With the 2024 presidential race fully underway, religion publishers are exploring deep political divides among faith groups and asking if there is a better way forward in five new books.
From Zondervan, The After Party: Toward Better Christian Politics by Curtis Chang and Nancy French (Apr.) encourages Christians to reconsider their approach to politics in order to rebuild relationships strained by partisan divides.
“The after-party is referring to how we need to reframe our Christian political identity to one where we radically re-center on Jesus,” says Keren Baltzer, associate publisher at Zondervan. “It’s a call to ‘confront toxic polarization and heal our broken politics,’ as Chang and French detail in the book.”
The idea for the book was born out of necessity, says Webster Younce, v-p and publisher at Zondervan. “So many people asked the same question: With all the political division and broken relationships we’ve seen in recent years, is this just the way it is from now on?”
“The goal of The After Party is to help readers,” Baltzer says, “whatever their views, to pursue Christlikeness and a kingdom-first mindset, even in their politics.”
Also focusing on divisions along party lines, The Party Crasher: How Jesus Disrupts Politics As Usual and Redeems Our Partisan Divide by Joshua Ryan Butler (Multnomah, May) explores the religious nature of current political movements and offers 10 “political commandments” for how to engage in the civic domain in a way that reflects Christian teachings.
“This is not a book about putting politics aside, it’s a book about putting politics in their place,” says Drew Dixon, executive editor at WaterBrook & Multnomah. “Josh’s aim is to help us be better disciples of Jesus in whichever party or place we find ourselves. Jesus is a party crasher because his kingdom vision is deeper, better, and further-reaching than the vision any political party has ever put forth.”
Journalist Bekah McNeel analyzes the narratives surrounding six controversial issues—abortion, climate change, Covid-19, critical race theory, gun violence, and immigration—in This Is Going to Hurt: Following Jesus in a Divided America (Eerdmans, July). Uncovering a lack of compassion and an “us vs. them” mentality, McNeel looks to provide what the publisher calls “a nuanced and authentically Christian mode of political engagement.”
Andrew Knapp, senior acquisitions editor at Eerdmans, says McNeel’s message is both timely and timeless, due to increasing tribalism in our society and because the author keeps the gospel at the heart of the book. “Bekah compels her readers to give everyone a hearing,” Knapp adds. “Jesus called his followers to take up their crosses and follow him—Bekah just shows us what that looks like with regard to several key issues.”
And publishing in August, historical theology professor Miranda Zapor Cruz is looking at how Christians across a range of denominations have approached political participation in Faithful Politics: Ten Approaches to Christian Citizenship and Why It Matters (IVP Academic). The book aims to help readers create a framework to bring faith-based convictions to bear on political issues and participation. In an increasingly polarized society, “such a framework will enable us to be more faithful to Christ in our political lives,” Cruz writes, “and to respect fellow Christians who arrive at different political conclusions.”