Monday, September 19, 2016

A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends, by David P. Gushee

David Gushee, a Christian ethicist and Mercer University professor, wants his anxious Christian friends to be less anxious.  In A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends: From Fear to Faith in Unsettled Times, Gushee writes that he wants to "help American Christians to see our reality more clearly, assess that reality more thoughtfully, and act more faithfully."  I'd be the first to acknowledge that many "Christian" perspectives on political issues are far from being genuinely Christian.  Many Christians have difficulty recognizing that Christians disagree on issues--and that it's OK!

After a bit of background, in which he points out that American democracy is not an inherently Christian style of government, Gushee offers his perspective on a number of issues ripped from the headlines: race, sex, police, money, climate, war, the death penalty, health care.  With succinct, thoughtful chapters, Gushee briefly discusses these issues and some of the implications for Christians.  For those most part, the anxious Christian friends to whom he writes are those who hold to more conservative political views and who are anxious about the leftward tilt of the nation.  Don't be anxious, Gushee says, here are some Christian defenses of liberal policy positions.

To be fair, he's not a hard-core liberal.  But he advocates acceptance of the institutionalization of gay marriage.  He would allow for the legalization of abortion in extreme cases (although he is reluctant to draw a line).  He calls for increased government action in environmental issues, education, and the economy.  Most Republicans would think Gushee is too liberal.  Some Democrats will think he's too conservative.  Most readers will appreciate that he's not particularly prescriptive in his policy positions, but descriptive, challenging readers on several points.

Am I less anxious than I was before I picked up Gushee's Letter?  Not really.  But I do appreciate his short, pointed treatment of policy issues from the perspective of someone who strives to be biblically and faithfully orthodox in his perspective.  The conversation continues. . . .

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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