Politics–According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem. Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 2010, 619 pp, cloth $35.00
Politics—According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem applies the teachings of Scripture to key political issues and argues for Christian involvement. The author makes no attempt to find a middle-ground position that appeals to all, but allows his hermeneutic to drive his conclusions. This work heavily favors the Republican platform.
The book is divided into three parts: Basic Principles, Specific Applications and Concluding Observations. The first part supports Grudem’s thesis of significant Christian influence, outlines the role of government, touches upon a Christian worldview and examines the power of the judiciary. What is the purpose of civil government? Does the Bible support democracy? Should believers only vote for Christian candidates? Grudem’s answers are thought-provoking, most notably, his discussion of ultimate power in a nation (pp. 124-150).
However, not all of part one is adequate as Grudem only has four pages of biblical support for his position of significant influence (pp. 58-61). Developing an ecclesiological construct for Christian influence certainly would have helped. It was not clear how societal influence fits within the church’s mandate to evangelize the world. Are the two separate, though possibly related, commands? Is one an expansion or application of the other? Does the church have a cultural mandate? Though having an extensive background in systematics, surprisingly, Grudem left these questions unanswered.
The second part of Politics skillfully addresses over 50 political issues. From the sanctity of life and marriage to economics, the environment, national defense and foreign policy, Grudem covers the spectrum quite well. The level of research and critical thought is astonishing in a work so broad and varied. One may wonder if the Bible speaks to many of these issues, but Grudem successfully mines the depths of God’s Word to show it does. As opposed to pinning a few verses on a preconceived position, he truly wrestles with each issue in the light of Scripture.
The final part of the book discusses media bias, evaluates the positions of Republicans and Democrats and wisely ends with the hope of spiritual revival. At the outset of Politics, Grudem states: “I wrote this book because I was convinced that God intended the Bible to give guidance to every area of life—including how governments should function!” (p. 13). Undoubtedly, Grudem achieved this goal. One may disagree with certain positions or Grudem’s thoughts on political activism. Regardless, Politics challenges the reader to think biblically about contemporary political issues. I am not aware of any book that does this so thoroughly and am convinced it is a resource every pastor should own.