop and talk to the
individual . . . By being obedient in his little corner of the highly
provincial precincts of Nazareth and Bethlehem he allows himself to be fitted
into a great mosaic whose master is God . . . And that . . . is why peace and
not unrest goes out from him. For God’s faithfulness already spans the world
like a rainbow: he does not need to build it; he needs only to walk beneath it.
God’s Glory above Narrow Political Goals
97 calls us to exalt a Sovereign whose reigning glory knows no national bounds.
And this gives us our second “first principle”: our political activism must
always serve God’s glory worldwide. In other words, model Christian Americans,
like their counterparts in Brazil or Korea or wherever, set their hearts first
and always on the promotion of God’s interests.
97 makes this priority vivid. Verse 1 does not read, The Lord reigns; let
Israel (or America) be glad! Nor does it read, The Lord reigns; let my family
be glad! These groups must surely join the chorus, but the choir in view is far
grander: “Let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice” (emphasis
added). Verses 6 and 7 convey the same idea: “The heavens proclaim his
righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. All who worship images are put to
shame, those who boast in idols—worship him, all you gods!” (that is, all the different groups of people
throughout the world [emphasis added]).
the classic film Chariots of Fire
Olympic runner Eric Lid- dell courageously models this priority. When the
Prince of Wales and a number of other powerful
figures press him to overturn his conscience-bound decision not to run
on the Lord’s Day, he politely refuses. A singularly obnoxious figure accuses him of arrogant dis
saying, “In my day it was ‘country first, then God.’ ” Liddell fires back, “It
is you who are arrogant! God made kings. God knows I love my country, but I
cannot for the sake of that country do what God forbids.”
glory, God’s victory, the revealing and acknowledgement worldwide of who he is,
what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do—this great purpose
drives history. Each nation’s saga belongs to this larger one. The history of
the United States, so full of God’s blessing and goodness, is not for that
reason a special history unto itself. It belongs, together with the histories
of Peru, Iraq, China, and Senegal, to his story.
is a remarkable moment on the eve of the conquest of Jericho. Joshua meets a
looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his
hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then
Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message
have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:13–14)
is neither “for us” nor is he “for our enemies.” God is for himself—his own
purposes and his own glory. What a moment this was for Joshua. He suddenly
realized that he was in the presence of an army far greater than his own.
Perhaps even more important he realized that to be the commander of Israel at
the gates of Jericho did not automatically put him in the ranks of that army,
and he fell to the ground. If this humbling reality was true for Joshua in the
days of the theocracy (when God’s rule was located in the action of one
particular human kingdom) how much more true must it be for us who have no
special claim to be God’s people simply because we are Americans or belong to a
particular political party or are the advocates of a particular plan for making
our country a better place. My strong suspicion is that, if we could see what
Joshua saw, a great deal of the self-righteous certainty that lies behind our
political anger would dissipate, and along with it the anger itself.
and the Kingdom of God
can draw at least one implication from this great principle. Many of us have
legitimate longings for our country. But our deepest longing must not be that
America will be happy or prosperous or safe. Think about foreign policy. Our
deepest longing as we think about U.S. activity in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot
simply be that America will be protected from terrorism. It must be that our
policy there will advance in those countries, if only in small ways, the sorts
of things that please and honor Christ—things like justice, mercy, and
evangelism. One of the tragedies of modern times is that far too many Muslim people hate
Christianity because they equate it with
American militarism. Or think about the American economy. Our deepest longing
must not be (as so many hoped in early 2009) that the economic crisis would
pass quickly, that people would star spending again, that foreclosures would
drop off and employment would rise, and that the “bad guys” (whoever they were—there was, of course, some
disagreement about that) would be brought to justice.
must keep reminding ourselves that a safe and rich America is not necessarily
identical with the triumph of God’s agenda. Scripture teaches after all that
God is glorified not only in his mercies, but also in his judgments. In Romans
1:18–32 Paul describes the social and moral disintegration of an ancient
culture—a disintegration disturbingly parallel to what we observe in our own
country today—from sexual chaos to greed-driven economic collapse. Paul says
that this tragedy did not happen by chance, but was the work of God aimed at
making known his holy anger: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven
against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by
their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). Like Jeremiah and many of the prophets, the
Christian must be prepared to say with tears, “Lord, if you choose to glorify
yourself in the failure of our thankless and decadent society (and I hope you
do not), then so be it. Honor your name!” Our first love must be God’s will and
honor, come what may.
must embrace this difficult truth or we will blind ourselves to things about
our country, past and present, Republican and Democrat, that have not pleased
God. We must love our country, but we must have lover’s quarrels with it
(starting with ourselves), for our citizenship is in heaven.
a world without the United States. An unsettling thought, as unwelcome and as
unlikely as the end of their empire would have sounded to Roman citizens at the
time of Augustus Caesar. But history and Scripture teach us that nations come
and go, and there is no guarantee that America will exist forever. Our duration
and stability are in fact anomalies in the saga of human civilization. All
human governments will one day fail, and for that reason the Christian sets his
deepest hope on the glory of God’s reign, not the survival of his country.
come now to a third “first principle” for civic life drawn from Psalm 97:
Christians must hate evil. Abundant evidence for this principle occurs in the
psalm: “Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are
the foundation of his throne. . . Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he
guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the
wicked” (Psalm 97:2, 10, emphasis added).
and thick darkness” surround God’s throne because he is morally unapproachable. That is, he is absolutely holy and we are
not. When we read that his throne rests on “righteousness and justice” we learn
that every act of his sovereign rule arises from a character and policy that
are good and fair. Because of who he is, God will neither act unrighteously nor
tolerate anything unrighteous throughout his dominion.
will consider hating evil more fully in Chapter 9 in our dis- cussion of
integrity. At present notice two things about it. First, we are to hate evil,
not people—not even evil people (like those “fiends” across the aisle in
Congress!). It is the easiest thing in the world to demonize the opposition—to
make an abortion activist or a pro-gun lobbyist the incarnation of all that we hate
about what they advo- cate. We must not do this.
is the second thing to note. The mandate to hate evil is for us a double-edged
sword. On the one hand it comforts us immeasurably to know that the God who
reigns over everything is good. We can know that all that is right and true and
lovely will one day be fully vindicated. On the other hand, this truth reminds
us that God is on our side only insofar as we are on his (remember Joshua’s
encounter with the angel): “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous” (Psalm
97:12, emphasis added).
among us can be 100 percent sure, in anything, that God is fully on our side?
Even in our most “Christian” moments, we as a nation never enjoyed the special
relationship to God that ancient Israel enjoyed. (People have different
opinions on how Christian we were once, though it is fair to say that there was
a time when a Protestant Christian ethos dominated the culture.) Israel was a
theocracy, the kingdom of God located in a human kingdom—something we have never
been, despite the rhetoric of some. For this reason we must be wary of the sort
of thinking that lifts an event or law out of ancient Israel’s civic life and
tries to insert it wholesale into the contemporary scene as “God’s will for America.” A sad example
of this was the tendency of some in colonial times to identify the killing of
American Indians with the conquest of Canaan.
even if we were a theocracy, we would still need to be extremely cautious about
identifying what is “of America” with what is “of God.” After all, for all its
privileged status, not even Israel survived the righteous judgment of God when
they turned from him. Patient and forgiving for many years, he nevertheless
chastened his people, even to the point of exile. If Israel, who enjoyed “most
favored nation” status, was punished for sin, can we expect an exemption?
is a great mistake to think that all the good guys and all the best ideas can
be found in one party, usually one’s own. If we hate evil we will watch for it
close to home. And we will resist it close to home—in the ideas and strategies
of our closest friends and allies (those whose errors we are most apt to
overlook). We will never find ourselves buying into everything our party or
activist group stands for. And for this reason we will always be a little bit
lonely, a little bit out of sync with our fellows. This may be hard, but it
will keep us humble—and that is always a good thing.
social issues would you rather not talk about at church, or with Christian
friends, or with any friend? Why?
a time when you or a friend made a political choice out of panic. Why did you
panic? What did you do and what were the results? Why is panic in politics
unwise? Why does it displease God?
97 teaches that God’s glory worldwide is the main theme of history. Romans 1
reminds us that God is glorified in judgment just as he is in mercy. Where do
you see God’s mercy at work in American society? Where do you see his judgment?
Talk to God about what you see.
final stanza of Katherine L. Bates’ famous song, America, reads in part:
“America! America! God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.” Scrutinize the political
party or activist group that you feel the greatest affinity to. Where does it
need mending? What can you do to contribute to that mending? How might your
efforts make you lonely?
Q&A with Charles Drew regarding Body Broken
Why did you write Body Broken?
To help Christians stay united without ignoring their social and political responsibility. Neither may Christians withdraw from social and political engagement (Jesus is the Lord of everything, including political life) nor may they permit politics to divide them from each other (Ephesians 2 tells us that Christ had ‘broken down the dividing wall of hostility between them”). Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to worship together in the same church
What is new about this new revised edition?
There are two changes. First, it is updated with reference to developments since 2000—the economic crisis, the election of Barack Obama, etc. Second, the book is more sharply focused on the necessity and possibility of Christian harmony in the midst of Christian social and political engagement. The first book was a bit more generic, focusing on Christian political responsibility in general. The second asks, “How can Christians ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4) while also being politically and socially engaged.
Why not make peace in the church by withdrawing from all political discussion and involvement?
I can think of two reasons. First, Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” We are his hands, voice, and feet, called to make him tangible in this world. We cannot be these things if we withdraw from political and social life. Second, we misrepresent Jesus if we withdraw from public life. Jesus is much more than “my personal savior.” He is “Lord of lords”—who has been given authority over all things—over every institution, every way of thinking, and every relationship. He is not about to withdraw from the world he died to renew. Neither can Christians.
Why is it so important for the church to be united despite its political differences?
Because Jesus wants us to.
He prays for it in John 17 and, according to Ephesians 2, he died to unite Jews and Gentiles (the most deeply hostile social groups in the ancient world), creating in them “one new man. ” If, therefore, Christians cannot find a way to live together in harmony (even when they disagree politically), they deny the power both of Jesus’ prayers and his cross. The credibility of the Christian story is at stake. Observation: One of the reasons some churches do not blow up is that they have already divided along political lines (evangelical black churches tend to fill up with Democrats, evangelical white churches tend to fill up with Republicans)
Why do people disagree so heatedly on political issues?
Sometimes there is something deep and legitimate at stake (say, slavery in the 19th century). But more times than not the chief reason is idolatry: We have come to depend too much on someone or something other than God. That someone or something is often threatened by people who oppose us politically—and so we get angry.
Some examples of idols
Our vision for America (We desperately need America to “look” a certain way) Our strategy for realizing that vision [The ‘right’ candidate; the ‘right’ platform; the ‘right’ legislation…] Our ability to fix things by our plan. Our need to win and to stay on top. Often a strong principled beginning degenerates into this. (the most common idol is myself!) Our right to privacy—which can show up on the Left (sex life) as well as the Right (taxes).
How do Christians reduce political heat while staying involved?
There is a lot to say here. Much of the book is dedicated to it. Here are some answers.
a) Recognize and repent of political idolatry
b) Make prayer our most significant political strategy
•Prayer tends to calm the heart—steering us away from the fear that often drives us to demonize the opposition and to use underhanded means
•Prayer tends to humble us, so that we are less apt to have to “win” at all costs.
•Prayer for the opposition also tends to increase love for the opposition.
•Prayer is something anybody can do—however disenfranchised.—thus reducing the angry frustration that arises when we feel marginalized.
c) Be more realistic about the change that power politics can bring.
•We sometimes find ourselves hating the candidates we once loved—because our former enthusiasm was unrealistic. (Consider the swing toward the right in 2010 following the enthusiastic endorsement in 2008 of a democratic administration)
Do you have any other thoughts on how to reduce political heat in the church?
a) Trust God for results: Our ‘job’ is to be faithful. God’s ‘job’ is to change the world.
b) Recognize that character is more important than political success.
•To follow Jesus in God-honoring service to people—even those whose politics we despise—is something anyone can do and it gives those of us with limited power (and that is most of us) an alternative to lashing out in anger and frustration.
•Jesus does not call us to “win”. He calls us, whatever else we do, to follow him in godly self-denial:
c) Don’t let yourself get stuck in the “power politics rut”—thinking that forcing change through
politics is the only (or even the best) way to bring about change.
•Remember that the sword that Jesus wields when he appears to John in Revelation 1 comes out of his mouth—not from his arm. He rules by persuasion, not by force.
•Trying to force change can often be frustrating (it often produces back-lash that makes things even worse)]. It also tends to increase polarization and anger—making the whole political climate (not to mention one’s heart) unhealthy—a far cry from “love your neighbor as yourself”.
What are some of the ways to bring change that do not depend on power politics?
Talking up change in non-politicized settings (say, in church forums in non-election years, or one on one over coffee) Living an exemplary public life Using the arts for change Doing what you can—even if it seems small—trusting God (rather than your plan) for the results Looking for common ground together with the “opposition”
There are lots of non-political ways to be pro-life, for example.
Should we legislate morality?
Everybody legislates morality: laws are the instrument we use to enforce or promote what we value—and values are an expression of morality. The important and interesting question is a different one: “Which morality should be legislated and why?”
Which morals should we seek to enforce by law?
Sorting this question out is difficult and we need to be patient with each other as we seek to do so. Some of the following distinctions can be helpful:
•The distinction between theocracy and influence.
•The distinction between moral principle and political strategy
•The distinction between the calling of the church and the callings of individual Christians.
What do you do when you deeply disagree with a fellow Christian about politics?
•Think biblically about what is going on, about what is at stake: •The disagreement is a chance for you to grow in love and faith.
•Jesus is praying for unity in the church Jesus died to make you one with this person.
•Your relationship with this person will outlast the end of every political strategy and disagreement.
•Pray for yourself and this fellow Christian
•Talk honestly and openly, looking for common ground in hopes that you can do something together
•Sit together in the same pew.
Should there be an American flag displayed in a church sanctuary? If so, where?
This is a good question—it makes us think hard about the relative importance of our allegiance to Jesus Christ and our allegiance to America. We should be patient with each other as we try to sort it out.
•Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’—which suggests that we obey Jesus by honoring our country. Displaying an American flag in a worship space in the United States might for this reason make sense.
•Jesus also says, “Give to God’s what is God’s”—which demands that our allegiance to our country must never be absolute. Displaying an American flag in such a way as to suggest that God and America speak with one voice would for this reason be problematic.
Should the church support foreign wars, encouraging its members to fight in them?
This is another good question aimed at pressing us to sort out our dual allegiance to God and to our country. Once again we need to be patient with one another as we try to sort it out, guarding each other’s consciences in areas where the Bible is not explicit.
•Some (pacifists) will say, “Never. For the state to ask me to use force against another human being is for the state to step beyond its proper limits. Jesus says to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5).
•Others (positivists) will say, “Of course. The state is put in place by God and we obey God, therefore, by exercising loyalty to the state, even if it means putting ourselves in harms way” (see Romans 13)
•Still others (normativists) will say, “It depends on the war (is it a just war—a necessity brought about by a great evil that must be resisted) and upon what particular deeds I am asked to perform (What happens if my commander orders me to shoot or maltreat prisoners of war?).
Author Bio: Charles D. Drew received his education at Harvard (BA in English) and Westminster Seminary(M. Div.). Hehas pastored for thirty years in Virginia, Long Island and New York, all in university settings. He presently serves as the senior minister of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, which he founded in 2000 near Columbia University. Drew speaks frequently to universities and churches and is also the author of A Public Faith: Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues, An Ancient Love Song: Finding Christ in the Old Testament and A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World.He and his wife Jean, a science teacher at the Brearly School in Manhattan, have two married children and two grandchildren. Sailing and music are two of Charles’ great loves.
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Charles Drew and his publisher for sending me a copy of "Body Broken" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.
Charles D. Drew’s “Body Broken: Can Republicans and Democrats Sit in the Same Pew” is a fascinating book that offers much food for thought regarding a Christians participation in politics and activism. I have known many people who are rather vocal and passionate about their political views, so I would not recommend this book for a small group read.
Each chapter ends with several “Making It Personal” questions for personal reflection. I found these questions to be thought-provoking and potentially life-changing. Whether you use them on your own to personally reflect on your own views or you use them to promote discussion with others, these questions are wonderful catalysts for contemplation.
I was particularly intrigued by The Williamsburg Charter included in the appendices. Having lived in that area of Virginia for several years, the mention of the place not only brought back pleasant memories of my family’s exploration of the area but also got me thinking about the humble beginnings of our great nation as I read it. There was also a list of core Christian values and another list of principles and practices of Christian citizenship in the reference material. However, I do not completely agree with how these offerings are worded. “The governments of this world are established by God as necessary evils to limit the potential reign of evil.” Romans 13:1-7 is cited as the support for this claim, but the Scripture doesn’t call government a “necessary evil”. Other citizenship statements are made that have no scriptural support at all and none of the core values cites a Scripture reference. As a Christian book, I believe all of Christian citizenship principles and core values should be based on the Scriptures.