The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics

Greg Forster, Author . IVP Academic $24 (254p) ISBN 978-0-8308-2880-7

While many assume that the question of Christian involvement in politics is a recent one, this work traces the 2,000-year history of Christian thinking on the place of religion and politics—“the story of how we got to where we are now”—a philosophical tradition going back to the ancient Greeks. Christian scholar Forster locates the origins of this story in the faith's first three centuries, when believers faced persecution, making the church suspicious of political power. Even after Christianity was established as the religion of the state, this initial experience with persecution continued to influence Christian thinking about the relationship between the church and political institutions. Forster offers an intellectual history that is learned and accessible, and he fills his account with the lives and works of some of Christianity's most important thinkers, from Augustine and Aquinas through Luther and Locke to Reinhold Niebuhr and C.S. Lewis. Most helpful is the clear account Forster gives of natural law theory and its influence on Christian political thought. Some readers may strain to see the “crisis” that Forster predicts, and others may not share his clearly Christian frame of reference, but this is a work that offers a thorough account of a long and complicated history. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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