In Wayward Christian Soldiers , leading evangelical theologian Charles Marsh offers a powerful indictment of the political activism of evangelical Christian leaders and churches in the United States. With emphasis on repentence and renewal, this important work advises Christians how to understand past mistakes and to avoid making them in the future.
Over the past several years, Marsh observes, American evangelicals have achieved more political power than at any time in their history. But access and influence have come at a cost to their witness in the world and the integrity of their message. The author offers a sobering contrast between the contemporary evangelical elite, which forms the core of the Republican Party, and the historic Christian tradition of respect for the mystery of God and appreciation for human fallibility. The author shows that the most prominent voices in American evangelicalism have arrogantly redefined Christianity on the basis of partisan politics rather than scripture and tradition. The role of politics in distorting the Christian message can be seen most dramatically in the invasion of Iraq, he argues: Some 87% of American evangelicals supported going to war, while every single evangelical church outside the United States opposed it. The Jesus who storms into Baghdad behind the wheel of a Humvee, Marsh points out, is not the Jesus of the Gospel. Indeed, not since the nazification of the German church under Hitler has the political misuse of Christianity led to such catastrophic global consequences.
Is there an alternative? This book proposes that the renewal of American churches requires a season of concentrated attention to faith's essential affirmations--a time of hospitality, peacemaking, and contemplative prayer. Offering an authentic Christian alternative to the narcissistic piety of popular evangelicalism, Wayward Christian Soldiers represents a unique entry into the increasingly pivotal debate over the role of faith in American politics.
Marsh (University of Virginia; The Beloved Community) enters the religion-and-politics fray in this provocative, and even prophetic, manifesto. In Marsh's view, American evangelicals have sold their birthright to Republican politics, wholly abandoning the Gospel's call for justice, peace, and mercy by supporting the war in Iraq. Evangelical leaders do not invite people to peace and reconciliation, but rather offer "base and sinful thoughts disguised as moral values." Franklin Graham comes in for special attack: his call for the conversion of the Islamic world to Christianity is "a chilling example of messianic ego unleashed on the world stage." What is Marsh's solution? First, he calls the church to a season of silence, in which it will learn to be still and listen for Jesus, rather than contributing to the noisy political chatter that pervades our age. Second, noting the overwhelming extent to which evangelicals outside of America have decried the war, Marsh bids his fellow American Christians to become part of a truly global church, where the convictions of Christians in other places may be allowed to check the jingoism and imperialism Marsh finds in American churches. Marsh's lively prose makes a brisk read. His gauntlet-throwing will anger some readers and inspire others.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Oxford University Press, Incorporated
October 31, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.