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Future of Faith in American Politics, The: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center Paperback – January 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (January 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602580715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602580718
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

In this important book David Gushee gives the lie to the sorry myth that Evangelicals are all right-wing extremists. Not only does he show that many are politically progressive, but also that most of them are actually or potentially political moderates with a strong biblical conscience.
 --George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary

In an election year, we badly need this careful, reasoned reflection on how Christians should confront the pressing moral issues of our time. Gushee offers a refreshingly balanced point of view.
 --Philip Yancey, Author and editor-at-large of Christianity Today

The Future of Faith in American Politics challenges Jim Hightower's famous maxim that the only things in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos. Gushee offers here a cogent and balanced agenda for evangelical activism, a most welcome addition to this important conversation.
 --Randall Balmer, Professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University

Gushee offers a valuable survey of Evangelical subgroups and their varied responses to some of the most significant and divisive ethical issues of our time. It is a timely response to questions that demand informed and immediate attention in the academy and the pulpit.
 --Bill J. Leonard, Dean and Professor of Church History, Wake Forest University Divinity School

Will there be a kinder, gentler, wiser Evangelical ethos in the future--less strident, rigid, politically entrenched, and reactive, and more thoughtful, robust, politically independent, and constructive? If so, I believe it will develop in large part because of David Gushee and the new/renewing identity articulated in this important book.
 --Brian D. McLaren, Author (brianmclaren.net)

Excellent. Carefully researched, lucidly argued, urgently important. A must read; for anyone interested in American evangelical political engagement today.
 --Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action

Gushee makes a strong case for an emerging evangelical middle; in American politics. For that middle to become more than an occasional, aggregate voice, however, its constituents will have to take more seriously than they do now the responsibilities of citizenship and government. Today, that middle lacks leaders in government and the political process with the comprehensive agenda Gushee advocates.
 --Jim Skillen, President, The Center for Public Justice

You must read this book. Why? It not only explains who the players are in an evolving religious and political awakening occurring within the evangelical world, but it also explains the ideas, conflicts, and controversies that are making news.
 --Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

The Future of Faith in American Politics
offers a cogent review of contemporary political engagement among evangelical Protestants. David Gushee's description of an emerging evangelical center displays the diversity of this engagement, while his advocacy for such a center reveals its vitality. This book deserves to be taken seriously by evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike.
 --John C. Green, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Akron

From the Inside Flap

A provocative look at the political beliefs of evangelical Christians.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kolburt W. Schultz on February 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dr. David Gushee has made an immense contribution to the world of Evangelical politics with the publication of his most recent book, The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center. Gushee not only provides an in-depth look at the current Evangelical political spectrum, but he also clearly articulates a vision for an emerging "Evangelical Center," a moderate approach to politics that more fully embraces the whole of biblical counsel, not merely a partisan outlook on political life.

In the first half of his work, Gushee details the major players, organizations and worldviews that constitute what he sees as a distinct Evangelical Right, Left and Center. On the Right he chronicles the rise of such influential organizations as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, among others. Gushee agrees with the way in which the Right is able to speak out on abortion and the sanctity of marriage, but faults them for at times having too narrow of an issue base, and at other times for merely adopting the Republican Party platform wholeheartedly.

The Evangelical Left consists mainly of the personalities of Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo and the organizations that they have built around them, but there are many other organizations that embody a liberal approach to politics as well. While the Left, and especially Wallis, tend to view themselves as a mediator between the Secular Left and the Evangelical Right, Gushee rightly points out that most of the ire of those on the Left is directed at the Right. As is to be expected, Gushee praises the Left for being able to widen the agenda of the Evangelical world, especially in the realm of social justice and their reliance on Jesus and His message in the Sermon on the Mount.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Stringer on March 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
What comes to mind when you think of the relationship between evangelicals and American politics? Fervent opposition to abortion and gay marriage? The convolution of God and Country? Culture wars and single-issue litmus tests? Whatever the prevailing image, it can probably be characterized more by partisan reaction than carefully nuanced, non-partisan reflection.

Piggybacking on the groundswell of opposition to George W. Bush's policies on issues like torture, climate change and the Iraq War, numerous books in recent years have critiqued the strong ties between evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party. Among the most influential of these bestsellers has been God's Politics by Jim Wallis, which captured this wave of frustration and energized a younger generation of Christians (myself included) to pursue social justice and fight global poverty. Wallis has often proclaimed the decline of hard-line social conservatism with phrases like, "the monologue of the Religious Right is over." But with 74% of evangelicals voting for John McCain in 2008, is American Christianity really shifting from right to left or is something more subtle and less reactionary taking place?

Evangelical scholar David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, argues for the latter in The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center (Baylor Press, 2008). He begins with a thoughtful and dispassionate survey of the political spectrum within evangelicalism: right, left and center. With surgical precision and refreshingly independent sensitivity, Gushee dissects and examines the strengths, flaws, key figures and organizations comprising each perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ssumner on June 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you only have time to read one book, and you want to get caught up on what's been going on with evangelicals who are politically engaged, then choose this one. It's very easy to read. Though it isn't comprehensive with regard to every issue, it does give a glimpse of the big picture. It's detailed, but not tedious. Descriptive, but not polemical--though Gushee is unambiguous about letting the reader know where he personally stands. I commend David Gushee for being forthcoming, revealing his personal history and explaining his involvements that have shaped his point of view. He really doesn't try to pull a fast one on anybody. On the contrary, he encourages evangelicals to become more astute and less naive.

On another note, I appreciate how consistent Gushee is in exhorting evangelicals to be more protective of children. Overall, I loved this book. I'm not convinced by all of Gushee's arguments for standing in the center as opposed to the right or left, but I am very grateful for his commentary. Moreover, I agree with his thesis that we, as Christians, are called to follow Christ--and that is very differnt from aligning ourselves uncritically with Republicans or Democrats or any political candidate we might vote for.
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Format: Paperback
I really like this book--and I really like the man who wrote the book!! Notably absent, however, is attention to gender in the political landscape. That's likely less Gushee's fault than the gifted women who don't step forward because there are few women LEADING evangelical organizations and Gushee only concentrates on key organizations. However, it is a notable absence that the only two women discussed in the entire "landscape" are from Concerned Women for America and Eagle Forum and both are grouped together (besides a passing reference to Vera Mae Perkins as he discusses her husband, John). Gushee said women were involved in the Left and Center, but that's it--no mentions of real names or real people or lengthy descriptions of their work (in a book that had 100+ pages of bibliography, index, and appendices). It's a notable silence--which evangelical women should seek to fill. It's also one that Gushee should acknowledge and then perhaps mention some key women in the left and center that he's worked with (and he has) who are involved, even if not heading political groups or at least truly acknowledge the absence of women's presence in his landscape, instead of just saying "they're involved at CCCU" or wherever--For example, he could have mentioned the four women he works with at the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good or others that worked on projects/resolutions with him or someone like Marian Wright Edelman who has worked with Ron Sider on projects and closely linked to Hilary Rodham Clinton. He attempted to do this with black/Latino evangelicals at least, although self-acknowledging his own lack of knowledge at times. I think this is particularly important since a large number of evangelical voters are women (even if their leaders are men).Read more ›
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