Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grudem’s “Politics According to the Bible”

Here is a great book review of a new book by Dr. Grudem by Justin Taylor.  I agree that the reason I am conservative politically is not because of my a priori beliefs, but because the Christian Worldview insists on faithfulness to God's standards.

Wayne Grudem’s new book releases today from Zondervan: Politics—According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (664 pages).

The book is divided into two parts: (1) Basic Principles and (2) Specific Issues, as outlined below:

Part 1: Basic Principles
Chapter 1: Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government

Chapter 2: A Better Solution: Significant Christian Influence on Government
Chapter 3: Biblical Principles Concerning Government
Chapter 4: A Biblical Worldview
Chapter 5: The Courts and the Question of Ultimate Power in a Nation

Part 2: Specific Issues
Chapter 6: The Protection of Life
Chapter 7: Marriage
Chapter 8: The Family
Chapter 9: Economics
Chapter 10: The Environment
Chapter 11: National Defense
Chapter 12: Foreign policy
Chapter 13: Freedom of Speech
Chapter 14: Freedom of Religion
Chapter 15: Special Groups
Chapter 16: The Problem of Media Bias: When the Watchdogs Fall Asleep

Chapter 17: Application to Democratic and Republican Policies Today

The five views that Grudem argues against in the first chapter are:
  1. Government should compel religion
  2. Government should exclude religion
  3. All government is evil and demonic
  4. Do evangelism, not politics
  5. Do politics, not evangelism
Grudem’s “better solution” is “significant Christian influence on government”:
The “significant influence” view says that Christians should seek to influence civil government according to God’s moral standards and God’s purposes for government as revealed in the Bible (when rightly understood). But while Christians exercise this influence, they must simultaneously insist on protecting freedom of religion for all citizens. In addition, “significant influence” does not mean angry, belligerent, intolerant, judgmental, red-faced, and hate-filled influence, but rather winsome, kind, thoughtful, loving, persuasive influence that is suitable to each circumstance and that always protects the other person’s right to disagree, but that is also uncompromising about the truthfulness and moral goodness of the teachings of God’s Word. (p. 55)
You can read the table of contents, the preface, and the first chapter (on the five wrong views) as a free PDF.

Grudem’s conclusions are largely conservative. He explains:
I support political positions in this book that would be called more “conservative” than “liberal.” That is because of my conclusions about the Bible’s teaching on the role of government and a biblical worldview (see chaps. 3 and 4). It is important to understand that I see these positions as flowing out of the Bible’s teachings rather than positions that I hold prior to, or independently of, those biblical teachings. And I do not hesitate to criticize Republican policies where I differ with them (for instance, in the endorsement of runaway government spending and the continual expansion of the federal government even under conservative Republican presidents). My primary purpose in the book is not to be liberal or conservative, or Democratic or Republican, but to explain a biblical worldview and a biblical perspective on issues of politics, law, and government. (p. 13)
I predict (1) there will be those who agree almost entirely with Grudem’s conclusions and arguments, (2) there are those who would disagree with both his conclusions and his arguments, and (3) there are those who would agree with Grudem on the issues but disagree here or there on whether or not the Bible allows for a broader application of its principles and thus allows the freedom for Bible-believing Christians to arrive at different means for achieving biblical ends.

At this point, I’d probably be in the third camp, holding to the same positions but seeing allowance for Christians to come to different conclusions on some issues. But I’ve read and known Grudem long enough to know that his arguments will be clear, systematic, comprehensive, and always seeking to be tethered to God’s Word. Therefore, I believe this will be a book well-worth considering and consulting for those who are conservative, or liberal, or somewhere in the muddy middle.

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