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Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics [Hardcover]

by Peter Goodwin Heltzel
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 21, 2009 0300124333 978-0300124330

This timely book investigates the increasing visibility and influence of evangelical Christians in recent American politics with a focus on racial justice. Peter Goodwin Heltzel considers four evangelical social movements: Focus on the Family, the National Association of Evangelicals, Christian Community Development Association, and Sojourners.

The political motives and actions of evangelical groups are founded upon their conceptions of Jesus Christ, Heltzel contends. He traces the roots of contemporary evangelical politics to the prophetic black Christianity tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the socially engaged evangelical tradition of Carl F. H. Henry. Heltzel shows that the basic tenets of King’s and Henry’s theologies have led their evangelical heirs toward a prophetic evangelicalism in a shade of blue green—blue symbolizing the tragedy of black suffering in the Americas, and green symbolizing the hope of a prophetic evangelical engagement with poverty, AIDS, and the environment. This fresh theological understanding of evangelical political groups shines new light on the ways evangelicals shape and are shaped by broader American culture.

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Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics + Theological Turning Points: Major Issues in Christian Thought + Great Christian Thinkers: Paul, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, Barth
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Editorial Reviews


"This book bursts onto the scene just as the blue and red map begins to break up both in politics and in religion.  To persist with simplistic oppositions between evangelical and progressive Christians is to miss the kairos of our time.  Heltzel maps the moment with a stunning new itinerary, historically important and theologically disclosive, of the American Jesus--the prophetic way of  a blue green Christology."—Catherine Keller, author of God and Power: Counter-Apocalyptic Journeys
(Catherine Keller)

"Heltzel offers a genealogy of American evangelicalism that casts important light on its complicated relationship to American politics and America's painful history of race relations. American evangelicalism is positioned inside of, and not apart from, such matters. This alone merits a serious consideration of Heltzel's work." —J. Kameron Carter, Duke University Divinity School and author of Race: A Theological Account

(J. Kameron Carter)

“With this head-turning first book, Peter Heltzel emerges as the most provocative new interpreter of American evangelicalism.  Offering much more than fresh insights on a widely discussed subject, Heltzel illuminates a way beyond the culture wars.  Jesus and Justice will change the way we think about Christianity and politics.”—Charles Marsh, author of The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, From the Civil Rights Movement to Today
(Charles Marsh)

“In Jesus and Justice, Peter Heltzel offers an informed, passionate critique of evangelical political involvement. This important book will very likely alter the terms of the debate over evangelicalism and politics.”—Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond

(Randall Balmer)

“Peter Heltzel's Jesus and Justice boldly explores the complexities of race within American evangelicalism. Heltzel does not shy away from the difficult questions of racism nor does he gloss over the crucial moments of connection between black and white evangelicals. This work heralds with passion and intelligence an evangelical imagination ripe for the Obama era.”—Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Princeton University

(Eddie S. Glaude)

"Compelling . . . provocative . . . deep and well-argued."--Mary Manjikian, Religious Studies Review
(Mary Manjikian Religious Studies Review)

About the Author

Peter Goodwin Heltzel is assistant professor of theology, New York Theological Seminary, and an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124330
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barthianism and the Black Church October 28, 2011
"Jesus and Justice" offers a new horizon for Protestant theology in the Americas. Heltzel argues that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s theology of beloved community offers a prophetic alternative to the born again individualism in Carl F. H. Henry's theology. What makes Heltzel's approach unique is the way that he brings together the theology of Karl Barth into conversation with the prophetic Black Christian tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. He sees John Howard Yoder, William Stringfellow, Ron Sider and Jim Wallis as embodying a Barthian ethic with a commitment to an anti-racist/pro-reconciliation ministry. In the spirit of Dr. King, it is time for Christians to make a collective public stand for racial and economic justice.
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In Jesus and Justice, Heltzel describes the origins and subsequent development of the evangelical movement in America. From this common foundation, several different avenues of theology developed, giving rise to the varied landscape of contemporary evangelism. This book contributes to the understanding of how race relations formed the backbone for modern-day Christianity and highlights how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. forever changed the theological landscape and introduced the idea of political and social activism as a means to achieve universal justice, a concept embedded in the theology of Christ.

The book is a quick and easy read, and it may surprise the layperson to understand how the stated goals of the evangelical apparatus differs from the impressions people have of it today. The text calls on and inspires all to adopt a theology of the cross by becoming active and seeking out a biblical model of justice that strives to correct existing inequalities.

The book will certainly challenge the reader to embrace the idea that the walk of faith should extend to all facets in life, and not be restricted to particular arenas.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly. October 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found the first chapters of the book very difficult to read. The last chapters were easier to read but I could never decide what audience he was writing to inform. Had he left out the politics it may have been a little more understandable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sarah A. Tyson November 24, 2009
The author addresses major issues that are confronting the churches today. The literary work is clear and to the point. The book is well written and can be utilized by people from all walks of life. Jesus truly is a man of Justice as Peter Heltzel asserted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of Jesus November 12, 2009
In the modern society, what is the meaning of Jesus? This book shows comtemporary meaning of Jesus, not just died christ 2,000 years ago but still alive in community. And it provides some views and alternative ways how to see the community and how to access for understanding. It projects the direction of evangelical issue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cutting edge read November 12, 2009
Jesus and Justice is a cutting edge read. This book shifts seamlessly between the fields of history, politics, and of course theology, in a way that is both sobering and inspiring. Heltzel offers a look at the development of evangelicalism that is fiercely grounded in academic integrity, yet alternative, fresh and exciting. This book provides a vision of a future filled with the love of Jesus and the arm of justice, just in time for the dawn of the Obama era. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in social change, becoming a true follower of Jesus, and/or politics. Vive la revolucion!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Christian Right! November 28, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Heltzel's review of the Christian evangelical movement in America is extraordinary. Heltzel analyzes and interprets Christian right during some of the darkest times in American history. In the wake of political strongholds, the reader will find encouragement and inspiration in understanding Christian Right! This is a must read and valuable for any library.

Rev. Maurice S. Daniels
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than One Shade of Color November 18, 2009
Dr. Peter Heltzel demonstrates his different shade of color of Jesus throughout his book, If you need freedom, morality and political justice then you must read this book, It will enlighten, cultuvate you in all aspects to know Jesus. Great work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Jesus & Justice
Peter Heltzel has clearly outlined the necessity for the connection between evangelicalism and the Black church. He draws on the theology of Martin Luther King Jr. and Carl F. H. Read more
Published on December 9, 2009 by D. Daniels
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus and Justice - American Evangelism
In "Jesus and Justice," Heltzel maps out American evangelism from the starting point, showing how the black prophetic social gospel influenced white Christianity, and how other... Read more
Published on December 9, 2009 by Alisa Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus and justice
He wrote his book through his faithful journey of his life and experienced. And also from his holiness frustration about the issue of evangelicals, race and American Politics that... Read more
Published on December 7, 2009 by Douglas Park
5.0 out of 5 stars Race and Evangelism
Dr. Heltzel does a great job in addressing the racial barriers between "white supremecy" and the "black gospel". Read more
Published on December 4, 2009 by Nancy George
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus is Justice.
Jesus & Justice of Dr. Heltzel show good focus of modern theology. Many Modern theological books are stiff but this book use easy examples so we can understand book' context. Read more
Published on December 3, 2009 by Sung Soo Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have
Dr. Heltzel's book Jesus and Justice is a must have not only for seminarians but also for those who look to broaden their understand of Christianity. Read more
Published on December 2, 2009 by Debra M. Hendon
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus is the hope of the world
This book brigs out the political active evangelicals and their divesity, featuring small penticostals churches to black churches to big white churches. Read more
Published on December 1, 2009 by Victoria A. kittoe
5.0 out of 5 stars JESUS CHRIST FOR TODAY
Anyone who need Theological prescription to understand Jesus and justice in this modern world, need to read Dr Peter Goodwin Heltzel book "Jesus and Justice. Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by Okpoti Sowah
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus & Justice book review by Walter V. Hillebrand
I highly recommend Peter Heltzel's book `Jesus and Justice'. I hear Professor Heltzle's call for ministers to become more pro-active. Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by Walter V. Hillebrand
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus and His Justice
Peter Heltzel's book, "Jesus and Justice" is a straightforward read for seminary students and theologians alike. Read more
Published on November 29, 2009 by Juliet Grant
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