Left and Right: A Way Foreword image

Left and Right: A Way Foreword

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I don't always read forewords. Sometimes I skip them; sometimes I skim them. Usually, their function is to communicate to me that the writer of the foreword thinks the book is worth reading, and has put their money where their mouth is by spending some serious time writing about it. But when I opened Jake Meador's In Search of the Common Good recently, and saw that Tim Keller had written the foreword, I thought I'd give it a read. It was only three pages long.

I’m so glad I did. Here’s an excerpt:

In this new situation, many of the older Christian models of “cultural engagement” or “political theology” seem obsolete. One was pietism, the view that believers should be about winning souls and building up the church, and not about trying to be Christians in “politics.” But that approach assumes a well-functioning society that doesn’t need Christians to support the common good. If society is breaking down, how can you love your neighbour without getting politically involved? And what if your culture comes to define your soul-winning as a politically illegitimate act? How do you avoid politics then? ...

Other approaches, however, run the risk of getting caught up in the broader political polarisation and becoming mere tools of it, just one part of a left or right political coalition. For example, we may see the development of both “blue evangelicalism” and “red evangelicalism” online. The former talks about racial and economic justice, but is quiet about the biblical teaching on subjects such as abortion, sexuality and gender. The latter condemns sexual immorality and secularism in the strongest terms but grows silent when its political allies fan the flames of racial resentment towards immigrants. When the church, in the name of political power, allies and aligns too much with the current secular left or right, it is sapped of both spiritual power and credibility with nonbelievers. Theologically, both political poles are suspect, because one makes an idol out of individual freedom, and the other makes an idol out of race and nation, blood and soil. In both something created and earthly is deified. Extreme progressivism detaches individuals from community and history and any concept of virtue, but the nationalism and racism that might replace it are no answer to it.

If you are looking for a way forward, I can think of no better starting point than this book.

And with that, I’m going to start reading it. You may want to as well.

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