How Would Jesus Vote? New Book Looks at Evangelical Faith and Politics

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    (Photo: The Christian Post/Scott Liu)
By Luiza Oleszczuk, Christian Post Reporter
October 7, 2011|1:00 pm

Two evangelical Christians, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, roll out their ideas on how the Bible applies to culture and politics in a new book, titled Left, Right & Christ.

Can a Democrat be a Christian? Should the government care for the sick? Do legalized abortions increase the number of abortions? These are just some of the issues Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes undertake in this new book from Russell Media.

Harper, director of Mobilizing at Sojourners, and Innes, associate professor of Politics at The King's College, offer mostly different responses, but do agree that these are the type of conversations Christians should be having if they are not already.

Their conversation, stemming from different world views, opens a field for Christians to discuss political issues and their relevance to Scripture openly.

Left, Right & Christ also gives a good idea of how one Christian denomination can contain people with vastly differing views on the world and politics. To compare those views, and to present them to the public in their full range is important, according to Harper and Innes.

Often times, a book like Left, Right & Christ, which involves two authors presenting their respective arguments, gives readers the opportunity to consider the arguments on both sides, Harper told The Christian Post.

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Harper's and Innes' differing views often stem from different ways of interpreting Scripture.

"I hope my argument [in the book] is compelling," Innes told CP. "Obviously more biblically faithful [than Harper's]. Lisa tries to be biblically faithful. I think her hermeneutic is off. But we have a conversation that will help people take the Bible more seriously; take its application more seriously, and not be afraid to talk to one another about the fundamental political issues. Explore why are they different."

"[Innes] approached Scripture very theoretically," Harper told CP separately.

He looks at the Scripture, interprets it, and then applies it, she added. But Harper often does the opposite, she said. She takes questions from life to Scripture. If she then manages to find a story in the Bible that corresponds to the issue in question, she will draw conclusions from the text.

But the authors seem to agree on at least one issue – that it is important, especially in public life, not only to profess your religion, but to put their faith into practice.

"I think how [religion] is being used in politics is really the question," Harper said. "It's not enough for candidates or legislators to profess faith. What really matters is the policies that they propose and push."

Most importantly, she added, it is important that the policies they push are actually about the values that their religion supports.

"Professing faith is very easy to do, and that's really using religion; that's using religion for other means and to gain political points," Harper said. "We're in very confused times, and very polarized times. So it would be easy for evangelicals to put down their Bibles, and pick up ideologies; their party's politics. But I think that's lazy, and I also think that's not faithful."

She added that Left, Right & Christ was written in order to give evangelicals an opportunity to wrestle with important contemporary questions together with the authors.

"We may not know how Jesus would vote, but Harper and Innes help us solidify what we actually believe and where we are in terms of our faith and politics," the book's press release adds.

Both authors gave a short lecture in New York on Thursday, followed by a book signing and a panel discussion featuring prominent Christian speakers Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Both Wallis and Land were happy to chime in on the conversation since they are also both evangelicals, yet have differing political views. Land supports small government and little regulation. Wallis was a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama. His work focuses on social justice. They join the idea enclosed in the title, with the Left (Wallis) and the Right (Land) trying to find common ground on the issue of Bible and politics. Or to at least clearly state their arguments.

 

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