Church, State, and Citizen: Christian Approaches to Political Engagement

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Christians are often portrayed as sharing the same political opinions and the same theological foundations for their actions. Yet, from the time of the early church, believers have held a variety of perspectives on the relationship between church and state and what constitutes legitimate political behavior for Christian citizens. Thoroughly Christian political beliefs run the gamut from disavowal of any political responsibility to a complete endorsement of government policies and the belief that the state has been divinely appointed.

In Church, State, and Citizen, Sandra F. Joireman has gathered political scientists to examine the relationship between religion and politics as seen from within seven Christian traditions: Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Anglican, Evangelical and Pentecostal. In each chapter the historical and theological foundations of the tradition are described along with the beliefs regarding the appropriate role of the state and citizen. While all Christian traditions share certain beliefs about faith (e.g., human sin, salvation, Christ's atonement) and political life (e.g. limited government, human rights, the incompleteness and partiality of all political action) there are also profound differences. The authors discuss the contemporary implications of these beliefs both in the United States and in other areas of the world where Christianity is showing increasing vigor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This very timely volume will be a great resource for those interested in the relationship between Christianity and questions of civic responsibility, power, and governance. The sophisticated treatment of a range of historical and contemporary Christian traditions is particularly vital today, when a Christian approach to politics is too often reduced to a single issue or a bumper-sticker slogan. The various essays, each written by a scholar who identifies with the tradition under study, are informative, nuanced, and critically engaging."—Darren Walhof, Associate Professor of Political Science, Grand Valley State University

"A concise, engaging volume...Highly recommended."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195378450
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/4/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra F. Joireman is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College (IL). She is the author two books and numerous articles on property rights and legal development.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Sandra F. Joireman
2. The Catholic Tradition and the State: Natural, Necessary, and Nettlesome, Robert B. Shelledy
3. Lutheranism and Politics: Martin Luther as a Modernizer, but for the Devil, Timothy J. Lomperis
4. Reformed...and Always Reforming?, James W. Skillen
5. Anabaptist and the State: An Uneasy Coexistence, Sandra F. Joireman
6. The Anglican Tradition: Building the State, Critiquing the State, Leah Seppanen Anderson
7. For the Sake of Conscience: Some Evangelical Views of the State, Timothy Samuel Shah
8. Pentecostalism: Holy Spirit Empowerment and Politics, Stephen M. Swindle
9. Concluding Reflections, Mark R. Amstutz

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