KANSAS CITY, Mo – Midwestern Seminary announced last week the release of Political Gospel: Public Witness in a Politically Crazy World by Patrick Schreiner, director of the Residency Ph.D. program and associate professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology.
In his book, Schreiner argues that the gospel itself is political, as Jesus declared Himself to be King. Throughout the ten chapters, he addresses Christian’s public witness by examining Christianity’s political past, present, and future.
“I am grateful for Patrick’s new book Political Gospel,” said President of Midwestern Seminary Jason Allen. “In our current cultural moment, it is incredibly important for Christians to be thoughtful when it comes to political engagement. Patrick helps us to think biblically about this sensitive topic and challenges his readers to submit every aspect of their lives to the Lordship of Christ, even the political one.”
Reflecting on the book, Schreiner said, “I wrote this book, Political Gospel, because I believe in God’s people, but I also believe we have more work to do in political discipleship. We need to put politics in its proper place–meaning two things.”
“First,” he stated, “the church in many places has become not merely political, but partisan. Partisan loyalties need to be demoted. Most political discipleship comes from cable news, not from reflections on the Scriptures.”
He continued, “Second, we need to put politics in its place in a positive sense. Some Christians, in reaction to this partisanship, have privatized their faith. Not much is said about how the gospel should shape our public habits or stances.”
Schreiner’s book focuses on this point, as he writes, “Christianity is political. Though it might sound crazy in our supercharged political climate, I don’t think the average Christian is nearly political enough.”
He explained, “Many still think ‘Jesus is King’ means, ‘He is Lord of my life.’ We forget Jesus is more than that; he is King of kings.”
“Jesus was not ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive,’ but we must not miss the politics of Jesus. The whole biblical storyline can be put under the banner of politics,” he shared.
Schreiner explained the purpose of his book for readers, saying, “I hope to show you that the spheres of religion and politics are not only partially overlapping, but completely and wholly overlapping. Yet, maybe not in the way you think.”
Hearing the word ‘political’ can bring many different assumptions to mind in contemporary culture.
Recognizing this, Schreiner states his book is not arguing for a specific type of partisanship or a merging of church and state.
Rather, he said, “Political simply means the activities associated with the organization and governance of people. It has to do with rulership and who has the right to order our lives. It is what happens in the public domain. To paraphrase Augustine, politics is people bound together by common loves.”
“God is sovereign over the whole world,” Schreiner said, “not merely the inner reaches of the human heart. His project includes the ordering of society of public life, the establishment of a coming city, and even its present manifestation in the church.”
“But I’m also not merely suggesting Christianity has political implications. Christianity is itself a politic.”
In this way, Schreiner intends to point out that Christianity is a comprehensive and controlling ‘vision’ for all of life.
He said, “Politics is simply how we partner together for the flourishing of humanity and the world. We must open the horizon of politics past partisanship and allow God to have his say again. Christian politics concerns how we integrate our confession that Jesus is Lord with our call to love our neighbors.”
Schreiner hopes readers walk away from the book encouraged and challenged in at least three ways.
“First, I hope they will see that this division we’ve constructed between religion and politics is a smokescreen,” he said. “While we can separate the church and the state, we can’t ultimately divide our faith from our posture and presence in the public square.”
He continued, “Second, I hope people will walk realizing we exist as Christians in a paradox. The Bible speaks of governing authorities in two ways: they are God’s servants who do good, and they are servants of Satan that spread chaos.”
“Finally, I hope these two realities will lead people to an appropriate response to our governing authorities. In short, I think we’re called to submit and subvert, depending on the situation. We honor governing authorities for their work, but we also recognize they will not install the lasting kingdom. Only Jesus will do that. Our hope is in His politics and in His kingdom, not theirs.”
As an encouragement to readers, Schreiner added, “In these pages, you’ll see that Christians live in a paradox, and you’ll see how to follow Christ our King right into the political messiness of our day. I hope you’ll pick up Political Gospel and be helped in bringing every part of your life into conformity to Christ.”
Political Gospel is now available for purchase anywhere books are sold.
To read an excerpt of the book, visit here.
Excerpted with permission from Political Gospel by Patrick Schreiner. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing.