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City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era Hardcover – October 1, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


In recent American history, the mixture of religion and politics has all too often produced inflated rhetoric, demonization of opponents, runaway hyperbole, and mindless demagoguery. This book is different. It pulls back from the heat of conflict to seek light from Scripture, Christian tradition, and a measured analysis of American political history.  Although I have voted "none of the above" in many presidential elections, I'm confident that what these veterans of the Bush White House have written will help Christian believers of any political persuasion to act more responsibly in the public square. Their discussions of the purposes of government (order, justice, virtue, and prosperity) and of the urgent need for patient persuasion in political debate are especially insightful.

Mark A. Noll
Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

In an age when many of the battles between religion and politics are nearing the boiling point, City of Man is a primer for Christians seeking to find their rightful place in the political arena. Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner issue a clarion call for active Christian involvement in the form of calculated and thoughtful engagement. Chock full of historical and theological wisdom, City of Man reminds Christians that they should care about politics and – win or lose – never give up the fights that matter most.

William J. Bennett
Washington Fellow, The Claremont Institute

A thoughtful, creative articulation of a new agenda for conservative politics by Christians. One need not agree with all the assumptions or arguments to find this book a significant contribution to Christian reflection on where our nation should go. The book offers a significant challenge to both liberals and conservatives.

Ronald J. Sider
Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry, and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary

Figuring out the appropriate relationship between politics and religion for Christians is a daunting task. Yet Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner have succeeded brilliantly. In City of Man, they spell out a political theology for 21st century Christians that rejects the narrow thinking of the Religious Right and the creeping secularism of the Religious Left. City of Man is a two-fer. It's an enormously important book on politics and on religion.

Fred Barnes
Executive Editor, the Weekly Standard

In City of Man, two of our nation’s most gifted public intellectuals address the question:  How should religious believers understand their obligations as citizens of a modern constitutional democratic republic?  Michael J. Gerson and Peter Wehner warn their fellow Christians against, on the one hand, reducing religion to politics, and, on the other, imagining that Christian faith has no relevance to our political duties.  Addressing a range of challenging and timely issues, they show how the resources of Christian faith can be marshaled to bring public policy more fully into line with the inherent dignity of human beings as creatures fashioned in the very image and likeness of God.

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

This is book is a wonderful gift to all of us who care deeply about Christian engagement in the political arena. Drawing on their experiences of having worked day-to-day in the inner corridors of political power during times of crisis, the authors offer us a marvelously clear and candid perspective on what it means to seek the welfare of “the City of Man,” while taking with utmost seriousness our identity as citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. 

Richard J. Mouw
President, Fuller Theological Seminary

Wisdom in the biblical sense is nourished at the intersection of God's character and our experience. Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner write out of both a rich experience in the national political arena and a deep immersion in biblical faith, and have given us a book of uncommon wisdom. Their reflections on how religion and politics interact in our rapidly changing culture are perceptive and challenging, combin[ing] a broad, historical understanding of the issues with a thoroughly accessible style.

Dr. Stephen A. Hayner
President, Columbia Theological Seminary

About the Author

MICHAEL GERSON, former policy advisor and chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, writes a nationally syndicated column that appears in the Washington Post. He is the author of Heroic Conservatism.

PETER WEHNER, former deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national security issues for Commentary, the Weekly Standard, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802458572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802458575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Darling VINE VOICE on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Younger generations of evangelicals are wrestling with the proper way to engage in the political arena. As a one-time political activist and now a pastor, I have personally felt the tension between radical engagement and radical withdrawal. At times I have felt Christians have been too passive and at times (lately), I have felt that Christians have been far too active.

Plus, American Christians have been afforded a rare historical stewardship. Few if any civilizations have had the opportunity to shape, change, and move their government in a way that we have. But just what is the biblical blueprint for involvement?

History has shown that when the church is too cozy with political power, it has abandoned its Christian witness and influence and has at times actually been the oppressor instead of the protector of the oppressed. GK. Chesterson said, "The coziness between the church and the state is good for the state and bad for the church."

We've also seen the moral vacuum left when the church withdraws into itself. Slightly more than half a century ago, the Christian witness in Germany was so weak that Hitler was largely able to co-opt the Church for his own diabolical purposes.

So what is the proper balance? How can Christians engage their world?

This week I was delighted to receive a review copy of City of Man by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner. Its part of a new series called, Cultural Renewal, by Moody Publishers. This series will be edited by Tim Keller and Collin Hansen.

If this first offering by Gerson and Wehner is any indication, this series promises to offer believers a robust, winsome, and scripturally sound basis for engagement.

City of Man is a short read, but it is well-written, thoughtful, and honest.
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Gerson and Wehner are two former White House staff members under the presidency of George W. Bush. These men were staff writers who helped to craft policy and the statements to the public about those policies. They are both conservative and they are both Evangelical Christians.

Their book is unapologetically Evangelical and Conservative. Their goal is to give Evangelical Christians a wake up call to their need to become involved in the political and moral life of the communities and the country that they live in.

In their conclusion of the book they state that they hope they have providing three broad propositions to the Evangelical Christian Community. Those are;
1. Politics is the realm of necessity
2. Politics is the realm of hope and possibility
3. Politics can be the realm of nobility

It is their premise that Christians should be decided vocal about politics and become more involved in helping form and shape the political landscape of our country.

Chapter 1 of the book takes us on an exploration of Religion and Politics and whether they are friends or enemies. I think they do a good job of addressing the Biblical aspects of why we need governments and that God is not opposed to the formation of governments. They explore also how governments ought not be formed with an absence of religious thought, but should give consideration to the moral values that religion brings to society.

Chapter 2 gives a history of the Religious Right and does a good job, I think, of showing the good and the bad inherent in what happened with the Religious Right. The movement wasn't bad, but it did birth some individuals who tended to take more pleasure in their power than what was prudent, Biblical or necessary.
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Since I've been working through various presentations of Christian interaction with society, particularly in the economic sphere, I thought it useful to read some modern takes on Christian involvement in politics. I thought Gerson/Wehner would be a good contrast with Jim Wallis. Gerson is a former speech writer in the G.W. Bush White House and current Washington Post pundit (and occasional NewsHour fill-in for David Brooks) and Wehner was also involved in policy strategy for Bush. Both are professing evangelicals.

As Tim Keller writes in the foreword:

"(A)ny simplistic Christian response to politics--the claim that we shouldn't be involved in politics, or that we should "take back our country for Jesus"--is inadequate. In each society, time, and place, the form of political involvement has to be worked out differently, with the utmost faithfulness to the Scripture, but also the greatest sensitivity to culture, time, and place."

The authors quickly gloss over a few historical strains of Christian views on politics, comparing the extremes of isolationism and efforts to create theocracy. There is a lot of room between poles on the continuum for a Christians to be.

Engaging in politics as a career can, in the strain of A.W. Tozer, be just as holy an act as sewing a tent, preparing an accounting audit, writing a sermon, or bagging groceries. So long as Christians do the work with a view to glorify God, it is holy, and none of the above are more holy than the other.

The authors look at a proper role of the state that (they hope) all Christians can agree upon while also looking at the proper role of the church within the state. They offer five precepts:
1. Moral duties of individuals and the state are different.
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