by Wes Avram, ed.
Avram has brought together twelve prominent scholars to discuss the theological implications of current political rhetoric, policy, leadership and international relations.
Brazos Press, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287, 2004, 218 pages, $14.00.
—Reviewed by Brian M. Howell, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
When traveling, it does not take long to realize that much of the world is mad at us. Poll after poll shows that virtually nowhere does a majority of a nation’s citizens support current US foreign policy.1 For the missionary, this is particularly important for ministry among people who may have come to associate the gospel of Christ with the political and economic power of the US. In his well-edited volume, Yale Divinity School professor Wes Avram presents a number of perspectives illuminating why Christians and non-Christians around the world often object to, or at least are uncomfortable with, US political-economic supremacy.
Avram has brought together twelve prominent scholars to discuss the theological implications of current political rhetoric, policy, leadership and international relations. Including supporters and critics of the Bush Administration’s defense policy, this book is an excellent place to begin for missionaries and other international Christian workers who want some insight into the concerns heard around the world.
Avram uses The National Security Strategy of the United States of America as the starting point for the essays (most originals, some reprints from other sources) to think theologically about what has become known as the Bush Doctrine. He groups them to bring out various aspects of how the Doctrine has shaped public life nationally and internationally. The sections take on topics such as why Christians need to pay attention (chapters 1-4), what Christians often overlook about politics in the new millennium (chapters 5-6), the way language has shaped perception of the issues (chapters 7-8), pragmatic analysis of contemporary realities (chapters 9-10) and considerations for pastoral and congregational life (chapters 11-13).
Regardless of pragmatic policy concerns, anyone seeking to represent Christ in the world should read this book for the ways in which it reveals the conflation of US foreign policy and the kingdom of God. Stephen Chapman (“Imperial Exegesis: When Caesar Interprets Scripture”) most clearly demonstrates the troubling, if not idolatrous, use of Holy Scripture to describe or even justify US foreign policy in ways that cannot help but shape the way non-Christians around the world view—for good or ill—the mission of the church.
One will probably not agree with everything in each essay, but for anyone seeking to think biblically about world politics, this book is a good place to begin.
Check these titles:
Wallis, Jim. 2005. God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong, and the Left Doesn’t Get It. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco.
Walsh, Brian and Sylvia Keesmat. 2004. Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press.
1. See Center for Policy Attitudes at .
Copyright © 2005 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.