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-by John c. Green
The How, What, and Why of Christian Politics
By Ralph Reed
311 pp.; $25
Second Coming: The New Christian Right in Virginia Politics
By Mark J. Rozell and Clyde Wilcox
John Hopkins University Press
285 pp.; $32.95
A Practical View of Christianity
By William Wilberforce
Edited by Kevin C. Belmonte
288 pp.; $16.95
Who Speaks for God? The New Spiritual Politics Beyond the Religious Right
By Jim Wallis
How Right Is the Right? A Balanced and Biblical Approach to Politics
By Randall L. Frame and Alan Tharpe
206 pp.; $10.99, paper
Why the Left Is Not Right: The Religious Left: Who They Are and What They Believe
By Ronald H. Nash
222 pp.; $10.99, paper
What you most fear tells a lot about you. Is it AIDS or Alzheimer's? A mugging or an IRS audit? For many journalists, the answer would be, None of the above. What haunts them is the specter of Christians in politics: rank after rank of the born-again, marching in lockstep to the orders of Pat Robertson or some other theocratic poohbah.
Indeed, it is a terrifying thought. But as anyone who has served on a church committee can attest, there's no need to worry. American evangelicals have a gift for disagreement. From theology to manners to culture, they have a long history of disputation among themselves, and this penchant for debate is especially evident when the subject is politics. Several recent books by evangelicals from across the ideological spectrum confirm that no consensus is in sight. For readers who want to reflect on Christian involvement in politics, there is no better place to start than these books before us.
Taken together, the books highlight three important topics crucial to understanding the proper role of Christianity in democracy: practice, priority, and position. Practice is the realm of personal conduct in the political process. Should Christians be held to a higher standard as they participate in the rough and tumble of politics? Priority denotes the political agenda: Are there topics to which Christians ...