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A Political Theology of ‘Power to the People’

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Democracy is a useful way to organize our politics. Should it organize other areas of life as well?

It’s no secret that the last number of years have been rather dispiriting, socially and politically, for Christians of almost all stripes in the United States. For social conservatives, the constitutional affirmation of gay marriage and the attendant shift in Americans’ views on sex and sexuality more generally showed just how much their political strategies of the last 40 years have failed, leading some of them to throw their lot in with someone of rather questionable personal and political pedigree, Donald Trump. For progressives, Trump’s election in 2016 heralded a potential reversal in what they had hoped for on all manner of issues of “social justice.” For all believers, the seeming secularization, especially of younger Americans, heralds a future within which Christians will again need to think deeply about the nature and purpose of politics and their relation to the American democratic order.

For several decades now, one of the more interesting voices trying to help Christians (in the US and elsewhere) think about these sorts of issues has been the British scholar Luke Bretherton, now a professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School. Bretherton has written extensively about the interrelationship of Christianity and democracy with an eye toward encouraging Christians to embrace democracy as a comprehensive social ethos, not just as a pretty decent means of organizing politics. His latest book, Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy, pulls together a number of previously published articles and threads them together with some new writing in an attempt to help us map out how living in the midst of our pluralist, conflict-ridden, and often frustrating …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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