Book Review: Honoring God in Red or Blue, by Amy E. Black
There are many in our era who glowingly refer to themselves as “post-partisan,” insinuating that their positions are above the partisan mire that our country is currently entrapped in. However, in most instances these claims to represent a voice above the fray are in actuality nothing more than a thinly veiled ideological attempt to gain more credibility. Christians are typically no better—and in some cases worse—as they sprinkle in a little “God-talk” in order to give their policy positions an air of theological importance. At this juncture, the Body of Christ is in desperate need for a renewal of thinking biblically about politics and a fresh approach to the issues that divide our country. A biblical “post-partisanship” would be a healthy engagement with the political realm in a manner that brings glory to God, not a political party. One person who has been contributing to this higher understanding of faith and politics is Amy E. Black, an author and political science professor at Wheaton College. Her most recent work, Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason (Moody Publishers), provides a great model for all who desire to honor God with their political engagement.
Black begins her work by assuring the reader that she is not arguing that Christians must vote for Democrats or Republicans, rather, her goal is for the Body of Christ to be guided by the Holy Spirit in our political advocacy (pg. 11). This principle is demonstrated throughout the remainder of the text as Black shows remarkable balance and integrity as she handles controversial issues. For example, in chapter 9 Black uses the issue of poverty in America as a case study for how Believers can and should engage a controversial topic. Instead of oversimplifying a complex issue, Black fairly and accurately presents the problem and both the liberal and conservative solutions to the dilemma. Instead of towing any ideological line on the issue, she points to a fact most of us intuitively recognize: neither “side” of this issue has the whole answer. Private charity, economic stimulation, and some degree of government programs should all factor into a holistic solution to this problem.
Black’s presentation of the issue of poverty is characteristic of her entire work. Data and statistics are prevalent throughout, an approach one would expect from a professor’s articulation of such subject matter. In addition to the professorial aura that Black maintains, her experience on Capitol Hill provides added insight that many less familiar with the political process will greatly benefit from.
Overall, it is the political novice that Honoring God in Red or Blue is directed towards. Throughout the work there are sidebars, and insights that inform the reader about how the political process works and resources that enable a more intelligent engagement with government. However, this is not to say that the more politically savvy reader will not also benefit from the book. Many times Christians who are engaged in politics do so from a weak theological foundation. Black’s chapter on the different Christian models for political engagement (Chp. 7) will help many believers find a theological home for their political philosophy.
Honoring God in Red or Blue is an essential read for Christians who are trying to gain a better understanding of how the political process works. Some may become frustrated by the nuance with which many subjects are presented, and if this is the case, this book would not be a good fit. However, if you are one of the growing number of Christians who becomes frustrated with the rabid and vitriolic atmosphere that characterizes much of our political culture you will find Black’s work a welcome reprieve.
For more information check out the author interview that Amy Black did with FaithfulPolitics.org.