Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics

Overview

Abortion. Homosexuality. Environmentalism. Evolution. Conservative positions on these topics are the current boundaries of mainstream Evangelical Christianity. But what if the theological arguments given by popular leaders on these “big four” were not quite as clear cut as they claim?

     Growing up as an evangelical Christian, Jonathan Dudley was taught that faith was defined by the total rejection of abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and environmentalism. But once he had begun studying ...

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Broken Words: The Misfortunes of Science and Scripture in Evangelical Politics

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Overview

Abortion. Homosexuality. Environmentalism. Evolution. Conservative positions on these topics are the current boundaries of mainstream Evangelical Christianity. But what if the theological arguments given by popular leaders on these “big four” were not quite as clear cut as they claim?

     Growing up as an evangelical Christian, Jonathan Dudley was taught that faith was defined by the total rejection of abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and environmentalism. But once he had begun studying biology and ethics, his views began to change and he soon realized that what he had been told about the Bible – and those four big issues – may have been misconstrued. Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics assesses the scientific and cultural factors leading evangelicals to certain stances on each issue, shows where they went wrong, and critically challenges the scriptural, ethical, and biological arguments issued by those leaders today.
     In Broken Words, Dudley applies the Bible and biology to challenge the fixed political dogmas of the religious right. Evangelicals are confronted for the first time from within their ranks on the extent to which faith has been corrupted by conservative politics, cultural prejudice and naive anti-intellectualism. A re-ordering of American Christianity is underway – and this book is an essential part of the conversation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jonathan Dudley brings theological sophistication, scientific savvy and historical sensitivity to this astute analysis of four central issues in today's culture wars. Broken Words is essential reading for anyone who aspires to reclaim evangelicalism from the Religious Right." –Randall Balmer, Columbia University Professor of American Religious History and Author of Thy Kingdom Come

"Hands down, Broken Words is the most insightful, clear-eyed, and popularly useful overview to date of why and how Evangelicalism has come to be such a powerful and intractable political and doctrinal bloc in American affairs over the last half century. Written in vivid, conversational style, Words also carries within itself the gentleness of affection and familial courtesy, for Dudley was himself reared evangelical. There is no meanness of spirit here, no clanging of swords. There is simply an urgent demand that we look now and accurately at how politics has led many among us to reversals of our historic faith and practice and, ultimately, to divisive and destructive civil policies and prejudices." –Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why
 
"Jonathan Dudley has rendered a great service with this brilliant book. By taking on the use by social conservatives of both science and scripture to push their agenda with regards to abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and environmentalism, Dudley exposes the inconsistencies and contradictions in their claims as well as their methods of interpretation and arguing. The remarkable aspect of Dudley's book is its astonishing juxtaposition of scientific and religious knowledge and sensibilities. Dudley is equally educated in theology, biblical studies, and biological sciences. The combination is unusual and notable. The writing accessible and elegant." –Dale B. Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385525268
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

JONATHAN DUDLEY has a BS in biology from Calvin College, an MA in religion from Yale University's Divinity School, and he is working toward an MD at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
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Table of Contents

1 The Bible, Biology, and Boundaries 11

2 Pro-Life Proselytizing: Abortion, Stem Cells, and the Moment of Conception 25

3 Queer Quagmires: Evolution, Higher Criticism, and Homosexuality 66

4 Environmental Experiences: Global Warming, Stewardship, and Traditional Christian Antienvironmentalism 91

5 Evolving Evangelicals: Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Keeping an Open Mind 111

Epilogue: Neo-Neo-Evangelicalism 148

Acknowledgments 153

Notes 155

Index 195

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    One of my new favorite books

    Jonathan Dudley, a graduate from Calvin College, Yale Divinity School and currently a med student at John Hopkins, analyzes four hot-button issues in American evangelical culture: abortion, homosexuality, environmentalism and evolution. He carefully analyzes arguments from the evangelical right, without bitterness or malice, and presents the need to reform "traditional" views on these issues. He discusses the VERY diverse historical interpretation of biblical scripture (quoting many Christian intellectuals throughout history [including saints!] who share very different views from contemporary fundamentalist evangelicals) and how these issues are based more on cultural values rather than biblical. His educational background is the perfect example of how science and religion can not only coexist, but compliment each other. Read this book if you are interested in science, religion, American evangelism, Christian history, evolution, abortion, homosexuality, environmentalism, pretty much anything...it's just an excellent book.

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Honest, Insightful, Unbiased and Engaging...

    Description:

    Science. Faith. Politics. Three universal concepts with a compendium of diverse denominational meanings - but that does not mean that viewpoints within these topics do not overlap. Why do some Christians believe abortion, homosexuality and evolution are against God's commandments and teachings, while others are taught to accept these practices and ideas? Why does there have to be a right or wrong? Author Jonathan Dudley exposes and explains the misinterpretations and misuses of these concepts throughout history, and in today's ever-changing world.

    Review:

    Broken Words is an in-depth, insightful, honest and equal-sided look into abortion, homosexuality, environmentalism and evolution throughout evangelical/Christian history. Given my educational and religious background, I was very interested to hear someone else's thoughts on these matters, especially since most books on the subject seem so "one-sided". I was surprised to learn that the author was so young, yet so mature and experienced in his writing and convictions. His to-the-point analysis of the bible and evangelical history were engaging and unbiased. I have often wondered why the meanings of certain passages in the Bible were so skewed, and his well researched explanations helped me to gain a better understanding. I consider myself a Christian - nondenominational - and Jonathan Dudley's arguments against the religious taboos of abortion, homosexuality, and evolution closely resemble my own. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered why science, faith and politics are so defiant in their attempts of agreement. I am excited by the prospect of another book by this author, and wish him much luck with his MD at JHU-SM!

    Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

    *** I received this book from the author (Crown Publishers) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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