A provocative account of recent evangelical Christian engagement with conservative politics
This book provides a fresh, lively, iconoclastic history of evangelical Christians' involvement with American politics. Examining key evangelical political figures -- from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to Billy Graham and Chuck Colson to Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis -- D. G. Hart argues that American evangelicalism, from the right as much as the left, is (and always has been) a bad fit with classic political conservatism and its insistence on the limited role of government.
Whenever evangelicals have pushed for government solutions to moral or social problems or for crusading military and foreign policy ventures abroad, Hart argues, their religious and moral idealism has trumped the sober realism of classic conservatism and a careful understanding of the virtues of the American political system. Further, Hart predicts that, with such a tenuous relationship to the core principles of conservatism, evangelicals on the right are unlikely to remain politically conservative unless they finally accept -- really
accept -- the limited uses of politics to effect lasting social change.
Readers of From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin
are sure to find Hart's voice timely and compelling.
Read more from the author of this book on EerdWord
— Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
"Modern evangelicalism, because of its many parts and persuasions, has been said to resemble a mosaic or even a kaleidoscope. In this timely book D. G. Hart gives a thorough overview of this mosaic, looking closely at contemporary evangelicals' political engagement in recent history. While much of evangelicalism has been seen as politically conservative, Hart makes an intriguing case that it has been so in an insufficient fashion. Evangelicals need to become more Augustinian in their theology, he argues, and begin attending as much to the Federalist Papers as they do to the Scriptures.
This book offers an important challenge to evangelical leaders, pastors, and activists alike: focus on the 'permanent things,' remember your pilgrim citizenship, and never forget that the ultimate purposes of history are not determined by politics. This is not to diminish appropriate political concerns but to only put them in proper perspective. Buy a copy of this book for your pastor and also give one to your favorite Christian political activist. By doing so you will raise the level of theological, and political, conversation in the church."
"Maximally enlightening political-religious argumentation."
"This book is a valuable contribution to the ongoing historiographical conversation regarding conservative politics in the United States and will certainly prompt an interested and lively discussion on this issue."
Journal of Church and State
"This is a book that deserves to be noticed and to be deeply pondered by every type of American evangelical Christian — especially those who engage politics and the public square."
The University Bookman
"Hart has done an excellent job of exploring the intellectual and political history. Furthermore, and more important, he has written the kind of book which forces the reader to grapple with his thesis and to be left more thoughtful in the process."
"Erudite and well-researched, Hart's style is approachable and often witty. . . . General readers will be taken aback to learn that evangelical Protestantism isn't always — and perhaps is only rarely — conservative in nature."
Voice of Reason
"A very provocative and interesting book."
The American Conservative
"Darryl Hart's new book on the role of evangelical and the conservative movement offers a critical missing piece in understanding the ongoing role of evangelical Christian in American politics."