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Political Thought: A Student's Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition) Paperback – July 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Political Thought is a wonderful introduction to the study of politics. Hunter Baker writes as a true teacher, offering not only rigor and clarity but also a personal touch. He shows his reader that the study of political thought is not just an abstract exercise for dreary academics, but an application of practical reason to the question of how we are to live together in freedom and order to advance the common good. While introducing the student to the greatest political philosophers in history, Professor Baker takes great care in showing the indelible marks these thinkers have left on our civilization, and how they, for good or ill, have shaped the way Christians should critically assess their place in civil society and its political institutions.”
Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University; author of Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice

“What is the purpose of politics? How should we order our lives together? In lively and engaging prose, Hunter Baker surveys the answers that great thinkers have given to these enduring questions. His book is an excellent, accessible introduction to the fundamental themes of political discourse—and to why these matter for the rising generation.”
George H. Nash, author, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

“Hunter Baker provides an accessible and insightful primer on the various streams of thought and action at play in American public life. A notable merit of Baker’s work is that it examines clear alternatives while at the same time doing justice to the dynamic variety in and between different schools of thought. Baker paints a clear and compelling picture of the political landscape and in so doing provides a valuable service both for those learning about politics for the first time and for those seeking a refresher and a summary of political thought.”
Jordan J. Ballor, Research Fellow, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty; author, Ecumenical Babel

About the Author

Hunter Baker (PhD, Baylor University; JD, University of Houston) is associate dean of arts and sciences at Union University and has written for a wide variety of publications including The American Spectator, National Review Online, Christianity Today, and the Journal of Law and Religion. Baker is also the winner of the 2011 Michael Novak Award conferred by the Acton Institute for outstanding scholarly research into the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.

David S. Dockery (PhD, University of Texas) has been president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, since 1995. He is a much sought-after speaker and lecturer, a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal and Theologians of the Baptist Tradition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (July 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433531194
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433531194
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kyle on August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I recently finished Political Thought: A Student's Guide by Hunter Baker, which is a short booklet, only 121 pages, that is a part of the series, Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition. The book offers students an introduction to some of the basic philosophical foundations that scholars approach the study of politics and political organizations, such as the idea of the family unit and social contracts. Political Thought is a very quick book to read, I read it in one sitting, precisely because it is so short. As a book geared towards students, particularly Christian students, that makes it especially useful, because as any educator can attest, students have very short attention spans, especially regarding reading. Political Thought doesn't go into detailed analysis of political systems or ideologies, such as conservative and liberal, democratic and authoritarian, that would make the book much longer. Instead, Political Thoughts strength lies in its brevity, which allows a quick introduction to basic political philosophy. Political Thought would not be a text unto a course, rather, it would be very useful to help students begin understanding and discussing political ideas.

Political Thought is divided into three sections, the first introduces students to the basic ideas in political philosophy. The second chapter analyzes the major themes and goals of politics, namely, order, freedom and liberty, and justice. Baker concludes this section by attempting to describe good politics in a way that any classical liberal, that is, a modern day conservative/libertarian, would appreciate, as an attempt to maximize personal liberty while also providing security and ensuring justice prevails. Finally, Baker concludes in his third section by discussing the Christian contributions to political thought. Political Thought is, as the series name suggests, first and foremost a Christian resource for Christian students, and comes from a conservative Christian perspective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bryan on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have searched for years for what seemed to be a phantom: a quick, approachable work on political thought that I could give to the less politically inclined and ask them to read and consider. That phantom has become a reality. This is the best (read: accessible) book on political thought, ideas, concepts, etc. that I've ever come across. Hunter Baker has done a huge service to us in writing this. If you've ever wondered why politics matters, or why you should at least have an attentive ear towards it, check this out. Worth your time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Holtsberry on January 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Hunter Bakers previous book on secularism so I shouldn't have been surprised by the quality of his latest work. But I have to say I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this student's guide to political thought. Its conversational style and practical approach makes it very accessible yet it still gets to the heart of many of these important thinkers and their impact on our lives even today.

This is obviously great for students but also great for adults who either haven't been exposed to these writers and thinkers or who find their memory of the subject a little rusty. Anyone who takes politics and civic engagement seriously would do well to read this book and think about the issue it raises. If more people did so our politics and conversations would much better for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Umland on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Crossway has started publishing a promising series, all subtitled "A Student's Guide." This one by Hunter Baker, Political Thought, was briefly intriguing, frustrating, and enticing at the same time. In a short 100 pages tries to lay the philosophical ground work for the major themes of political thought, order, freedom/liberty, and justice. He quotes Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Hobbes, Rawls, Marx, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the TV show Lost. All this book can do is whet an appetite, which it did for me. I was underlining, writing counter arguments in the thin margins, asking questions out loud, and then suddenly I finished the book.

In the last section of the book, he writes specifically to the Christian student. It felt awkward for me to see him mention "satanic rebellion", which means, unfortunately, this helpful little book may not make it into public libraries. His conservative beliefs were mostly held back until the very end when he was writing to an audience I presume would agree with him.

This book successfully provoked me to seek to learn more about this topic I know so little about.

I received this book for free in return for my review.
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