I finally have another book coming out this February. It’s the culmination of my efforts to write a political theology for the church of my heritage: evangelicalism in N America. I admit this book is a bit intense – theologically and otherwise (be forewarned). Nonetheless, I think it gets at something extremely simple and intuitive. It asks how does the way we articulate our beliefs (doctrine) and then practice them shape us evangelicals as a people in the world? Has the way evangelicals articulated and practiced their belief in Scripture, Salvation in Christ and the Church in the world shaped us in certain ways to be inhospitable to God’s Mission in the world?
I try to get us evangelicals to think about more than whether our doctrine is orthodox (indeed I assume it is). I try to get us to think about how our belief and practice shape our lives together as a people of God in the world. The ultimate question is – are the “kinds of people we have become” congruent with the gospel we preach?
I borrow some simple ideas from political philosopher Slavoj Žižek (his earlier work) to help us see that a politics in the world can either be shaped out of antagonism (we define ourselves by who/what we are against) or it can be shaped out of who we are in our relationship with God. (OK I just simplified it way down for Žižek purists out there) For Žižek of course, the latter is not possible. Nonetheless, he describes viscerally how politics works when it is formed around an emptiness, a core birthed out of antagonisms. For Žižek, this is how ideology operates. For me the question is, has evangelicalism taken on the shape of such an ideology in the world? Have we somehow lost our way and become a politics of emptiness/antagonism? If so, how do we restore ourselves to a politic of fullness in Christ for God’s Mission in the world.
I use plenty of cultural examples from evangelical life in America to reveal the inner contradictions of our life together before the world. These “revealings” suggest that our politics has gone off the track and taken on the character of an empty ideology. It explains why we have come to this place where it seems we have made many enemies in the cultures of the West. As a result, is our “ideology” collapsing? I think not. Yet I argue herein lies a space for renewal. In the final chapter I offer some directions for a renewal of theology and practice for a politics that meets the challenges of the oncoming post Christendom N America – what I call an “evangelical missional political theology.” For those of you interested in the future of evangelicalism, I think this book will offer some new things for the diagnosis. Hopefully you’ll be on the lookout for the book this coming January!!
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