As the election approaches, I continue to wrestle with what it means to follow Jesus politically. Walk into an evangelical church and many people will suggest this means voting republican. Walk into a mainline church and you'll hear the opposite: Vote democrat. But is voting republican or democrat really what it means to be a person of faith when it comes to politics?
This is one of the questions that author Jonathan Merritt addresses in his new book, A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars. He does so by advocating that before Christians “embark on political engagement,” they investigate what it means to pursue “God's kingdom”. In doing so, they can move the conversation beyond partisan politics to the question of “How should Christians engage politics?”
Using stories of his own experience as the son of an influential Southern Baptist pastor, his college days at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and his experiences abroad, Jonathan investigates both church history and Scripture while simultaneously imploring people to return to Jesus before politics. According to Jonathan, Jesus' call to Christians is not to “productive citizenship, but an invitation to leave everything and follow a new king”. Such a call compels younger Christians to disengage from the partisan politics of their fathers and make their faith their own by passionately addressing issues including abortion, poverty, war and creation care in whatever ways their faith calls them to.
The result is an easy, thought-provoking read ideal for anyone wrestling with how faith intersects with politics. As a book that leans neither right nor left but instead draws from both, it's also one likely to spark discussion amongst people of varying political persuasions, making it a good bet for small group discussions.